Alternatives for Giving Up Cigarettes
Have you tried unconventional approaches to stop smoking?
Hypnosis: Heightened Awareness continued...
These individuals are taught to relax and enter an attentive,
receptive state. "Then," says Carmody, "they're given suggestions
for focusing on and strengthening their reasons for quitting smoking, and
picturing themselves as nonsmokers effectively overcoming and reducing the
experience of urges or cravings to smoke." The UCSF participants are being
asked to practice the self-hypnosis technique at least once or twice a day, as
well as use it as needed to successfully manage situations where they may
experience a desire to smoke.
A unique component of the UCSF study is that it is not relying
solely on patient self-reports of successful quitting. "Our patients who
say they have quit provide a saliva sample, which is analyzed for the presence
of cotinine," a chemical byproduct of nicotine, says Carmody.
A Picture's Worth a Thousand Words
If you can mobilize vivid images in your mind at the drop of a
cigarette ash, guided imagery may be a technique worth trying. Using this
method, individuals enter a state of relaxation and then create mental pictures
that help tap into their unconscious mind and reprogram the nervous system to
resist the temptation to smoke.
"Guided imagery is most helpful in preparing people to quit
smoking," says Bresler. It can help them get ready on the inside, clearing
away internal conflicts and obstacles that can block the path to quitting.
Bresler notes that many people are attracted to smoking by
Madison Avenue's imagery that has convinced them that they can feel cool,
macho, or seductive if they smoke. Guided imagery, he says, taps into a
person's own imagination and helps them create other images that can counter
the purported appeal of smoking, showing instead that it is a toxic poison that
you're inhaling. "The key is to break the habit, break the addiction, and
recognize that you don't need a cigarette to feel cool," he says.
Part of guided imagery's power is its ability to instill
strength and resolve to toss those cigarettes aside. "It is a means of
learning to relax, talking to your creative self, and mobilizing and growing
your determination and will to make changes that are important to your
well-being," says Bresler.