Here’s something to think about.
Many smokers say that smoking helps them deal with stress – they have a cigarette to relax. But smoking actually causes stress. Smoking doesn’t stop stress, it creates it.
If you believe smoking calms you, think again
Nicotine increases your breathing and heart rate as well as your blood pressure. You think it relaxes you because the nicotine also releases feel-good chemicals in your brain, which adds to your addiction. Other people smoke when they need time out, want to relax or when they’re bored – these are all linked to your emotions.
- Find out more about smoking and stress.
Breaking the stress cycle
Many smokers associate activities like relaxing, socialising, or having a drink with the cigarette itself. But there are lots of ways to relax without cigarettes.
Think about something you enjoy
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.
Spend time on your interests and hobbies
What relaxes you? Do you have a hobby or two that you could use to replace the cigarettes? Some people play Sudoku or games on their phone to keep their hands busy, and some take up knitting or mindful colouring in.
Try something new
Learn a new language, take up a new sport or pastime, join a club or interest group. Many people enjoy relaxing activities like yoga.
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.
Make some “me time”
Set aside time during the day to give yourself a break from whatever is stressing you out. And if you no longer smoke you will have a lot more time for yourself.
Practice deep breathing, mindfulness and muscle relaxation
These techniques can help you calm down and feel happier.
Spend time with positive people
It’s helpful to be around people who are supportive of you quitting smoking.
Eat healthy foods
Eat healthy snacks – there are heaps of great options out there. They are good for you, and help you feel great too.
Reduce or go off alcohol and caffeine for a while
Many people find it much easier to quit when they stop drinking alcohol because often the two activities go hand in hand.
When you’re quitting, caffeine is absorbed more quickly and can make you feel nervous or cranky. So, reduce caffeine intake by half or try another drink instead.
Set up an out-of-the-blue stress plan
You might have things under control – until disaster strikes. Ask a good friend if you can call them (day or night) when you are struggling or phone Quitline – 13 78 48 – for support.
If you think you need more help to de-stress, talk to your doctor. They can refer you to a psychologist to learn new ways to manage stress, and Medicare rebates are available if you are referred by your GP with a mental health treatment plan.
- Think you’re ready to quit? Make a plan.