Dr. Gilchrist's Tips to Stop Smoking More Easily

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Dr. Randy Gilchrist is Doctor of Psychology with a specialty in Clinical Hypnosis. Recently, I reviewed his 7-CD program called "Non-Smoker's Edge". Dr. Gilchrest has generously offered to share some of his tips for a successful smoking cessation program with us here.

From Dr. Gilchrist:
I strongly recommend that you visit your primary care physician for a full physical at the beginning of your stop smoking effort.
He or she can identify what physical health problems may have already begun within you, along with personalized changes needed to begin correcting them. These changes may include proper diet, exercise, medication, and other lifestyle changes for your particular situation. Your primary care physician should also let you know which, if any, food, activity, or medications you should avoid taking or engage in moderation.

Strategy #1: Exercise Regularly

Under the direction of your medical doctor, I recommend meeting with a personal trainer and getting set up with a regular exercise program to help improve your heart rate, pulse rate, blood pressure, and overall cardiovascular health - some of the main casualties from smoking that will probably require improvement.

Other benefits of regular exercise include managing your weight and dealing better with difficult feelings, such as depression, anxiety, stress, and boredom.

Strategy #2: Change Your Diet

It makes sense to eat more of the healthy foods that will lessen your smoking cravings. It also makes sense to avoid those foods and substances that will only increase your cravings. Foods that have been shown to both increase your health and help to lessen cravings include:
  • fruits (especially apples)
  • vegetables (especially carrot and celery sticks)
  • unbuttered popcorn
  • lean meats
  • fish
  • drinking large amounts of water, tomato juice or tea.

It is also recommended that you eat moderate portions spread out through the day across 3 or more meals for the best digestion. Also, choose foods that take a long time to chew to keep your mouth occupied.

Finally, commit to only eating when you are hungry, not when you are bored, upset, or want a reward (known as "emotional eating").

Unhealthy substances that will aggravate your cravings and will need to be minimized include foods or drinks high in sugar or fat, alcoholic beverages, and all illicit drugs-especially drugs that involve smoking, like marijuana.

Strategy #3: Keep Your Mouth and Hands Busy

In the past, smoking cigarettes kept your hands and mouth very busy a lot of the time. Now, as you are stopping smoking, it may be helpful to keep your hands and mouth busy in other ways, at least for the first 6 months or so until your cravings lessen considerably.

Ideas for keeping your mouth busy include:
  • eating foods that take a long time to chew (like apples, celery, carrots, etc.)
  • drinking water (or another low calorie beverage)
  • chewing gum
  • brushing
  • flossing
  • whitening your teeth
  • gargling with mouthwash
  • whistling
  • singing
  • experimenting with different styles of lipstick or lip gloss, or anything else that will keep your mouth busy.
Note: do not use chewing tobacco. It is just another form of nicotine addiction.

Ideas for keeping your hands busy include:
  • holding a pen or pencil
  • writing letters or notes
  • drawing or painting
  • playing a piano (or other musical instrument)
  • squeezing a wrist exerciser or stress ball
  • sewing or knitting
  • working on a puzzle
  • trimming your finger nails
  • washing your hands or face
  • playing with a yo-yo
  • playing cards (like solitaire)
  • learning sign language
  • doing push-ups or pull-ups
  • putting on hand weights
  • carrying a cane, or engaging in anything else that will keep your hands busy.

Strategy #4: Dealing with Family and Friends who Smoke

For many people, smoking served as a way to socialize and bond with other family members or friends who also smoked. Now that you are quitting, they may feel awkward around you or even betrayed. Some light friendships and associations will be easy to end. Do it. Your health requires it.

With your more important relationships, you may need to reassure them that you still care about them and want to keep the relationship, but that you'd like them to please refrain from smoking around you because of your changes. If they forget and "light up", politely remove yourself until they are finished. Then, reengage with them. They should "get the hint" soon enough to stop smoking around you.

Most people should respect this approach. However, if, by chance, they are negative or even hostile about your quitting smoking and even try to sabotage your efforts, you may need to confront them respectfully and ask them to change their behavior. If they still refuse, you may need to limit your contact around them until they can respect and support your needs to be smoke free. A true friend or close family member should respect and support your efforts to change.

Remember, 90% of smokers would like to quit and know it is unhealthy. However, with some people, your quitting might just remind them of what they aren't yet strong enough to make happen. However, remember, that is not your fault and that is not your problem. Therefore, you shouldn't have to be the one to suffer for it. Commit to being healthy and smoke-free irregardless of the support-or sabotage-of other people. You can do this because you have to do this.

Strategy #5: Changing Old Triggers and Cues to Smoke

In the past, smoking very much had become a regular habit and routine within your days and nights. You became used to smoking at certain times, places, circumstances, or mood states. Now, because you are quitting smoking, it can be helpful to identify these old triggers and cues to smoke, and then come up with alternative plans of what you can do in these instances.

Take out a piece of paper and write out all of the main situations that used to be followed by smoking: including times of day, places you'd go, circumstances that may arise, and moods you might feel. Now, write out at least 3 different alternate behaviors that you can do during each of these times to replace how smoking played to help you cope with these circumstances.

Then, commit strongly to yourself for each situation, "I will NEVER again smoke when____ happens. Repeat this several times. Finally, in the future, track on a piece of paper whenever these situations arise and which alternate behavior you actually ended up substituting for the situation. Be consistent and write down all of your efforts. Self-awareness, planning, and experimentation will soon make you very good this.

Eventually, after these better alternative behaviors become natural and automatic, smoking will cease to be triggered when these situations arise. Keep in mind, there are some old unhealthy smoke-triggering situations that are best just avoided altogether, such as designated "smoking sections" of any sort, casinos, bars, bowling alleys, or any other place highly populated by smoke and smokers. Also, minimize contact with certain smoking individuals that you aren't that close to.

In short, you are retraining yourself to respond differently than by smoking. For instance, if you used to smoke just before arriving to work or school, plan several other activities that you could do then, such as calling a friend on your cell phone, eating a healthy snack, or reading a favorite book.

Strategy #6: Confidence Statements

In order to stay confident and to reinforce the positive messages you will hear in your hypnosis sessions in the "Smoker's Edge" program, it can be helpful to write out and repeat a number of "confidence statements" about yourself and your goal to stop smoking. Confidence statements are positive, true statements that you can repeat to yourself daily to stay focused, motivated, and in control.

To do this exercise, take out a piece of paper and list out at least 20 positive, true statements concerning how and why you will stop smoking. After making your list, it can be helpful to post your list somewhere convenient where you can read it once a day to stay sharp. Examples of confidence statements you may wish to use include:
  • I can stop smoking
  • I will stop smoking
  • I love myself too much to smoke
  • I want to get healthier and live longer
  • I will enjoy breathing easier
  • I will be so proud of myself
  • Others will look up to me
  • Millions before me have quit and I can too
  • I can handle this
  • This will get easier over time
  • I can always get support and help from others when I need it
  • I've dealt with harder things than this
  • I can do whatever I put my mind to

Strategy #7: Remembering Reasons to Quit

In order to stay focused on why you are quitting to remain strong, it can be helpful to write out and repeat a number of "why I am quitting statements" about yourself and your goal to stop smoking. These statements are reminders of what you want to change, avoid, and move away from by quitting smoking. You can repeat these statements to yourself as often as needed to stay focused, motivated, and in control.

To do this exercise, take out a piece of paper and list out at least 10 reasons you want to quit smoking by starting off your sentences with "I am quitting smoking because I want _____." After making your list, review it from time to time if you find you are forgetting why you wanted to quit in the first place. Examples of "reasons to quit" statements you may wish to use include:

I am quitting smoking because I want:
  • healthier lungs
  • to save money
  • my family and friends to respect me
  • to smell better
  • to taste my food again
  • to live longer
  • to be healthier
  • to be happier
  • to feel good about myself
  • to conquer my addiction and bad habit

© Copyright 2005, Randy A. Gilchrist, Psy.D. All Rights Reserved www.hypnosisnetwork.com

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