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Managing day-to-day stress

Deep Breathing

The key to relaxed breathing is your stomach.

  1. Draw the breath in by pushing your stomach out and letting your chest move up (try not to move your back) then breathe out by pulling your stomach in and letting your chest drop a bit.
  2. Breathe in gradually through your nose as you count to 5 and take in as much air as you can.
  3. Hold your breath to a count of 10 (if you can last that long) then let it out gradually. (As an alternative you can let it out in a rush, through your mouth.)
  4. Concentrate on how your body feels, particularly as the air comes out. You should feel your body relaxing.
  5. Repeat (if you have time) - 3 is a good number of repetitions to aim for. Each breath should result in you feeling just a little more relaxed.

Muscle Relaxation

This is part of a technique called Progressive Muscle Relaxation where you systematically tense and relax all the muscle groups in your body.

  1. Pick one or two muscles - it’s best if they’re in places that are feeling tense but any body part will do.
  2. Sit or lie comfortably, then as you take in a deep breath tense the muscles you have chosen e.g. make your hands into tight fists, or lift your shoulders up high and tense your neck. Hold your breath and hold the muscles tight for the count of 10 (if you can last that long).
  3. Let go as you breathe out. All the while focus your mind on what you are experiencing, the tension while tensing and the flow of relaxation as you let go. Notice the way the body parts become limp and loose. Breathe slowly for a few seconds while you enjoy the relaxed feeling.
  4. Repeat this with as many parts of the body as you have time. Doing each tense-then-relax cycle twice is also good. Also, try listening to Quit’s Ten Good Ways of Relaxing audio ...


Download the mp3 

Mindfulness

Mindfulness involves focusing on what is happening right now, your 'moment-to-moment' experience - both internal and external.

Avoid thinking about the past or the future, what the feelings or thoughts mean, or what is happening somewhere else. For example, you could focus on your breathing or the feel of the sunlight on your skin.

If thoughts about other things come into your mind (and they will) simply note that they have occurred and return your focus to the present. It’s impossible to focus on everything that is happening here and now so you need to choose one simple thing

You only need to do this activity for a few seconds to get an initial benefit . Persist for longer and it can have more benefits. It can be very useful when you’re in a situation when you can't use other strategies.

Practising other ways to feel better can be helpful when you’re stressed

  • Exercise is a great stress-buster
    • Make a plan that is realistic for you to achieve. Getting more exercise can be as simple as getting off the bus one stop early or using stairs instead of lifts. Or try signing up for some group exercises or team sports.
  • Write down the things that typically make you feel stressed
    • Family? Work? Traffic? Brainstorm different ways to combat stressful moments so that you don't feel the temptation to smoke again. Start practising these strategies.
  • Make a change in your routine
    • Get up earlier or go for a morning walk. Instead of smoking when you're stuck in traffic, call a friend (hands free) or take a soft, rubber ball in the car to do hand exercises.
  • Eat healthier
    • Include lots of healthy snacks such as carrot or celery sticks and fruit.
  • Spend time with positive people
    • It’s helpful to be around people who are supportive of you quitting smoking.
  • Treat yourself to a fun activity
    • Take a weekend getaway, fishing trip, full body massage or something that you've wanted to do for a while but put off.
  • Reduce or go off alcohol for a while
    • Try water with lemon or a low-calorie soft drink instead.
  • Reduce your caffeine consumption
    • Try drinking less caffeine - quitting smoking increases the effects of caffeine in your body, and can make you feel nervous or cranky.

Your GP can refer you to a psychologist to learn new ways to manage stress if need be. Medicare rebates are available .

Quitting product selection guide

Patches Nicotine replacement product

The patch is worn on the skin and your body absorbs nicotine from it continuously, either during the day only (15mg, 16 hr patch) or over 24 hours (21mg, 24 hr patch).

The patch typcially comes in three strengths for weaning off nicotine over 12 or so weeks: Step 1 (21mg), Step 2 (14mg) and Step 3 (7mg). Some smokers benefit from just using Step 1, others from stepping down through all three strengths. Since May 2013, a 25mg (step 1) 16 hr patch has also been available, which goes with a 15mg (step 2) and 10mg (step 3) patch.

There is also an option of a pre-quit patch (21mg, 24 hrs) for use in the two weeks prior to quitting. The pre-quit patch is for smokers who struggle to quit completely the first day they start the patches.

Patches are available at a more affordable subsidised cost on prescription from a GP. Using the patches can help to reduce withdrawal symptoms such as cravings, irritability, and restlessness. Patches nearly double your chance of quitting.

Gum Nicotine replacement product

Nicotine gum is chewed for a short while and releases nicotine while you rest it in the side of your mouth. The gum comes in two strenghts: 2mg and 4mg.

Take the gum at regular times during the day to help prevent cravings or just before entering situations where you expect cravings.

Gum is useful if: you want to control how much nicotine you take, you have bad morning cravings or if you get most of your cravings in particular situations.

Gum is not suitable if you have dentures or some types of dental work.

Gum nearly doubles your chance of quitting.

Lozenge Nicotine replacement product

Nicotine lozenges and mini lozenges are tablets that dissolve in your mouth. They are available in standard (2mg/1.5mg) strength and extra (4mg) strength.

Take the lozenge at regular times during the day to help prevent cravings or just before entering situations where you expect cravings.

Take more than one or extra strength varieties when you expect strong cravings.

You can also use lozenges while cutting down the number of cigarettes you smoke before you stop smoking.

The lozenge nearly doubles your chance of quitting.

Mouth spray Nicotine replacement product

The mouth spray works by replacing some of the nicotine you would normally inhale from cigarettes, providing comfort by lessening withdrawal symptoms and helping your body wean off nicotine over a number of weeks.

To release the nicotine, you spray on the inside of your cheek, or under your tongue, once or twice. A benefit of this product is the speed of the nicotine’s absorption into your system compared to other oral nicotine products.

Using the mouth spray can help to reduce withdrawal symptoms when you quit, such as cravings, irritability, and restlessness. Mouth spray nearly doubles your chance of quitting.

Inhalator Nicotine replacement product

The inhalator works by replacing some of the nicotine you would normally inhale from cigarettes, providing comfort by lessening withdrawal symptoms and helping your body wean off nicotine over a number of weeks.

You insert a cartridge into the inhalator and draw the vapor into your mouth. You can puff on it as long as you would a cigarette – after around 80 puffs, or 15 minutes or so, the cartridge will be empty. A benefit of the inhalator is that it mimics the hand-to-mouth action of smoking.

Using the mouth spray can help to reduce withdrawal symptoms such as cravings, irritability, and restlessness. The inhalator nearly doubles your chance of quitting.

Champix Quitting medication

Champix is a medication developed to help people quit smoking and is available on prescription from your GP. It works by reducing withdrawal symptoms and by blunting the satisfying effects of smoking. Using Champix can help reduce withdrawal symptoms when you quit, such as cravings, irritability and restlessness.

Champix is a 12-week course. The advice is to continue to smoke in the first week and to set a quit date for some time in the second week. As the dose builds up, cigarettes will start to be less desirable, and it will be easier to cut down before your quit date. It’s important to take Champix for the full 12 weeks, even if you’re feeling confident, to help prevent relapse.

Champix more than doubles your chance of quitting.

Zyban Quitting medication

Zyban is an anti-craving medication that is available on prescription to help people stop smoking. Using Zyban can help to reduce withdrawal symptoms when you quit, such as cravings, irritability and restlessness. Zyban can also make smoking feel less rewarding.

Zyban is a 9-week course. You slowly build the dose up in the first week. The advice is to continue to smoke in the first week of Zyban, and set a quit date for some time in the second week. It’s important to take Zyban for the full nine weeks, even if you’re feeling confident, as even after regular cravings have faded, staying on Zyban can help prevent relapse.

Zyban nearly doubles your chance of quitting.