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How To Deal With Stress After Quitting Smoking

How Can I Resist The Urge To Smoke When Im Feeling Stressed

Depression After Quitting Smoking – How to Deal With it and Why it Happens

Most smokers report that one reason they smoke is to handle stress. This happens because smoking cigarettes actually relieves some of your stress by releasing powerful chemicals in your brain. Temporary changes in brain chemistry cause you to experience decreased anxiety, enhanced pleasure, and alert relaxation. Once you stop smoking, you may become more aware of stress.

Everyday worries, responsibilities, and hassles can all contribute to stress. As you go longer without smoking, you will get better at handling stress, especially if you learn stress reduction and relaxation techniques.

Here are some tips:

  • Know the causes of stress in your life and identify the stress signals . Once you pinpoint high-risk trigger situations, you can start to develop new ways to handle them.
  • Create peaceful times in your everyday schedule. For example, set aside an hour where you can get away from other people and your usual environment.
  • Try relaxation techniques, such as progressive relaxation or yoga, and stick with the one that works best for you.
  • Rehearse and visualize your relaxation plan. Put your plan into action. Change your plan as needed.
  • You may find it helpful to read a book about how to handle stress.

Stress Management When Quitting Smoking

If you have decided to stop smoking or have recently quit, learning to cope with stress is very important for your success. Changing long time habits of smoking, combined with the physical withdrawal from nicotine, is a very stressful situation in itself. Learning stress management techniques such as positive visualization, progressive muscle relaxation and deep breathing exercises will help to alleviate the stress felt when you become smoke free. Take advantage of the smoking cessation programs and stress reduction workshops that are offered. These programs and workshops will give you the tools and techniques needed for successful stress management when quitting smoking.

How Can I Resist The Urge To Smoke When Im Drinking An Alcoholic Beverage

You may be used to smoking when drinking beer, wine, liquor, or mixed drinks, and you may associate good feelings with drinking alcoholic beverages. When you quit smoking, you may feel a strong urge to smoke when you drink alcohol. Know this up front if you are going to drink. If you do drink, keep in mind that your control over your behavior may be impaired under the influence of alcohol. When you try to quit smoking, drinking alcohol may make it even tougher to cope.

Here are some tips for the first few weeks after quitting:

  • Many people find it helpful to reduce or avoid drinking alcohol.
  • Switch to nonalcoholic drinks.
  • If you do drink, donât choose the alcoholic beverages you usually have when smoking.
  • Donât drink at home or by yourself.
  • Stay away from the places you usually drink alcohol, or drink only with nonsmoking friends.

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Ways To Help You Quit

Stopping smoking suddenly through willpower alone is the least effective way to quit. If you plan ahead, have support and choose the right time to try, youre more likely to be successful. If youre feeling unstable, experiencing a crisis or undergoing significant changes in your life, youre less likely to quit.

If you take antidepressants or antipsychotic medicines, talk to your GP or psychiatrist before you stop smoking. The dosage you take may need to be monitored and the amount you need to take could be reduced. This is because smoking can reduce the levels of some medications in the blood, so you may need a lower dose when you quit.

Prepare for change

Think about your relationship with smoking. Write down what you will gain by not smoking, such as better physical health, fresher breath, improved concentration and more money to spend on other things.

Get support from family and friends

Stopping smoking can be easier with the support of family and friends. If you live with people who smoke, or have friends who smoke, suggest to them that you give up together. If other household members smoke, encourage them not to smoke around you or leave their cigarettes, ashtrays or lighters where you will see them.

Find other ways to cope with stress

Find a local stop smoking service

Talk to your GP

Many people dont realise their GP can help them stop smoking. They may enrol you in a stop smoking clinic, or prescribe nicotine replacement therapy or stop smoking medicine.

Learn To Recognize The Warning Signs Of Stress

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Stress is sometimes defined as a bodily reaction to sudden changes in the environment. Trying to quit smoking is a major change, and it’s stressful for almost everyone. Of course, people handle stress differently what is stressful for you may not be stressful for your sibling or neighbor, for example.

Unfortunately, when you quit smoking, your stress level increases at the very time when you’re giving up one of your ways of coping: your cigarettes. When this happens, you may experience physical stress from nicotine withdrawal, including:

Some people also experience insomnia, anxiety, depression, irritability, and fatigue. Learn to recognize your signs of withdrawal, and make sure your friends and family are aware that youre experiencing these feelings. If they know what youre going through, theyll be more likely to overlook your temporary irritability.

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Use Time And Patience As Quit Buddies

So often, we’re in a rush to get things done and to see instant results from the challenges we take on. Smoking cessation is one area where we must suspend that desire for instant gratification. Addiction recovery and erasing years of habit take time. Be patient and don’t put yourself on a timetable with smoking cessation. Allow recovery to unfold for you as it will, and you will find your freedom just as others before you have.

How To Stay Motivated When Trying To Quit

It can take you a few tries before you find success. But dont give up.

Its OK if you have to start over again, says Dr. Solanki. A lot of people feel guilty about it. Relapsing doesnt make you a failure.

So, dont be too hard on yourself. Re-evaluate your plan and start again. And keep in mind your reason for quitting whether youre doing it for your family or to improve your health.

Youre the only person who can make yourself quit, says Dr. Solanki. You have control over what you put in your body.

Remember the facts: Smoking can kill you. And think about how much better youll feel once smoking is out of your life.

Its a commitment that you need to make to yourself and your future self, says Dr. Solanki. You have to be ready to quit.

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The Physical Stress Of Quitting

When you quit smoking, your body physically reacts to nicotine withdrawal and the absence of the many thousands of chemicals in cigarettes. As harmful as smoking is, your body becomes accustomed to receiving doses of those chemicals multiple times a day.

Sometimes referred to as quitter’s flu, symptoms of nicotine withdrawal can make you feel like you’re sick, even though you’re not.

Common symptoms of nicotine withdrawal include:

  • Constipation, including gas/stomach discomfort
  • Sore throat
  • Tightness in the chest

Most people who have recently quit smoking will experience some combination of the symptoms above, but if you are ever concerned about how you’re feeling, don’t hesitate to contact a healthcare provider. A check-up early on in smoking cessation is a good idea regardless.

Thankfully, nicotine withdrawal and the stress associated with it are temporary.

One 2014 systematic review and meta-analysis published in BMJ found that in three older studies, quitting smoking was associated with a significant in stress.

Reward Yourself When You Succeed

Dealing with your stress and emotions while quitting smoking.

Celebrate your victory and enjoy the fruits of it. Theres nothing wrong with being satisfied with your effort and success. Even treat yourself, if you want. That treat can be anything you want as long as you can realistically afford it.

Im not going to suggest quitting is easy. Its not and for many reasons. But quitting will help in your desire to overcome anxiety disorder and its symptoms. Quitting smoking is a goal well-worth pursuing and working at, similar to that of overcoming anxiety disorder.

Youll thank yourself when you begin to experience improved health and quality of life!

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How To Manage Cravings And Withdrawal When You Quit Smoking

Quitting smoking might be a struggle, but the good news is that the challenges wont last forever and there are ways to get through it. If youre trying to quit smoking, congratulations on taking a huge step towards better health! Youre joining more than half of U.S. adult smokers who have attempted to quit smoking in the past year.

But between the withdrawal symptoms and cravings, not to mention the smoking triggers that can hit you by surprise, quitting smoking is not easy and relapses are common.

Luckily, theres tons of support and advice for how to deal with these challenges, and many people have succeeded in quitting completely. In fact, in 2018, the CDC reported that 61.7% of adults who had ever smoked had quit. By knowing what to expect, managing your stress and finding ways to distract yourself when cravings hit, you can be one of them.

When you quit smoking, be prepared for withdrawal symptoms. For many smokers, their bodies become physically addicted to nicotine. When you quit, your body has to adjust to not having nicotine in its system, leading to symptoms like cravings, sadness or depression, weight gain, restlessness or fatigue. Cravings are one of the most common symptoms.

Social triggers happen when youre around other people who are smoking. Pattern triggers come from activities and routines connected with smoking, such as talking on the phone, drinking, or taking a work break.

The Problem Of Quitting Smoking When You Have Anxiety Disorder

Nicotine increases dopamine in the brain, the neurotransmitter often referred to as the feel good chemical. This is one of the reasons smokers believe smoking reduces stress. Its not that smoking reduces stress, but that the smoker feels better due to the boost in dopamine.

Nicotine is also a stimulant similar to caffeine. Caffeine brings about its stimulating effect by causing the body to release cortisol, the bodys most powerful stress hormone stimulant. Cortisol gives the body a boost in energy, making us feel good and alive. The combination of dopamine and cortisol can make a person feel pretty good.

The problem, however, is that the body can build a tolerance to nicotine, which then requires more and more to feel good. Then, when the body doesnt get it, we can feel poorly, which is only relieved by more nicotine. Hence, the physical addiction. Another reason some smokers believe smoking relaxes them is due to nicotine dampening down the symptoms of addiction.

But cortisol stresses the body, which means smoking also stresses the body. Anxiety, because it triggers the release of stress hormones, also stresses the body. Consequently, you have two factors triggering cortisol, both of which stress the body. A body that becomes chronically stressed can exhibit symptoms.

Together, these factors can create multiple problems, such as:

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Nicotine Makes Stressful Or Difficult Situations Worse

  • Nicotine causes your heart rate and blood pressure to spike. Your heart has to work harder making it difficult to fully relax.
  • When you havent had a cigarette for a while, you experience nicotine withdrawal. A big part of nicotine withdrawal is feeling stressed and irritable.
  • Then when you do have a smoke, the nicotine relieves those cravings and gives you a brief hit of dopamine, a brain-reward chemical.
  • But then the cycle begins again as your heart rate and blood pressure spike.
  • Within six weeks of quitting most people say their mood is better and they feel less stressed than when they smoked.

What Can I Do About Anger Frustration And Irritability

Best Ways to Deal With Stress After Quitting Smoking

After you quit smoking, you may feel edgy and short-tempered, and you may want to give up on tasks more quickly than usual. You may be less tolerant of others and get into more arguments.

Studies have found that the most common negative feelings associated with quitting are feelings of anger, frustration, and irritability. These negative feelings peak within 1 week of quitting and may last 2 to 4 weeks .

Here are some tips for managing these negative feelings:

  • Remind yourself that these feelings are temporary.
  • Engage in a physical activity, such as taking a walk.
  • Reduce caffeine by limiting or avoiding coffee, soda, and tea.
  • Try meditation or other relaxation techniques, such as getting a massage, soaking in a hot bath, or breathing deeply through your nose and out through your mouth for 10 breaths.
  • Ask your doctor about nicotine replacement products or other medications.

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Managing Stress When Quitting Nicotine

Here are 10 tips and strategies to help you cope with stress when you quit smoking.

Be patient with yourself and allow your recovery to unfold as it will. Release from nicotine addiction comes gradually. It happens as you erase old associations and habits one by one, replacing them with new, healthier choices.

In time, you’ll likely find that stress is more easily managed smoke-free than it ever was when you were smoking.

Take Care Of Yourself

Unhealthy behaviors often occur together. If you dont take proper care of yourself by getting enough sleep, eating right, and exercising regularly, youre more likely want to smoke again. Instead, be sure to put extra emphasis on taking care of yourself physically and mentally during stressful times. When youre well-rested, active, and fueled with healthy foods, youll be less likely to let unhealthy habits flare up.

Stress is a normal part of life. Youre in control of how you deal with it. Smoking is a false security blanket for your body that provides little comfort in reality. The more aware you are of your smoking triggers, the less youll smoke and the fewer hurdles youll have when quitting.

Last medically reviewed on February 24, 2016

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  • American Heart Association recommendations for physical activity in adults.

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Talk To Someone You Trust

If youre used to smoking with others, theres no need to have an all-or-nothing attitude when it comes to creating healthier habits. Keep whats good about your time together, such as the talking, and discard the smoking. Talking to a trusted friend about whats bothering you can be helpful and can help you put stressful situations into a proper perspective.

Alternative Ways To Manage Stress

How to Beat Stress While Quitting Smoking

Once you have quit smoking, you may no longer reach for a cigarette when you encounter stress. It is necessary to develop new coping strategies to handle everyday stressors as they develop. An effective stress reliever is physical activity. Many former smokers find they enjoy working out at a gym or taking walks. They not only have an alternate stress reliever, they also benefit from the added physical activity resulting in a healthier body. Finding time to relax is also an important part of stress management when quitting smoking. Make time to practice your relaxation and deep breathing techniques, mediate or read. You will feel the stress of the day melt away.

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How Can I Resist The Urge To Smoke When Im Feeling Bored

When you quit smoking, you may miss the increased excitement and good feeling that nicotine gave you. This may be particularly true when you are feeling bored.

Here are some tips:

  • Plan more activities than you have time for.
  • Make a list of things to do when confronted with free time.
  • Move! Do not stay in the same place too long.
  • If you feel very bored when waiting for something or someone , distract yourself with a book, magazine, or crossword puzzle.
  • Look at and listen to what is going on around you.
  • Carry something to keep your hands busy.
  • Listen to a favorite song.
  • Go outdoors, if you can, but not to places you associate with smoking.

Reduce Your Stress As Much As Possible

Reducing stress reduces hyperstimulation. As stress diminishes, the easier it is to support yourself after you quit as your body adjusts away from the physical addiction to nicotine.

Finding healthy ways of reducing stress can more than make up for the little bit of relaxation you got from smoking. Developing healthy stress management practices can also sustain you throughout your life and without the negative side effects of nicotine addiction.

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What Is Nicotine Withdrawal

Nicotine creates a chemical dependency so that the body develops a need for a certain level of nicotine at all times. Unless that level is maintained — by smoking or chewing tobacco — your body will begin to go through withdrawal. So, when you stop, your body goes through a very uncomfortable, but short-lived withdrawal process. This is why nicotine replacement is helpful for people trying to quit cigarettes — it reduces these unpleasant feelings.

Going through nicotine withdrawal can be tough. Because smoking affects so many parts of your body, nicotine withdrawal involves physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral symptoms, including irritability, insomnia, anxiety, and increased appetite.

Youâll have intense cravings for a cigarette. Youâll be angry, irritable, and restless. Youâll have headaches and a cough. Youâll be tired but wonât be able to sleep.

But hang in there! Most withdrawal symptoms peak 48 hours after you quit and subside over the next 3 to 4 weeks.

When it ends, the nicotine will be out of your system. Youâll be healthier than youâve been in a long time.

Before you quit, itâs wise to have a plan for getting through these withdrawals. Youâll have an easier time if youâre mentally prepared and have some strategies for how to deal with your symptoms.

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