Ask at least ten smokers why they smoke and most of them will tell you the same thing – to combat stress. Many people believe that cigarettes are effective in reducing stress. But according to experts, they are “fooling themselves”.
Cigarettes are no stress relievers. Here’s the thing. When you smoke, the nicotine in tobacco travels through your blood vessels up to your head and causes changes in your brain’s reward system. It triggers a spike in your dopamine levels, resulting to a temporary boost in your mood. And as mention, the improvement in your mood is only temporary. You need to smoke more cigarettes to keep its “feel-good” effects. In the long run, your brain would start to become dependent to cigarettes and you won’t feel satisfied with just a stick or two.
Another reason why most smokers don’t quit is because they believe that quitting is a stressful process. Actually, it is. If you have already developed nicotine addiction, giving up the habit could result to undesirable symptoms that can stress you out. Nicotine withdrawal can make smokers feel anxious and jittery. It can cause them to feel irritable too. As a matter of fact, stress is the most common reasons why majority of smokers fail in their attempt to quit for good.
Fortunately, there are plenty of strategies you can try whenever you feel overwhelmed with stress. Here are some of them:
Resolve short-term problems as they arise.
Little nuisances, no matter how small they are, can pile up and become unbearable problems. As much as possible, you really don’t want to be dealing with lots of problems when you are trying to quit smoking. So take time to resolve small issues as they arise.
Focus on the here and now.
Being aware of what you feel – the physical symptoms and emotions you are experiencing while quitting is a good strategy to fight stress. Don’t burden yourself with the worries of tomorrow or troubles in the past. Focus your energy and attention to your goal of quitting smoking.
Learn to recognize early signs of stress.
The sooner you deal with the symptoms of stress, the little effort you need to conquer them. Signs of stress include fatigue, restlessness, depression, anger, agitation, sleeplessness and anxiety.
You will find stress management techniques that can greatly help you deal with stress. These include breathing techniques, meditation, exercise, quality sleep, and rest.
You will find the first days and weeks of quitting smoking to be extremely exhausting and overwhelming. Just be patient. As the days pass by, the withdrawal symptoms will get easier to handle and you will be less affected by stress.
Call a friend.
Sometimes, you need someone to cheer you up and who could better do that than a dear friend? It only takes one text message, phone call, or email to your friends. These people can provide you with the support, love, understanding, and care you need to go through the stressful period of quitting smoking.