Alison's Blog

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My musings, things I've found interesting and thoughts on how knowing more about the way the mind and body work might help us to make the positive changes we want.

Stoptober – the change that makes the difference

By arison, Sep 30 2017 03:15PM

With Stoptober just around the corner, I have been thinking about the people who have come to see me in order to stop smoking. And, in particular, about one of the oft-mentioned impacts of smoking – one that surprised me.

When someone comes to see me for stopping smoking, one of the key things we do is explore their reasons for stopping smoking. Motivation plays a large role in how smokers become non-smokers.

But everyone is different. One person's reasons for becoming a non-smoker will be very different to another person's motivations for stopping smoking.

For example, it will be of little value for me to include suggestions about having more money if you're not concerned about how much the habit costs and more interested in having better lung capacity for running and exercise.

If your primary motivation is to improve or safeguard your health, you may or may not give two hoots about having a better sense of taste and smell for dining out at your favourite restaurant.

On the other hand, you might have some vague concerns about body health in the background but the biggest driver for you right now is having healthy skin, gums and teeth and fresh breath.

So it's really important that we find out what your specific motivations for stopping are. You might have just a few clear reasons or you might have a page-long list. Motivations range from the familiar motivations about health and money to very individual reasons.

One of the recurrent motivations, which surprised me initially in its frequency, has to do with time and procrastination. This has come up in various forms and is really intriguing to me, given one of my other interests is helping clients to create fulfilment.

Many of the then-smokers I have worked with have cited one of the greatest benefits of being a non-smoker as having more time. And more than this - having the energy or motivation to do something positive with the extra time.

Many smokers not only find themselves losing time in bothering with all the paraphernalia and logistics of having a cigarette but also feel smoking holds them back in some way. Somehow it stops them from pursuing things that would bring them real enjoyment or achievement.

I was amazed by this. How could such a seemingly small habit (in terms of how the size of the action appears) have such a huge impact. I wondered...

Is it because smoking interferes with the body's natural motivation & reward system? By messing around with the production of dopamine and serotonin does it somehow affect our motivation in other areas?

Is it because smoking affects our mood? Far from being relaxing, smoking actually creates the stress smokers crave to relieve, and is associated with depression.

Is it because those little pockets of time that smoking steals really make a big difference to how we manage our time and organise our lives?

Maybe it’s one or a mixture of these reasons depending on the person, or something else altogether.

Whatever the reason, the one thing we do know is that the freedom, extra time and positive feelings that emerge from being a non-smoker can provide a boost to doing that thing you’ve been thinking of doing but never quite get around to starting ... because ... oh I’ll just have a cigarette first...

With this in mind, I will be launching an offer on Monday for stopping smoking so you can make the most out of Stoptober...

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