Stress management when quitting smoking is a major key to being smoke free for life.
Smoking to Cope With Stress - A Dangerous Fallacy
Many smokers light up at the first sign of a stressful situation. They use their smoking as a form of stress relief. Although they think that it is helping them to cope with stress what they do not realize is that the nicotine is a mood altering drug, called a psychoactive. It is only masking the effects of the stress, such as feelings of anger, anxiety or frustration making them seem less severe. In reality, even though the smoker feels less stressed and calmer, smoking puts more stress on the body. The smoker's body still reacts to the stressful situation in the following ways.
- The heart pumps harder than the heart rate increases
- Blood pressure rises
- Blood vessels constrict
- Muscles tense
- Less oxygen flows to the body and brain
Learn the Signs and Symptoms of Stress
In order to deal with stress while you are quitting smoking, you need to know the signs and symptoms of stress. Once you are aware of them, it is easier use alternative stress management techniques when a stressful situation occurs. The most typical physical stress reactions include:
- Rapid heartbeat
- Tightened muscles
- Rapid breathing
- Rising blood pressure
- Memory loss
- Hands feeling clammy
- Clenching your jaw
- Grinding your teeth
- Upset stomach
The most common emotional symptoms of stress include:
- An uneasy feeling
- Unreasonable fear
- Mood swings
- Feeling agitated
- Being irritable
- Feeling restless
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.
Alternative Ways to Manage Stress
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.
Online Resources for Stress Management
Many useful tools are available on the Internet to help smokers deal with the stress of quitting smoking. One such website, Every Day Health offers instructions for stress management techniques including deep breathing, visual imagery and muscle relaxation. Two websites with many helpful stress management tips to help smokers cope with quitting smoking are offered from George Mason University and E Max Health. Additional online resources include:
- The Tobacco News and Information website offers quit smoking tips, stress management techniques and many additional links to more resources.
- Why Quit offers a vast array of information on quitting smoking including motivational resources, stress management information, a stop smoking benefits timetable and much more.
- Way 2 Quit explains how to beat nicotine addiction and includes useful tips to help you quit smoking.
Learning new ways to deal with the stress you encounter in your life is an essential aspect of long term success in quitting smoking.