As more light up in lockdown, Paul McKenna wants to help you stub out your smoking habit – here's how

THE decline in smoking rates has stalled during the pandemic – with new research revealing hundreds of thousands more people are lighting up compared to before Covid hit.

Experts believe the rise is largely down to increased stress.

Alarmingly, there was a 25 per cent jump in those aged 18-34 taking up the habit, resulting in 652,000 new smokers.

But if you are ready to quit now, hypnotist Paul McKenna can help. The author of best-selling book Quit Smoking Today Without Gaining Weight says: “If you want to quit, then I can make it so you don’t miss it, you don’t think about it and you don’t suffer cravings.”

Here, he explains his winning techniques.

  • See paulmckenna.com.

THE ‘SCREW IT’ METHOD

THE first step to becoming an ex-smoker is to say to yourself: “Screw it! I’m going to do this.”

Let’s take a few moments to anchor a feeling of unstoppable determination to your decision to quit smoking forever. Remember a time when you thought to yourself, “Screw it! I’m just going to go for it.”

It might have been something big or small – going for a job or beating your fastest time on a park run – but either way you could feel that unstoppable determination propel you in a positive direction.

Go back now to that time in your mind – see it through your eyes, hear it through your ears and feel that feeling spread through your entire body.
Now, think about your decision to quit smoking forever.

Notice how powerful you feel having made this decision while feeling these emotions.

Actually hear yourself say the words: “Screw it! Let’s do it” in your mind.

ANCHOR TO QUIT

BEFORE you do this technique, read through each step so you know exactly what to do.

  1. Remember a time when you felt really calm – at peace and in control. Fully return to it now, feeling how good you felt.
  2. When you are feeling these good feelings, squeeze the thumb and middle finger of your right hand together. You are associating this particular pressure in this particular place with this particular emotion.
  3. Go through this relaxing memory at least five more times, while squeezing your thumb and finger together to lock in these good feelings.
  4. Think about a past situation that you found stressful, something that might have left you reaching for a cigarette. Squeeze your thumb and middle finger together. Sense that calm feeling spreading through your body and imagine taking it into that stressful situation.
  5. Think about that situation now. Do you feel less stressed? If not, repeat the exercise until you do. Each time you do this, it will become easier to experience calm “at your fingertips”.

POWER OF ASSOCIATION

TO quit permanently, you need to replace compulsion with revulsion. This technique does that.

  1. Think of a smell that you find disgusting. You need to be able to remember or imagine it vividly for this process to work.
  2. Imagine or remember that awful smell – and how disgusted it made you feel. As you remember, squeeze your thumb and middle finger together on your left hand. Repeat this until you feel utterly disgusted.
  3. Think of a taste that you find disgusting. Again, squeeze your left thumb and middle finger together and imagine swallowing that disgusting substance. Keep doing this until you feel ready to wretch.
  4. Squeeze your left thumb and middle finger together, remembering that disgusting smell and taste, and imagine taking a little drag from a cigarette, then a bit more and more. Imagine each time you inhale, a bit more of the disgusting smell and taste is mixing with the cigarette.
  5. Repeat this until you are repulsed by smoking.

THRESHOLD TECHNIQUE

IF you remember all the times you have thought, “I am going to quit smoking” over and over again, you will build up negative ­feelings about smoking, pushing you from “smoker” to “someone who used to smoke”.

  1. Call to mind the three times of day when you most enjoy a cigarette.
  2. Recall four negative experiences with smoking where you felt you really wanted to quit. Maybe you had a health scare or you just felt repulsed.
  3. Run through the first of those four negative memories in detail. Re-live the moment as fully as you can.
  4. Repeat the process with each of the memories. Go through them again and again, one after another. Each time you do this, make the images bigger, brighter and more colourful so they become more intense. Go through them faster and faster, until the events overlap and the worst parts are happening over and over again.
  5. Only when you have generated an overwhelmingly strong negative feeling throughout your body, think about smoking a cigarette. Imagine someone is forcing you to smoke, even though you don’t want to.
  6. Now, run through each of the three times a day when in the past you would have enjoyed a cigarette. Imagine someone forcing you to smoke in each of these situations until you want to scream: “Screw it! Never again.”

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