Smoking, Stress, and Keeping Calm

by Dr Antonio Howell, MD

in quit smoking

Dr. Howell

Cigarette smoking is among the leading causes of cancer, heart and lung disease, stroke, and other serious health problems. But amidst the well-established studies and researches about the harmful effects of smoking, millions of people around the world get hooked to smoking. And what is more bothering is – you can’t simply quit and even if you did succeed quitting, there is always the possibility of a relapse. And among the most common relapse triggers is stress.Depressed man

Stress happens to every one of us. But if you’re quitting, or staying quit, stress can be a great obstacle between you and a nicotine-free life. Learning how to control and manage your stress levels can actually save your efforts and your health – literally.

Stress and Smoking


Majority of smokers would light up the moment they feel stressed. This response to stress later becomes a lifelong pattern which strengthens stress as a trigger. It worsens year after year, until such point that you can longer remember or identify the things you do to cope with stress other than smoking. The absence of emotional or psychological coping mechanisms for a long period of time combined with strong nicotine addiction requires new coping mechanisms and behavioral changes to manage stress effectively.

Smoking, where ever you look at it, never help managed stress. In fact, it causes it and disguises it. Nicotine addiction causes stress through a continuous cycle of craving – you fulfill the craving by smoking – feel better; the nicotine declines and you crave again – you become stress; you smoke, and so on. If smoking made you feel better, it is because smoking did fix the stress that nicotine craving has created in the first place.

Stress and Your Body

If left unmanaged, stress can make the person feel overwhelmed which can lead to depression and anxiety. The body reacts negatively to stress. When a person is stress, there is an increased secretion of adrenaline which results to increased blood pressure and blood sugar, and reduced digestion. Stress harms the heart, lowers the immune system, affects sleep pattern, reduces mental activities, increases fatigue and insomnia, and affects your focus.

Keeping Your Cool


There are several ways that can help you manage stress minus the nicotine, such as a short walk in the park, warm bath, a dinner with friend, watching movies, hitting the gym, etc. You can also seek professional help for counseling, meditation, and hypnosis.


When confronted by a stressful situation a simple breathing exercise can be very helpful. Learning to cope with stress without the nicotine will be very useful in your effort to quit and stay quit.

Positive Attracts Positive

There are many things you want to be thankful of. Thinking of the wonderful and good things in your life allows you to see the good things in you and keep you motivated throughout the quitting process. Staying positive draws more good things towards you, so be thankful and appreciate what life have to offer. There is no better gift to yourself than a good health.


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