Sometimes the seemingly easy things are actually the hardest to do. I was talking with a patient today about triggers for smoking, and how the average cravings last 5-7 minutes. He responded something along the lines of “Well it should be easy to put something in there for THAT amount of time (i.e., rather than smoking).” “But in reality”, he added,” it is very difficult to do.”
And YES, it is. There is NO doubt about that.
So when you think about making behavioral changes for something like quitting smoking – where do you start? How do you find something to put in place in your life?
Some find that substituting some form of physical activity– a quick walk around the block, or jumping on a treadmill, is helpful. Others find that they just need to keep their hands busy with something – a game on their phone, or some craft work.
Often, what is really helpful is finding something you REALLY LIKE to do, VALUE doing, and that TIES IN with the reason you wanted to quit smoking in the first place.
Lifestyle changes are nothing short of that – a LIFESTYLE change. It is not something that happens overnight, or when you simply get that “mindset” to do something. The motivation will “wax and wane”, but once you have a few reasons or values that are truly meaningful to you, it gets easier – ESPECIALLY when the motivation is not what it could be. A lifestyle change means that your values are different now. You are placing THIS over your smoking in what you value in life.
A patient of mine had always wanted to volunteer at the local elementary school; but knew she couldn’t do that and still be smoking. She was concerned about smelling like smoke around the kids, and she knew that leaving the school to smoke was simply not an option. So when she did quit, that was the first thing she put in place, and so she now is able to enjoy volunteering at her local school library.
So how can you bring out your values in your behavioral changes when quitting smoking? Well, how do you like to spend your time? Maybe making something for a child or grandchild when you get those cravings will help remind you why you are doing this? Or, perhaps completing that local 5K Run/Walk is a key goal for you, or just completing a walk around the block with a loved one is motivation enough.
Whatever you find meaning in or priority in your life, make that your reason to quit smoking, and start living the reality you truly value.
Barb Dallavalle, MA, LP