Physical health is just one priority that affects our wellbeing.
Right now many of us are having to manage a lot of challenging situations brought about by the uncertainty and uncontrollability of the global pandemic, which has highlighted how significant our social and emotional wellbeing is.
Stress is becoming way more common in our everyday lives. Recognising the ways stress changes our body, mood and our behaviours, can help us manage it better.
Feeling stressed is one of the most common triggers for smoking. It can be tempting to want to reach for a cigarette in the midst of a fight with a loved one, after hearing about another restrictive lockdown, or when the kids are driving you nuts. Rather than behaving habitually, it’s better to remind ourselves that cigarette smoking is a major cause of disease and the leading preventable cause of death, and that if we go down that path we’ll find ourselves in a much bigger type of stress than the one we’re temporarily in!
And let’s not be defeatist and tell ourselves that the damage has already been done. It’s way more helpful and motivating to tell ourselves that we don't have to add to the damage. We can get behavioural support and learn to behave differently.
Quitting smoking has significant and immediate health benefits and the sooner we quit, the greater the benefits. It’s a terrific idea to positively approach quitting, and see it as the beginning of a healthy new lifestyle, one which will bring unforeseen opportunities our way.
When we quit smoking, changes in our body can occur within minutes, hours, and days. For example, our blood pressure lowers, our pulse rate reduces, our body temperature returns to normal, our taste and smell receptors begin to heal, our circulation improves, and our lung function improves.
While the majority of smokers would like to stop, it’s our habitual behaviours and the addictive nature of smoking that make it difficult. A seasoned smoker can spend part of each day hating the fact that they smoke, yet on the flip side, they relish lighting up with the first coffee of the day. This emotional roller coaster can make every day feel like an exhausting, emotional tug of war.
Clinical guidelines suggest that smoking cessation interventions which replace nicotine AND include behavioural support, makes quitting easier. Hooray for that!
If you’re choosing to switch to vaping as a pathway to quitting, and you’ve completely stopped smoking regular cigarettes, congratulations! That’s really a terrific first step on your smokefree journey. We want you to know that when you combine what you’re doing with the behavioural support that we offer, it can make your quit journey even more successful.
Registering for help from us via Telehealth Counselling won’t cost you anything. You then just have to fit our assessment criteria and we offer the quit support for free.
We’re grateful in NZ that the Ministry of Health approves of vaping as a pathway to quitting cigarettes. Two of the key MOH messages are:
Evidence is growing that vaping can help people to quit smoking.
Stop smoking services must support smokers who choose to use vaping products to quit.
As a quit tool, vaping gives you the ability to taper off addictive nicotine, using a delivery system that the PHE says is 95% less harmful than cigarettes. Vaping can be a way to quit tobacco, as it provides nicotine with fewer of the toxins that come from burning tobacco.
Behavioural support can help you:
- Develop problem solving and coping mechanisms for barriers, triggers and smoking cues.
- Avoid situations and people that tempt you to smoke.
- Minimise stress.
- Avoid drinking too much alcohol.
- Change thoughts like "having one cigarette won’t hurt.”
- Anticipate occasional cravings for cigarettes.
- Find substitutes that fulfil you.
When you’re open to receiving helpful, respectful advice around ways to change certain routines and environments, while learning ways to cope with emotional challenges, it makes staying smokefree and dealing with relapses, much, much easier.
A therapist provides the emotional support and can help you behaviourally:
- Recognise thoughts that don’t serve you.
- Discover the underlying reasons around why you want to smoke.
- Explore any fears you have around quitting.
- Address unwanted impulses.
- Untangle everything you associate with smoking.
- Notice when and where your thoughts about smoking happen.
- Establish healthy ways of coping.
- Learn to decipher and respond appropriately to what your body needs.
- Put into action new ways of being and behaving as a non smoker.
As a therapist with 30 years experience, I don’t just help you with the smoking stuff. The maze of life presents us with lots of situations that we could all do with extra help to get through. If you’ve got life problems that appear insurmountable, then you’ve got a clear roadblock to quitting. If you’ve got big things affecting your life, like relationship problems, parenting issues, money worries etc, it might seem like they have nothing to do with smoking, yet they’re likely to have everything to do with being an obstacle to quitting. When you have a clearer strategy to manage and mitigate stress, your quit chance is improved.
Liking and following our QuitNow.NZ Facebook page and private support group can help inspire you to stay motivated and determined. We’re living in a time where it’s apparent that not everyone is able to gain physical access to positive support from others when they might need and want it. So, going online is one of the creative ways you can connect to support and encouragement, both from an expert, and others who are walking a similar path to you.
When we say we offer behavioural support, don’t let the word behavioural put you off!
Psychology is really just the science of human behaviour.
Behaviour simply refers to anything a person does.
Behaviour is how we act. It’s how each of us responds to internal and external stimuli throughout our lives.
Behaviour is also driven in part by what we think and how we feel and then how we behave provides insight into our individual psyche, revealing our attitudes and values.
Behavioural support is about trying to understand why we behave in the ways we do and discovering and uncovering patterns in our actions and behaviours so we can form better habits.
Our behaviours are really interesting. Whether we decide to execute an action, or withhold a certain behaviour is dependent on the associated incentives, benefits and risks.
Most of our behaviours are habitual and are formed when we repeat something, and they become automatic when repeated frequently over a period of time.
Behaviour change may seem to be a bit complicated and complex because change requires a person to disrupt a current habit while simultaneously fostering a new, possibly unfamiliar, set of actions.
But, if behaviour refers to what we do, we are also capable of changing what we do!
So, if you’ve tried to quit on your own without success, seek our help the next time you try to quit because it can make a big difference. When preparing to quit, remember that the value of behavioural support is that it identifies situations or activities that increase your risk of smoking or relapse, and then helps you develop new coping skills. We look forward to supporting you. Like. Follow. Register. Do it today!