3 Common Rationalisations for Smoking


June 28, 2021

Not long after quitting smoking, you may notice thoughts such as ‘just one cigarette won’t hurt’ or ‘I can have one with my glass of wine’ – there are plenty of other rationalisations that may arise in our mind not long after quitting smoking. Remember, smoking may have been part of our identity for many years, our thoughts & behaviours reflect that of a ‘smoker’ – although we are actively working on changing our behaviours, the hard-wired thoughts in the brain suggest that we still smoker, and so may present themselves in many different ways.

Here we explore some common rationalisations you may already be familiar with; understanding what they are and how they become triggered can help with meeting them without feeling like we have to immediately react. Becoming aware that it’s not wrong to have thoughts about smoking, actually normal to think about smoking from time to time, we can develop understanding towards them.

1.       "I'll Just Smoke Less"

Certainly, taking the steps to reduce how many cigarettes you smoke is a strong first step if you haven't yet quit. However, it’s important to know that people who smoke now and then (i.e. social smokers) are subject to the same health risks as people who smoke regularly.

Deciding to smoke again after quitting can be a slippery slope, although our intentions may be to just smoke a few (which seems positive if once smoking 20 per day) you may end up returning to your old patterns of smoking.

How to Respond to This Thought

Firstly, notice when you're having this thought – acknowledging it by saying to yourself “there is that thought again about smoking”. Perhaps you always used to smoke on long car journeys and now every time you're in your car you get a craving. Keep a journal of the thought you have about smoking and what the context is. This way, you will be more prepared.

You may put a pack of sugar-free gum in the car to meet the cravings or bring a crunchy snack like carrot sticks for long car rides. Having something to reach for when the cravings arise is setting yourself up for success.

2.     "Smoking Relaxes Me"

Nicotine activates a release of the chemical dopamine, which may make you feel relaxed at first, but in fact, smoking increases anxiety and tension.

Stress is a common trigger for smoking – overtime, reacting to stressful situations with a cigarette becomes an automatic response. Think about how quickly you grabbed a cigarette during a fight with a loved one or after a tense interaction with the boss at work…

How to Respond to This Thought

Smoking does not take away the stressful situation or even reduce tension, but there are plenty of things you can do that are proven to promote relaxation.

Practices like mindfulness meditation and breathing exercises have been proven to reduce stress and even reduce cravings for cigarettes in people who used to smoke.

Find a quiet place to sit. Take a deep breath, expanding your lower belly. Focus on your breath and belly, and whenever you notice being pulled away or distracted by thoughts, guide the attention back to your breath and belly area.

Other things you can do to reduce stress include:

• Watch your favourite comedy.

• Take a walk in nature.

• Avoid overscheduling yourself.

It can be difficult at times, but it’s important to take enough time for yourself. When you prioritize relaxation, you'll realize and learn how to cope with stress with needing to reach for a cigarette.

3. "Smoking Makes Me More Productive"

The dopamine release triggered by nicotine might give you a quick burst of energy, but it usually doesn't last very long - this is a reason we become addicted to nicotine – craving that initial burst of energy, but need to continuously top it up by smoking to feel that sensation again.

And so, smoking doesn't actually make you more productive. Nicotine puts your body through a cycle of highs and lows. A few hours after a cigarette, you'll likely experience a crash and lower energy than you did before smoking – making it harder to concentrate and get things done.

How to Respond to This Thought

Making long-term lifestyle changes is a much more sustainable way of generating more energy and more productivity in your life. Ask yourself these questions if you're thinking of reaching for a cigarette to be more productive

• Am I sleeping well?

• Am I eating a nutritious diet?

• Am I drinking enough water?

Replacing cigarette smoking with healthier habits, can help us find you have even more energy.

Check out the source article via @Verywellmind here for some more insight: verywellmind.com/rationalizations-for-smoking