Think smoking helps stress?

The myth about smoking and stress

Think smoking helps stress?

Are you feeling stressed and think picking up a cigarette will help? Although smoking temporarily relieves the stress of nicotine withdrawal symptoms, it can actually increase your level of stress hormones in the longer term.

This is because:

  • nicotine increases your heart rate and blood pressure
  • when you haven’t had a smoke for a while, the lack of nicotine in your system can give you withdrawal symptoms like cravings
  • when you do have a smoke, the nicotine relieves the cravings briefly, but then the cycle begins again as your heart rate and blood pressure increase.

Within six months of quitting smoking, most people say their mood is better and they feel less stressed than when they smoked.

Quitting smoking is the best way to break the cycle of smoking and stress

Did you know when you stop smoking you are more likely to:

  • feel less stressed and have a more positive outlook
  • have more cash in your pocket.

In the time it takes to smoke a cigarette, you could do something else that is more effective and beneficial.

Breathe. Think.

If you have learned to deal with stress by smoking, here are some ideas you can practice.

  • Breathe slowly; deep breaths in through your nose and out through the mouth. You will feel your body start to relax. Your blood pressure will reduce too.
  • Think about your stress for a minute. Where do you feel the tension in your body? Find ways to reduce that tension.
  • During exercise, your body produces natural chemicals that help your mood and reduce your stress. A short walk may be all it takes, and it’s free.

Ways to manage stress without smoking

Step 1 – Identify and list stressful situations that make you want to smoke, such as:

  • stuck in traffic
  • stressed about work
  • worried about money
  • upset with someone
  • your kids misbehaving.

Being aware of these feelings before they appear is a really important part of managing stress.

Step 2 – Think of how you could handle these situations without a cigarette:

  1. If you are at home – watch a film, start a TV series, read a magazine or do some exercise.
  2. If you are at work – go for a walk, make a snack or cup of tea. Anything you can do to remove yourself from the situation that’s making you want to smoke is helpful.
  3. If you are in traffic – play some music – something different to what you usually listen to – or have a mint ready to pop into your mouth.

Want a distraction?

Go to https://www.quit.org.au/tools/distract-me/ for four types of distraction:

  • random five minute video
  • give me a challenge
  • suggest an activity
  • listen to a podcast.

Download theMy QuitBuddy app for community support, calculators and distractions as well as other help or phone Quitline on 13 7848 for more distraction tips.