Do you smoke when you’re stressed? You’re not alone; the majority of smokers use cigarettes as a way to cope with stress. It feels like a way to escape, so reaching for a cigarette can become an automatic response to the difficult emotions in life.
A common misconception is that having a cigarette will help alleviate the symptoms of stress. Truth is; nicotine actually makes stressful or difficult situations worse.
Nicotine causes your heart rate and blood pressure to spike, meaning your heart has to work harder and it becomes difficult to relax. When you haven’t had a cigarette for a while, you experience withdrawal symptoms and crave nicotine. The nicotine relieves those cravings and gives you a brief hit of dopamine. The cycle begins again.
It is difficult to train your brain out of the urge to smoke when things get hectic, but it is possible. You can take control back over your life.
Here are five ways to manage stress without smoking:
1. Do things you enjoy. It may be meeting friends, going shopping, or knitting a new jumper. Take time to do the activities that make you happy.
2. Get physical. Doing something active is great for your physical and mental health; fresh air and raising your heartbeat all contribute to relieving the symptoms of stress.
3. Breathe. Breathing exercises or mindfulness practices such as meditation and yoga can help you manage the way your mind and your body respond to stress. Find some examples here.
4. Learn to say no. It’s OK to say no to invitations or offers to do things – socialising can be exhausting, so make sure you free up time to look after yourself and relax.
5. Speak to someone. It feels great to vent to friends, family or colleagues – you will know the people in your life who give the best advice. You could also try speaking to a qualified professional – our Quit specialists are trained counsellors and on-hand to offer you friendly advice.
We’re here to help you combat stress without cigarettes. We’ve helped hundreds of thousands of people quit smoking over the past 30 years.
Calling the Quitline increases your chances of quitting successfully. Dial 13 7848 and speak to our friendly and qualified Quit specialists today, or request a callback at a convenient time for you.
Janine smoked 10 cigarettes a day for 34 years, and admits “Any emotional reaction would bring on a craving for a cigarette.”
During her quit journey, she realised that the stress and anxiety she felt was actually caused by smoking. Janine recommends going for a walk or taking some time out to breathe if you encounter a stressful situation.