How Smoking can Make you Stressed

Healthy Living

Tammy George

One of the main reasons people give for smoking is to calm their nerves. What they don’t realise is stress levels are higher in smokers than they are non-smokers. By quitting smoking, they can reduce the overall stress in their daily life.   

What causes the stress?

Nicotine. The time between cigarettes is when the body goes into nicotine withdrawals. Smokers feel tense and irritable between cigarettes and so have another to relieve the symptoms. Nicotine also causes a spike in heart rate and blood pressure. A cigarette also triggers a hit of the brain reward chemical dopamine which has a calming effect. The dopamine disappears soon after the cigarette is finished.

These up and down mood and heart rate changes are a large part of the stress smokers feel. The vicious cycle only stops by quitting. Once the nicotine withdrawals have finished, the depressed, stressed feelings can also disappear.

With the drop in smoker numbers, the community is demanding more areas be designated non-smoking. Smokers can feel anxious about their limited public places to smoke and feelings of being ostracised. Partners, parents, children and friends of smokers often encourage them to quit which can cause more guilt and anxiety for smokers.

How to Feel Less Stressed

Modern life is stressful. Stress is a normal part of life however it can be controlled in far less harmful ways than smoking. Smokers often need the reassurance that they can replace nicotine with something else. By quitting you can permanently reduce the stress by doing one of the following:

Exercise – One of the best ways to reduce stress in your life is to do some regular exercise. Take a quick walk around the block if you feel stressed at work or home.

Hobby – Keep yourself busy with a new interest so your hands aren’t left idle. Find something new you can enjoy if you don’t already have a hobby.

Meditate – Learn techniques to get through a stressful moment that you previously overcame with a cigarette.

Get Help with Quitting

Not many people can quit smoking on their own. If you are feeling stressed while you are quitting, don’t give in to the temptation, call the Quitline on 13 7848 or talk to a friend.

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Tammy George

Please note: Tammy's blog is general advice only. For further information on this topic please consult your healthcare professional.

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