Tips For Stop Smoking
There is no stress-free path through life. That's actually a good thing. No stress means no challenge, and no challenge means you become bored, boring, and weak. But there is certainly such a thing as too much stress, and all too many people experience that. I can't make your stress go away, but I can give you three great tools to handle it.
1. Happy Hands
“Happy Hands” is the name one of my stop-smoking clients gave to a technique that's officially known as “anchoring”. One of the tracks that comes with my full stop smoking online course (Smokefree Life) talks you through the process, but here it is written
- Sit somewhere you won't be disturbed or distracted, where you'll be comfortable and where you can relax. (Preferably somewhere you don't usually smoke – and, of course, don't smoke during the exercise!)
- Close your eyes and gently relax your body. Think about a fine sunny day and a beautiful blue sky above you, or something else that helps you be peaceful and relaxed.
- Now think about a memory of a time when you were really resourceful, when you were feeling in control, maybe when you'd just achieved something you were proud of. Make that memory as vivid as you can – hear what you heard, see what you saw, feel what you felt, fill your five senses with it. Turn up the volume and clarity.
- Gently press your thumb against one of your fingers (any one) and associate that touch with the good positive feeling.
- Let go of the memory and the finger press.
You may have to practice that a few times, but what it does is it gives you a way to retrieve that good, strong, resourceful feeling whenever you need it, just by pressing your thumb and fingers together. I use this technique whenever I'm really stressed, and it's great. So effective.
2. Relaxation Response
The Relaxation Response is the name that Dr Herbert Benson uses for a shift in the way your body and brain work. You can either be tensed up, with your body ready to fight or run away, or else you can be relaxed, with your body working on fixing itself up and healing itself and carrying on all the other important day-to-day tasks. You can't have both at once.
It's easy enough to switch over to relaxation mode, too. Here's one way that I've taught many of my clients. I use a version of it myself in the middle of the afternoon to perk myself up and give myself more energy.
- Choose a word or short phrase as a focus. If you have religious or spiritual beliefs, you could use a name, word or phrase associated with those beliefs; if not, choose one which reflects important values to you, like "peace" or "compassion".
- Find a quiet place and sit comfortably.
- Close your eyes.
- Progressively relax your muscles, either from head to foot or foot to head. Let your muscles relax, don't try to "make" them relax. Become aware of any tension in them, and allow that tension to release as if it was leaking out, becoming a mist and evaporating.
- Breathe slowly and deeply, but without forcing, and say your focus word or phrase silently to yourself on each outbreath. Focus on the feeling of your breath going in and out below your navel, as if you were breathing through your navel.
- Thoughts will come to mind. Let them go past.
- If you find you have followed a trail of thoughts away from your repetition, just gently let the thoughts go and return to your focus on the next breath.
- Use a timer to signal you after 10 to 20 minutes.
- When the timer goes off, let other thoughts gradually return for a minute or so, then open your eyes and sit for another minute before standing.
- Practice once or twice daily. Good times are before breakfast and before dinner, but any time is fine.
3. Welcoming Practice
This is the third of the practices I regularly use myself to calm myself down in stressful situations. The “Happy Hands” is good for a quick calm-down when you're starting to talk yourself into being tense. The Relaxation Response is a good daily practice to lower your general levels of stress. The Welcoming Practice is for those moments when you feel really angry, or afraid, or sad.
The practice is very simple, and it's in three parts.
- Become aware of how the emotion feels in your body. Is it hot or cold, tense or loose, rough or smooth? What colour would it have if it had a colour? What sound would it have if it made a sound? Take your time.
- Connect to that feeling and welcome it by name: “Welcome, anger” (or whatever it is). This sounds strange, but what you're doing is acknowledging that the anger is there for a reason and that it's OK to feel it. You're not resisting it or pushing it away (but you're not letting it make your decisions for you, either.) Take your time.
- When it's ready to go, let it go. If you follow steps 1 and 2 (you may have to swap between them a couple of times), quite soon the emotion should start to drain away. Just let it go. You've noticed the situation, so now you don't need the emotion to draw your attention to it or help you deal with it. Take your time.
Of course, if you're in a physically threatening situation, you do need the boost that emotion gives your body and mind. In this case it's fine to let the emotion flow and make you stronger, faster and better at noticing things. (If it's not doing that, though, take a few moments to let it go. It will only interfere with getting out of the situation.) If you find this post helpful, please share it with your friends. To find out more, you can check out Tips For Stop Smoking.