Saturday, September 16, 2023

How To Quit Smoking During Stressful Times

Tips To Deal With Cravings In The First Few Weeks

Wellness 101 – How to Quit Smoking

Many of the changes you feel when you first quit smoking don’t feel good. Nicotine withdrawal can make you feel grouchy, hungry, and nervous. You may have trouble sleeping or concentrating. These symptoms can last for a few days to several weeks. But they do go away, especially if you take medicine. You may struggle with changing your smoking habits and rituals. This is a lot to deal with, but keep at it. You will feel better.

The following tips may help you in the first few weeks:

Arm Yourself With Knowledge

Nicotine cravings can feel stressful. Seek out reliable information on nicotine withdrawal and how best to handle your triggers and cravings when they crop up. There are many online forums, programs, and resources that may be able to help as well.

It’s also always a good idea to speak to a healthcare provider about all the tools available to help you succeed. They may recommend a smoking cessation product or medication to help you cope with the effects of withdrawal, such as nicotine replacement therapy .

What Can I Do About Anger Frustration And Irritability After I Quit

After you quit smoking or using other tobacco products, 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 an enjoyable 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.
  • Try nicotine replacement products or ask your doctor about other medications.

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Smokers With Mental Health Problems

People with mental health problems, including anxiety, depression or schizophrenia:

  • are much more likely to smoke than the general population
  • tend to smoke more heavily
  • die on average 10 to 20 years earlier than those who don’t experience mental health problems smoking plays a major role in this difference in life expectancy
  • need higher doses of some antipsychotic medicines and antidepressants because smoking interferes with the way these medicines work

Why It’s Hard To Quit

The health benefits of quitting smoking

Nicotine is a highly addictive substance that, when inhaled, releases dopamine in the brain within seconds, creating a pleasurable sensation. Quitting smoking is difficult because it involves both the physical addiction to nicotine and psychological dependence as well. The action of smoking becomes intertwined in daily life and a go-to in times of stress.

Smokers tend to associate tobacco with daily rituals, so youre often forced to overhaul your daily habits when you quit. This is not an impossible task, but it takes focus, time, and effort. Instead of waking up to a cup of coffee alongside that usual morning cigarette, youll need to adapt to new routines and counter old habits with new and healthier ones.

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Being Around People Who Smoke

This is a tricky situation. Ask friends and family who smoke to help you by not smoking around you or offering you cigarettes. Practise saying No thanks – I dont smoke each day in front of the mirror for times when someone does offer you one. Smile and tell people NOPE !.

If youre around people who are smoking, move away until you feel in control. Look for people who arent smoking.

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.

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What Can I Do About Depression After I Quit

It is common to feel sad for a period of time soon after you quit smoking or using other tobacco products. If mild depression occurs, it will usually begin within the first day, continue for a couple of weeks, and go away within a month.

People who have a history of depression often have more-severe withdrawal symptoms, including more-severe depression. Some studies have found that many people with a history of major depression will have a new major depressive episode after quitting . However, in those with no history of depression, major depression after quitting is rare.

Many former smokers and people who are quitting have a strong urge to smoke when they feel depressed. Here are some tips for managing feelings of depression:

  • Get together with a friend.
  • Identify your specific feelings at the time that you seem depressed. Are you actually feeling tired, lonely, bored, or hungry? Focus on and address these specific needs.
  • Participate in physical activities that you find enjoyable. This will help to improve your mood, decrease your fatigue, and reduce your depression.
  • Breathe deeply.
  • Make a list of things that are upsetting to you and write down solutions for them.
  • Ask your doctor about prescription medications that may help you with depression. Studies show that bupropion and nortriptyline can help people with a past history of depression who try to quit smoking. Nicotine replacement products may also help .

Questions To Ask Yourself

Quitting smoking Coping with stress and anxiety when quitting

Answering the following questions helps you identify what type of smoker you are and the best strategies and tips to overcome your addiction.

  • How much do you smoke every day?
  • When do you smoke?
  • Do you often smoke after meals?
  • Do you smoke more when youre alone or in social situations?
  • Do specific settings make you want to smoke?
  • How often do you smoke as a result of stress or depression?
  • How does boredom factor into your smoking habits?
  • Do you associate smoking with drinking or other addictive behaviors?
  • Would you consider talking with a therapist or counselor about your smoking?
  • Would you consider treatment options like acupuncture or hypnosis?
  • Do you enjoy physical activities like walking, jogging, or biking?
  • Do you fear gaining weight if you stop smoking?

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Quit Smoking Today With Our Help:

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Some situations make you want to smoke. Its important to identify these high-risk situations so you know how to cope with them. Once youve dealt with a high-risk situation a few times, youll become more confident and less likely to start smoking again.

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.

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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.

Reduce Demands On Your Time And Energy

Health Effects Of Quitting Smoking Timeline

Quitting smoking can be harder if you have a lot of work or family demands.

  • Try to set your quit date for a time when there are fewer work and family demands.
  • Tell your spouse, family, and friends to ask less of you during the first days and weeks that you quit.
  • Do something fun with the money you save from not buying cigarettes.
  • Be aware that being tired from activity, lack of sleep, or your emotions can make it harder not to smoke.

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Read How Others Manage

Many people try to quit smoking many times before they can stop for good.

Research shows that you’ll be more successful if you get help. Here’s how a few people finally managed to quit.


It took Michael seven tries to quit smoking.

“It’s awful. My craving for cigarettes was very, very strong,” he says. “You just become so frustrated. You feel all this pent-up energy and don’t know how to relieve it.

“And you could just go to the corner store and buy a pack and end the misery. … That’s what I would end up doing.”

He finally managed to quit by using nicotine patches. He’s been smoke-free for nearly 4 years.


Eric had his first cigarette when he was 12. By age 23, he was tearing through a pack and a half a day.

He tried quitting “cold turkey.” He tried nicotine gum. Neither worked for him. So he tried nicotine patches.

The patches made him feel sick for a few days. The first week without cigarettes felt like torture, because his cravings were so strong. But when he started using gum along with the patch, the cravings became bearable. In 5 weeks, he had managed to stop smoking.

Help Is Available To Quit

To find out all your options, talk to your doctor or pharmacist about how they can help you quit, and call Quitline. Quitline is a free telephone support service. Quitline counsellors are trained to listen carefully and give you support suited to your needs. You dont have to do this alone. And willpower is not the only tool at your disposal you can buy nicotine patches, lozenges or gum and prescribed stop smoking tablets more cheaply with a script from your doctor.

Your doctor or pharmacist can advise you which stop smoking medication would suit you and how your usual medicines may need adjusting when you stop smoking.You can also go online at and create your own quit plan with easy-to-find information suited to you.

You can sign up for Quit Mail. Over 12 weeks Quit Mail will send you regular emails tracking your health and money gains, plus lots of tips to help you stay quit.

For more information see Quitting tips and Quitting methods.

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Why It Feels Like Smoking Helps Us Relax

Smoking cigarettes interferes with certain chemicals in the brain.

When smokers haven’t had a cigarette for a while, the craving for another one makes them feel irritable and anxious.

These feelings can be temporarily relieved when they light up a cigarette. So smokers associate the improved mood with smoking.

In fact, it’s the effects of smoking itself that’s likely to have caused the anxiety in the first place.

Cutting out smoking does improve mood and reduces anxiety.

Frequently Asked Questions About Medications

What Happens When You Stop Smoking?

Here are some frequently asked questions about taking medication to help quit smoking.

Which types of medications are available to help me stop smoking?

  • NRT is 1 type of quitting medication that is approved by the Food and Drug Administration . These medications replace some of the nicotine your body gets from smoking cigarettes, help manage your side effects of nicotine withdrawal, and help you slowly stop needing nicotine. NRT comes in many forms, such as:
  • Nicotine nasal spray
  • There are also medications you can take as a pill. They dont contain nicotine but can reduce your cravings to smoke and lessen side effects of nicotine withdrawal. Your doctor can give you a prescription for these medications if you need them. These medications include:
  • Are these medications safe?

    Yes. All of the available medications are safe to take and can help you quit smoking. These medications dont have the toxic chemicals that cigarettes have and, with few exceptions, are safe to use while undergoing cancer treatment.

    Can I use more than one medication at the same time?

    Yes. Its safe for you to use more than 1 medication at the same time. Using the nicotine patch with nicotine gum, lozenge, nasal spray, or inhaler is better than taking 1 form of NRT alone. You can also take non-nicotine medications, such as bupropion, with NRT to increase your chances of quitting. MSKs Tobacco Treatment Specialists can help you come up with a plan that works for you.

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    Benefits Of Quitting Smoking

    Quitting is one of the best things you will ever do for your health. It can affect your life in ways you may not even imagine.

    Benefits to your health and life from quitting smoking include:

    • Your sense of taste and smell may improve, so you may enjoy your food more.
    • Exercising to increase your fitness will become easier.
    • You will be free from the hassles of smoking, such as smelling of smoke, or always having to make sure you have enough cigarettes.
    • Your fertility levels will improve , and if youre a woman, your chances of having a healthy pregnancy and baby will also increase.
    • You will save thousands of dollars a year that you can save or spend on other things.
    • Your family and friends will also benefit because:
    • You wont put their health at risk with second-hand smoke any more
    • Your children will be less at risk from bronchitis, pneumonia, asthma, meningitis and ear infections.

    How To Deal With Stress When You Quit

    Smoking to deal with stress can feel like being stuck in a trap: you smoke because you feel stressed, that makes you more stressed, so you want to smoke even more. But there are things you can do to break the cycle and start your smoke free journey.

    • Use stop smoking products. You can use things like patches, gum and vapes so you still get the nicotine hit without the unhealthy smoke. You reduce the amount you use over time until you dont need it anymore.
    • Do more exercise. Exercise boosts your mood, tackles stress and distracts you from smoking. You do not need to run a marathon – a short walk, dancing in your living room, or a kickabout in the park all do the job.
    • Try deep breathing. Practicing deep breathing or meditation helps to reduce stress. If you smoke to get a quiet minute to yourself to stop and think, you could find this works well for you. Not sure how to do it? Here’s an NHS breathing exercise for stress.
    • Be patient and stay positive. After a few weeks you’ll notice that you feel much better – happier, healthier, and less stressed. Focus on all the positive things you get from quitting, like feeling healthier, saving money, or making yourself and your family proud.

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    Do Nicotine Replacement Products Relieve Nicotine Cravings And Withdrawal Symptoms

    Yes. Nicotine replacement products deliver measured doses of nicotine into the body, which helps to relieve the cravings and withdrawal symptoms often felt by people trying to quit tobacco use. Nicotine replacement products are effective treatments that can increase the likelihood that someone will quit successfully .

    Five forms of nicotine replacement therapy have been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration :

    Using a long-acting form of nicotine replacement therapy along with a short-acting form can be especially helpful for managing nicotine withdrawal . Nicotine replacement therapy is more effective when combined with advice or counseling from a doctor, dentist, pharmacist, or other health care provider.

    Quitting Smoking When You Have Other Health Problems

    What Happens When You Quit Smoking [With Infographic]

    If you have depression or anxiety, talk to your doctor before you quit smoking. He or she may have helpful ideas on which medicines may work best for you to quit smoking.

    Smoking can also affect the level of certain medicines in your blood. If you take medicines for a health problem, talk with your doctor before you quit smoking to see whether you should change the dose of any of your medicines.

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    If You Start Smoking Again

    If you have a cigarette, dont use it as an excuse to go back to smoking.

    Remove yourself from the situation. Go for a walk, take a deep breath or have a drink of water, and ask yourself if you really want to be smoking again. Try not to waste your energy on self-blame. Instead, treat that cigarette as a sign to revise your quitting strategy.

    If youve tried several times to give up smoking and you havent succeeded yet, dont lose hope. Its common for people to try to quit a number of times before they stop smoking for good.

    Next time you quit, spend some time thinking about what has worked for you in the past, and what challenges caused you to go back to smoking. Then make plans for what you will do this time when those temptations come up again.

    Preventing Weight Gain After You Stop Smoking

    Smoking acts as an appetite suppressant, so gaining weight is a common concern for many of us when we decide to give up cigarettes. You may even be using it as a reason not to quit. While it’s true that many smokers put on weight within six months of stopping smoking, the gain is usually smallabout five pounds on averageand that initial gain decreases over time. It’s also important to remember that carrying a few extra pounds for a few months won’t hurt your heart as much as smoking does. However, gaining weight is NOT inevitable when you stop smoking.

    Smoking dampens your sense of smell and taste, so after you quit food will often seem more appealing. You may also gain weight if you replace the oral gratification of smoking with eating unhealthy comfort foods. Therefore, it’s important to find other, healthy ways to deal with unpleasant feelings such as stress, anxiety, or boredom rather than mindless, emotional eating.

    Nurture yourself. Instead of turning to cigarettes or food when you feel stressed, anxious, or depressed, learn new ways to quickly soothe yourself. Listen to uplifting music, play with a pet, or sip a cup of hot tea, for example.

    Eat healthy, varied meals. Eat plenty of fruit, vegetables, and healthy fats. Avoid sugary food, sodas, fried, and convenience food.

    Drink lots of water. Drinking at least six to eight 8 oz. glasses will help you feel full and keep you from eating when you’re not hungry. Water will also help flush toxins from your body.

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