While there is no scientific evidence linking smoking and stress, many people believe that smoking can help them calm down. If you’re one of the thousands if not millions of people who have developed nicotine dependence because you resort to cigarettes when you are stressed, you must know this sad truth: smoking can never ease your stress.
Whether you are just planning to quit, or is currently undergoing a smoking cessation treatment, the following self-help strategies can help you resist cigarette cravings even on tough days – or those moments when you feel stressed and overwhelmed by work and life challenges.
Keep your hands and mind busy.
When you are focused on something, there’s little chance that you will be tempted to light up. Keeping yourself busy doesn’t mean doing a strenuous task even when you are tired (this only aggravates your stress levels and therefore increase your cigarette cravings). You can keep your mind and hand busy by doing fun leisure activities like solving a puzzle, playing a video game, taking your dog out for a walk, etc.
Get your daily dose of exercise.
Exercise is a powerful antidote to stress. At least 30 minutes of physical activity, 5 times per week can provide you with significant health benefits, including lower stress levels. When you exercise, your brain produces endorphins – the chemicals that reverse the effects of the stress hormone called cortisol. Furthermore, endorphins promote feelings of wellness, so you are less likely to crave for cigarettes. Yes, you are hitting two birds in one stone.
Pass on alcohol.
If you think alcohol is going to make you feel calmer and relaxed, think again. Not only does it cause havoc in your body, it’s also a powerful smoking trigger. Alcohol is one of the many reasons people go back to lighting up. Alcohol is often paired with smoking, so it can be a powerful temptation in your moment of weakness.
Keep a journal.
Writing is a great stress-busting strategy because it allows you to peacefully release emotions, and at the same time, gives you clarity about why you are feeling such way. Do keep a quit smoking journal as well, wherein you can write about your reasons for quitting, your triggers, and the important reminders given by your doctor.
Give time for pleasure.
Do things that give you pure fun and pleasure. It could be your hobby, or something you never tried before. Smile, laugh and be silly. Like what they say – laughter’s the best medicine. Do what your PE teacher said – Get enough rest and sleep, and follow a balanced diet. Your body needs time to recover from stressful events.
Quitting smoking is easier when you are not stressed. But the thing is that stress is completely unavoidable. It’s always there, trying to push us to our limits. But you don’t have to be afraid. You can prevent a smoking relapse induced by stress by taking these simple steps. They are easy, doable, and tested to help you stay quit for as long as possible.