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News | Monday, 11th March 2019

No Smoking Day: Tips for giving up smoking from a psychology expert

Dr Tom Hostler shares three techniques based on psychological research

No Smoking Day 2019 is on March 13

This Wednesday is national No Smoking Day 2019, a day dedicated to helping smokers quit.

Here are three techniques based on psychological research from Dr Tom Hostler, Lecturer in Psychology at Manchester Metropolitan University, to help you give up cigarettes:

1. Plan ahead

One key psychological trick is planning in advance the likely problems you might encounter.

This sounds like common sense, but few people actually do it! Don't wait until you’re offered a lunch-break ciggy and then try to worm your way out of it when you’re put on the spot. If you decide in advance how you will respond to these temptations, it saves you a lot of mental effort in the moment, and means you have a pre-planned response you can use to keep yourself on track. 

Also, think about the situations in which you usually end up having a cigarette - stressful family gatherings, being invited to spontaneous after-work drinks, or when you’re getting frustrated at a problem that won’t go away - then think what you could do to keep on track.

Being ready and having a good response to turn down an invitation, phoning or messaging someone who is supportive of your challenge, or reflecting on how disappointed you would be at giving up, all help.

2. Choose alternatives

It is a lot easier to replace a habit with something else rather than to just ‘stop’ it.

If you are in the habit of smoking at certain times, then it may be very difficult to just “stop” yourself from doing what you normally do. 
Instead, try to replace your normal habit of having a cigarette with something else. For smoking, this could be replaced by having a piece of chewing gum, or going for a short brisk walk if you’re used to having a cigarette as a chance to get out of the office.

3. Avoid temptations

Whilst you will undoubtedly end up in some social situations in which you are tempted to smoke, you also have the ability to make sure you avoid some of those situations entirely by making yourself unavailable or setting the agenda early for an alternative activity. Why not get out into the countryside for a walk with the family, or do a social activity where smoking isn’t permitted. For example: ice-skating, going to the cinema, visiting a museum, or going to one of the popular “escape rooms” that can be found in nearly all major cities.

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