Smoking by the clock
Many people confuse breaking free of smoking and waiting to smoke. They are not the same thing! Allowing yourself to heal from smoking addiction, both mentally and physically, involves a release, letting yourself off the hook of addiction. This is a different mental approach than "hard knuckle" willpower and toughing it out. The "willpower only" approach can build up tension over time and set you up for a smoking relapse.

How long can you hold onto the side of a mountain? As you feel heavier over time, chances are you will fall of your own weight.

The approach we are suggesting, on the other hand, involves releasing yourself from the addiction altogether. In this approach, the goal is accepting that life will be better without tobacco. This acceptance is emotional, not just in your surface, everyday consciousness. In other words, it takes place somewhere deep inside. So remember you are accepting life without tobacco, not just waiting to smoke.

This exercise is a short-term way to help you prepare for the day you will go tobacco-free altogether. The object is to literally schedule your smoking. Count the number of cigarettes you smoke each day. Then count the numbers of hours you are awake each day.

For example, if you are awake 18 hours a day and you smoke 18 cigarettes a day, you would schedule to smoke one cigarette per hour as follows 8 a.m., 9 a.m., 10 a.m., etc. If you miss a strike of the clock, do not double up later. Remember, once you make the schedule, stick with it. The purpose is to begin to wean you from your usual patterns and triggers—like situations, thoughts or feelings—connected with smoking. We want to help take you off automatic pilot and help begin to interrupt these patterns, so you can better ease out of them on the day you choose to become tobacco-free.

Identify strategies to disarm your common smoking triggers PDF

One more key to success with this exercise: Don't try to cut down on the number of cigarettes you smoke each day at this point; just stick to your schedule so you can't smoke them when you want to, only when the clock tells you its time. For now, surrender to the clock!
As a reminder, always consult your doctor for medical advice and treatment before starting any program.


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