It sounds crazy to pay thousands of dollars a year in order to buy yourself a shortened lifespan and increased risk of stroke, cancer, and cardiovascular disease. Throw in a decreased sense of taste and increased risk of cataracts, preterm birth, and erectile dysfunction, and it gets even crazier. However, smokers pay for all of these health risks and more.
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It’s no wonder that nearly half of all smokers try to quit every year. If you’re reading this article, congratulations; you’re among that half, and that means you’re already making good decisions for your health.
Cold turkey and nicotine patches are tried-and-true methods of smoking cessation, but one less used but tremendously promising approach is hypnotherapy. Through hypnotherapy, you can make yourself more open to the idea of quitting and trick your body into craving cigarettes less.
What Is Hypnosis?
Although “hypnosis” might make you think of spooky old men swinging pocket watches, it’s really nothing but a state of extreme relaxation that puts you in a suggestible frame of mind.
Contrary to pop culture images, no one can turn you into a zombie or force you to do anything against your will when you’re hypnotized, but hypnotherapists say that if you’re open to a certain idea, they can put it into your head and make it linger long after the hypnotherapy session ends, such as the idea that cigarettes are disgusting.
This method has been used to treat everything from addictions and phobias to labor pain and skin disorders.
When you’re hypnotized, suggestions can sneak past your conscious mind and into your subconscious. The suggestion not to smoke can entirely bypass that part of your brain that makes a conscious decision and goes into the unconscious part that finds itself lighting a cigarette even when you don’t really want to.
Because so much of addiction is subconscious, hypnotherapy can be a powerful tool to fight it.
How Does A Hypnotherapy Session Work?
Every hypnotherapist works a little differently, but in general, your hypnotherapist will ask you a few questions about your smoking history and your specific goals at the start of the session in order to get a better idea of how to help you.
They will then guide you into a trance, which is a state of extreme relaxation where you are still entirely conscious.
Think of the way you feel when you’re completely absorbed in a movie or when you’re zoning out and lost in thought. In this trance, the hypnotherapist can put suggestions into your mind.
These may be positive (“I am tough and strong, and I don’t need to smoke”) or negative (“I hate cigarettes and the way they smell”), but either will hopefully linger long enough to help you quit smoking.
Is It Effective?
The jury is out on the effectiveness of hypnotherapy. Some patients swear by it and some scientific studies have shown it to be effective, but most studies don’t show it as being any better than trying to go it alone or using a regular psychotherapist.
That said, it certainly isn’t any worse than trying to do either of those things, so if you’ve tried over and over again to quit without any luck, hypnosis may give you the break you need.
The American Association of Professional Hypnotherapists also points out that in order for hypnosis to be effective, you have to truly want to quit smoking.
The hypnotist can’t implant the idea of quitting into your head out of nowhere; they have to build on the desire you already have.