Quitting Smoking: Stress

by Dr Antonio Howell, MD

in quit smoking

Dr. Howell

While your ability to cope with stress improves as your body recovers from nicotine dependence, the early days of your quit can be very stressful. Your success on managing this intense, yet temporary, phase depends on how well prepared you are.

SocialStress and Nicotine Withdrawal


When you smoke, nicotine and other harmful compounds enter your body and it becomes dependent to these chemicals. Once you quit, your body no longer receives them and you start to feel the withdrawal symptoms.


Often referred to as the “quitter’s flu”, nicotine withdrawal symptoms can make you feel like you’re sick, even if you’re not.

Common nicotine withdrawal symptoms:

  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Lack of focus
  • Headaches
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Dry mouth
  • Constipation
  • Tightness in the chest
  • Cravings for cigarettes

Most smokers would feel combinations of these symptoms, but if you feel that the symptoms are not ordinary like coughing up blood or you’re worried about your condition, don’t hesitate and immediately set an appointment with your doctor. Having your condition checked at the early days of your quit is a good decision, regardless.

Luckily, nicotine withdrawal symptoms and the stress linked to it are only temporary and short-lived. Soon you’ll be feeling better and healthier.

 The Psychological Stress of Quitting Smoking

Aside from the physical symptoms of quitting smoking, you also need to deal with the psychological aspects of quitting. And that simple thought of letting go of something that has been part of you for a long time – can be very stressful. Why?


You smoke when you’re happy, angry, bored, sad, etc. Smoking becomes your companion, and this association you have for smoking is quite difficult break. This relationship you have created through the years when suddenly stopped, you feel emotionally loss, and this can sweep you off your feet surprisingly. Making it quite more stressful to quit.

Recovering from nicotine addiction is a gradual process. If you want to manage stress, you need to learn how to change your relationship with cigarettes. Replace smoking with something that is healthier, little by little these healthier choices will become part of the new you. For instance, if you feel bored, take a short walk around the neighbourhood, or play with your dog, it will keep your mind away from smoking.

Quitting smoking is like a roller coaster ride, but if you have the proper mind set and preparation quitting is a lot easier than you think it is. You need to understand that it’s a process that requires patience and strong will. In time, you’ll heal. You need to understand that the years you spend smoking is a hard habit to break. If you fail on your first try, don’t feel too bad about yourself, it will only drag you deeper to nicotine addiction, instead learn and use that learning to become stronger. So that on your next try, you’ll be more successful on your quit. Don’t stress yourself.

Be patient. Quitting smoking is not a race. Don’t rush, take little step at a time. Soon these little steps will take you miles towards a nicotine-free life. Enjoy your journey.


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