Why Do Men Find It Easier To Give Up Smoking Than Women?

Samantha says, ‘I have been trying to give up smoking for years. I have managed 3 times for a short time but always find myself starting again. I have tried really hard but find myself hopelessly addicted. My husband was trying to quit the same time as me and has given up for 3 weeks now.’

She’s not alone. Many women have similar stories of finding giving up smoking much harder than their male friends and family. So, why do men find it easier to give up smoking than women?

Generally, men find it easier to quit smoking than women because of the different ways our brains respond to nicotine addiction. Cigarette smoking tends to be a more of an emotional attachment to women, than physical. This is why addressing the emotional satisfaction and associations with the act of smoking, before the physical cravings, is so important for women to successful quit smoking for good.

Nicotine Receptors And Giving Up Smoking

Researchers at the Yale University School of Medicine in the US conducted a study that found that men had more nicotine receptors compared to men that did not smoke. Conversely, women who smoked had an equal number of nicotine receptors to the woman that did not smoke.

"When you look at it by gender, you see this big difference," said study researcher Kelly Cosgrove, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Yale University School of Medicine.

These findings are important because it suggests that addressing nicotine addiction is not as important for women, as for men. While men may benefit from smoking cessation treatments such as nicotine patches and gum, women need to take a different approach. The researchers in the study suggest that women benefit more from cognitive behaviour therapies that help to address the emotional and cultural reasons they smoke. Relaxation and deep breathing exercises may also help more than using nicotine replacement therapies.

Emotional Reasons For Smoking

For women, smoking can often be associated with emotional triggers such as having coffee with a friend, occupying themselves when feeling insecure or the tactile sensation of having a cigarette between their fingers.

Here are some of the reasons why women find it difficult to give up cigarettes:

  1. Women often find when they are stressed and anxious they relapse because they equate smoking with relaxation,
  2. Women may find withdrawal symptoms harder to manage because they are not just fighting their nicotine addiction but also the sensation or act of smoking,
  3. Aids like nicotine replacement - gums and patches are not as effective with women due to how nicotine affects their brain,
  4. Women may also be apprehensive about putting on weight, it's a popular belief that they replace cigarettes with junk food, and may justify smoking for weight control,
  5. Hormones fluctuations during the menstrual cycle can make quitting harder as women may also have to contend with emotions that cause them fall back into the smoking habit.

How Women Can Increase Their Chances Of Quitting For Good

If you really want to stop smoking you need to learn to cope with difficult feelings or situations. This may mean finding alternative ways of dealing stress.

For many, smoking is seen as a stress reliever (although it actually increases stress) so deep breathing exercises that mimic the habit of cigarette puffing, can really help. In fact, deep breathing exercises can not only provide a substitute for smoking but effectively reduce stress levels, unlike cigarettes.

Motivating and building self-confidence can also play an important role in quit smoking.

  1. Identify triggers to your smoking habit: when are you likely to feel like smoking? Recognise your patterns and understanding what your triggers to smoking are,
  2. Identify the reasons that you keep smoking. What causes you to have low mood and self-esteem, be anxious, get stressed etc.?
  3. Do things differently. Don’t try to do quit using the same approach as your male friends and relatives. Get support from a Cognitive Behaviour Therapist; try mindfulness, deep breathing exercises, and ask for support from family and friends and the people closest to you,
  4. Set goals: SMART- simple, measurable, achievable, realistic, timely goals: Set a date, time and clear all the cigarettes from your home, desk and car,
  5. Drink plenty of water at least 6-8 glasses per day,
  6. Start a plan to exercise regularly and keep the momentum going,
  7. Avoid situation that will cause you to smoke again – social situations, friends that smoke, going to the pub. Don’t worry it’s only a temporary measure, once you’ve taken control of your smoking you can start to do these things again!
  8. Get a new hobby to replace your addictive habit,
  9. Use positive self-talk that will motivate and distract you from smoking. Many women find that delaying smoking a cigarette is an effective way to reduce the amount you smoke over time. For example, instead of having your first cigarette on the way to work, decide to have it later in the day and gradually extend this period of time. The feeling of empowerment can be very motivating - taking control – in fact, you might then decide to delay that first cigarette for good.
  10. Your nicotine craving will last only for 20 minutes so tell yourself, ‘it will pass, I can get through it.’

Women need to develop the confidence to find the best way to give up smoking for them. Instead of being influenced by what works for other people, particularly men, or what manufacturers of nicotine replacement products advocate, women need to understand what techniques will be effective for them.

In my opinion, the first step is to understand why you smoke. Forget about nicotine addiction, but focus on the emotional reasons you crave cigarettes and address these first.

If you would like to find out more about cognitive behaviour therapy and how this can be used to uncover those emotional triggers and teach you healthier ways to manage these, and give up smoking, contact me for an informal chat.

You may also like to take advantage of a free 30 minute consultation to chat through any issues you currently face.


Weight Loss With CBT: A Case Study

A wake-up call from his doctor warning that he was pre-diabetic and on a slippery slope to becoming morbidly obese; was the catalyst that resulted in him contacting me.

Toby knew that he needed to change his behaviour and habits around food. Slimming products were not having the desired effect as he was overeating and not exercising. Having found out about Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) and clinical hypnotherapy, he decided that this was the way to turn his life around.

In just 6 sessions Toby was able to:

  • Gain control over his excessive eating and take control over what he eats,
  • Start an exercise regimen to suit his schedule and has now been going to the gym for the last two months,
  • Lose his target weight of 1 and a half stone in the 2 months since he has been to therapy with me.

Overweight And Miserable

When Toby came to me he was 42, four stone overweight, and living with his mother. He was increasingly finding that his weight was affecting his health, he found it difficult to get around and a blood test had shown his blood sugar levels were too high. His doctor had spelt out the prognosis, ‘lose the weight or you’ll become diabetic’ - diabetes and obesity can lead to other chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease.

As well as the impact on his physical health he was also feeling unhappy, self-conscious, anxious and lacked self-confidence because of his weight. This meant that he didn’t socialise and spent most of his free time playing computer games and watching old movies with his mum.

Bad Habits

When he first contacted me Toby said, ‘I snack a lot after my main meals, eating bread, chocolate, fatty foods and fizzy drinks. My mum cooks huge meals and I don’t want to hurt her feelings so I eat even when I am not hungry. I struggle with anxiety and panic attacks and eating makes me feel better, but that has meant I’ve withdrawn from the outside world and I’ve been hiding at home with mum’.

As his weight has increased Toby has found exercising difficult. He’s self-conscious of his body fat and his low mood has prevented him from feeling motivated and strong enough to go to the gym or to the pool for a swim.

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy And Clinical Hypnotherapy

‘From the minute I met Andrea I know that she understood exactly how I felt and she immediately put me at ease. The sessions were relaxed, informative and I learnt calming and relaxation techniques that I will take away for the rest of my life’.

The warning from his doctor came at the right time and Toby decided it was the time he took charge of his weight and life too. He thought clinical hypnotherapy would give him the motivation to change his thoughts and feelings about his image, and also his behaviour towards food. He wanted to eat less and exercise more. He wanted to start eating healthy meals, cut back on the snacks and find the motivation to exercise to tone his body. As a result, he would feel confident to go out with a few people at work and make friends. He thought that this would also give him the courage to move out and then start to cook and look after his own dietary needs. He was right!

I worked with Toby over 6 sessions and during this time he made some significant changes.

Initially, we worked on his self-esteem and his negative and self-critical feelings - ‘I am useless, worthless, unattractive, not worth loving’. We also changed his focus on food and the thoughts he had around eating - ‘if I start eating I cannot stop – I am really out of control’.

Instead, we found a new focus revolving around exercise, healthy eating and mindfulness. Taking control over his diet and food consumption has radically changed the negative emotions he had around food, and this has improved his self-esteem.

At the same time, Toby has made some changes at home and in his social life. He now cooks his own meals to ensure that they are healthy and for portion control, and he has started to socialise with a few people at work. As well as swimming once a week, he has also renewed an old hobby (bowling), which also gives him an opportunity to meet new people.

The stand out feature of this therapy was that it has changed him and his eating habits for good. He felt better that he had ever felt in his life. He also felt confident and asked his boss for a promotion and started doing a course on weekends and online so he could work towards this. CBT and clinical hypnotherapy has given him a new lease of life, and one new friendship he has made has the potential to become more serious.

‘After 6 sessions I was able to change my habits and behaviours with CBT’.

Now two months on from starting CBT and clinical hypnotherapy, he no longer has any sessions but is continuing to achieve his goals.

Toby now exercises four times a week and has lost 1 and a half stone. He feels confident that he now has the right mindset to continue this good work and lose the rest of the weight in a healthy and sensible way.

He has also moved into his own home.

Toby says, ‘In my opinion, CBT and clinical hypnotherapy is a healthier way to lose weight as it has dealt with the negative emotions and behaviours I had about food and my body image. Andrea has gently guided me towards a healthier way of living, giving me the tools to continue working towards my goals.’


If you would like to talk in confidence about your relationship with food, weight loss, body image, anxiety or any other issue that Toby’s story highlights, please contact me for a free 30 minute consultation. You can call 07967 151 790, email info@formindssake.com or book a consultation here.

 


Is Fear Of Failure Damaging Your Career Or Business Opportunities?

Lack of confidence or a fear of failure is a common issue that many business owners and professionals suffer from. It can cause problems with your health and personal life and could damage your career. This fear of failing is conditioned in us and is caused by mistakes made in the past or our childhood experiences. To advance in life and stop things that will remove you from the world of opportunity, you can make a choice to overcome this fear and improve your self-confidence.

  • Do you find it difficult to finish a project because you’re doubtful of the results?
  • Do you, in front of strangers, avoid making a stand on issues you are passionate about?
  • Do you hide away from networking for your business with strangers even if it’s important?
  • Do you avoid pitching to new clients or applying for new jobs because you think you might not get it - even when you have the right experience and expertise?

If any of the above questions resonate with you then you should know that you are not alone. People hate to fail, failure presents itself as a threat to their motivation to be successful and they would do anything to avoid this threat. But fear of failure could actually be more damaging than failure itself, stopping you grasping new opportunities or taking risks that could result in career development or business success.

Fear Of Failure, Self-Confidence And Self-Esteem

Signs that you fear to fail at things:

  • Hesitation in trying something new or getting involved in a project that challenges you.
  • Anxious thoughts and procrastination that damage your self-esteem, and telling yourself that you are unable to complete your goals.
  • Low self-confidence reinforced by your negative thoughts.
  • Limiting yourself by only attempting challenges that you can finish perfectly, or you don't try at all.

As you can see if you are risk-averse and always try to avoid doing things that you might potentially fail at, you limit your opportunities and also damage your self-esteem. However, if you view these perceived failures as opportunities to grow, learn, adapt to new things, and make positive changes, you can use failure as a tool to help you achieve more than if you didn’t try to start with.

  • Are you risk-adverse? If you fail at something you can learn from your mistakes and the next time it will be better. How you perceive this failure and use this as a stepping-stone towards managing these setbacks can be seen as a secret towards your success.
  • Do you give up really easily? Your career and ambition is important and there will be challenges ahead, some will be easy and some are difficult. Don't give up too quickly or you might regret it and it will damage your future.
  • Do you have expectations that are unrealistic? When you make your goals make them SMART (Simple Measurable Achievable Realistic Timely) and accept that you can only do this within your limitations. In order to achieve success take your first challenge and then the next and next one after.

You can be successful if you are realistic, expect to face a few failures, obstacles and problems; acknowledge them, deal with them and never give up. Ask yourself ‘How much further would I be in my career if I could gain control over the fear of failure?’

“Failure is simply an opportunity to being again, this time more intelligently” Henry Ford.

How To Overcome The Fear Of Failure

The first step is to acknowledge that with the choices and decisions we make there is always a chance we can fail. Face the challenge that you have in front of you and embrace it.

  • Evaluate all potential outcomes: If you have a clear idea of possible outcomes, good and bad, you will be in control and this is has a positive effect on self-esteem.
  • Stop thinking negatively: It’s normal for you to fear failure but if it’s preventing you from achieving what you want out of life, it’s time to take control and get help.
  • Think positively: An incredibly powerful way to build your self-confidence is by eliminating all self-sabotaging thoughts and focus on positive thinking.
  • Have a plan for unforeseen circumstances: When you know what you will do if things don’t work out, you will be able to move forward and build confidence in yourself.

Goal setting is another important aspect. Important for self-confidence and for defining how you want to progress in your career. Experts recommend a tool called visualisation, where you can imagine your life having achieved your goals and this will keep you moving forward positively. You can start with taking small goals first and this will help build your self-confidence and prevent you from getting overwhelmed. With growing self-confidence, it will be possible to tackle the bigger goals when you’re ready.

Why Failure Can Be Positive

Once you have conquered your fear of failure, you may actually embrace it! Failure can teach us lots of useful things;

  • How to do these better or differently in the future,
  • How small fails are often insignificant when we look at the big picture,
  • How resilient and innovative you can be when things go wrong.

These experiences help us to become less risk-averse when faced with new opportunities or challenges, and this, in turn, means you are more likely to succeed and achieve your goals.

Changing the way you think about failure, your self-esteem and self-confidence can be difficult, especially if your fear of failure has become entrenched. However the benefits of overcoming this fear are infinite - potentially opening up an exciting new career trajectory, business growth, wealth or job satisfaction.


If this is something you struggle with and would like help for, contact me for an informal chat and to see whether a few sessions of hypnotherapy for confidence could help you.

07967151790 or astarandrea@gmail.com


Insomnia: Why Can’t I Sleep At Night?

Do you struggle to get to sleep no matter how tired you are? Or do you wake up in the middle of the night and lie awake for hours, anxiously watching the clock?

Insomnia is the inability to get the amount of sleep you need to wake up feeling rested and refreshed. Because different people need different amounts of sleep, insomnia is defined by the quality of your sleep and how you feel after sleeping—not the number of hours you sleep or how quickly you doze off. Even if you’re spending eight hours a night in bed, if you feel drowsy and fatigued during the day, you may be experiencing insomnia.

Read on for my tips for getting to sleep, and getting back to sleep if you wake in the middle of the night…

Stop Insomnia Without Medication

Sleeplessness is a common problem that takes a toll on your energy, mood, health, and ability to function during the day. Fortunately, you don’t have to resign yourself to sleepless nights. Simple changes to your lifestyle and daily habits can put a stop to sleeplessness without the need for medication.

Symptoms of not sleeping well include:

  • difficulty in falling asleep despite being tired,
  • having trouble getting back to sleep when waking in the middle of the night,
  • waking up too early in the morning,
  • relying on sleeping pills or alcohol to fall asleep,
  • feeling tired even after a nights sleep,
  • daytime drowsiness, fatigue or irritability,
  • difficulty concentrating during the day.

8 Tips For Dropping Of To Sleep: 

  1. Wind-down for at least 30 minutes before you go to bed with a warm drink (caffeine free) or by reading a book. Switch off the bright lights and don't do anything that keeps you alert,
  2. Switch off all your electronic devices like computers and phones as the illuminated screens on these devices can keep you alert and makes it harder for your brain to switch off,
  3. Keep a notepad by your bedside to write a list of things that are going through your mind that is keeping you up at night,
  4. If you go to bed at night and don't fall asleep for 20- 30 minutes, go to the living room and read or listen to some relaxing music. There is no point lying in bed as it can build an unhealthy connection between your wakefulness and sleeping. Use your bed for sleeping so your brain associates it to going to sleep,
  5. Try to go bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time as well. This creates a routine and it will adjust your body clock accordingly,
  6. Stressful activity like reading a report or trying to sort a work issue can keep you up, so create a routine that you will stop work at a specific time at night,
  7. Try to avoid late meals before going to bed. Foods rich in fat are difficult to digest and spicy or acidic foods can give you heartburn that will keep you awake at night,
  8. Exercising regularly can help with your insomnia symptoms, promoting activity during the day, but not near your bedtime.

5 Tips For Going Back To Sleep When You Wake Up In The Middle Of The Night:

  1. Avoid drinking coffee after a certain time at night as it promotes wakefulness,
  2. Get some blackout blinds as that your environment around bedtime is dark and quiet. Block out all sounds that can disturb your sleep routine,
  3. Practice a deep breathing technique,
  4. If you still cannot fall asleep for 20 – 30 minutes, get out of bed and read in another room until you feel tired again and then go to bed,
  5. Write down everything that is worrying you and keeping you awake to deal with in the morning.

Relaxation and mindfulness techniques can harness the body’s natural relaxation response and help when you feel wound up and tense, feeling unable to let go of stress and anxious thoughts at the end of the day. These techniques will help to calm and quieten your mind, relieve your stress and tension in your body. This will help you get to sleep quicker and if you wake up at night you will be able to fall back to sleep.

Try some of these breathing techniques to help with your sleep routine:

  • Abdominal breathing: Close your eyes and take a deep breath in, not only through your chest but also your abdomen, ribcage and lower back. Make sure each breath is slow, breath deeply in through the nose and breath out slowly through the mouth.
  • Mindfulness and meditation: Sit down quietly and focus your attention on your breathing and how you feel at that moment. Allow all your emotions and thoughts to flow naturally without stopping them or judging them and when your attention drifts away to bring your focus back to your breath.
  • Muscle relaxation: Start from the top of your head and progressively tense your muscles to the count of ten and relax to the count of ten, relaxing all your muscles from the head down to the tips of your toes. Do this for all your muscle groups in the body so that you feel relaxed and calm before going to bed.

Cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) can also break the cycle of sleeplessness. Regular practice of the above techniques together with CBT can relieve stress and anxiety. This practice becomes a part of your routine and you are able to relax when you go to bed and fall asleep easily, also when you wake up in the middle of the night.

If you would like to explore how hypnotherapy can help you sleep better at night, click here. To speak to me in confidence about any issues that are worrying you, please call 0796 715 1790 or email info@formindssake.com