Many people find it difficult to stop smoking because they use smoking to relieve stress. This is, in fact, a fallacy as smoking causes a lot more stress to the body than it relieves.
How smoking seems to relieve stress
The inhalation of nicotine releases dopamine in the brain which causes feelings of pleasure and relaxation that the body continues to crave. You usually sit down or take a break outside to smoke which takes you out of the stressful situation. In addition, you breathe slowly and deeply which helps to calm you down. You’re also providing your body relief from nicotine withdrawal symptoms.
While all these activities will relieve stress to some degree, your body is under increased stress from nicotine and chemicals. These cause your heart rate and your blood to increase. Your muscles become tense. Less oxygen is available to your brain and to your whole body. You’re also not actually doing something about the stressful situation, you’re only relieving the symptoms. The stressors will still be there when you get back.
Many ex-smokers report that they realised how much calmer they were after they had stopped smoking for a while.
Alternative ways to relieve stress
- When you first intend to stop smoking, it is a good idea to fix small issues that normally cause you stress such as leaky taps, creaky doors, printers that don’t work, etc. You want to set yourself up for success.
- Do more things you enjoy. Having something fun to look forward to on a regular basis generally reduces your stress levels. Whether you take up a hobby you’ve been meaning to start for a while or do more of what you already enjoy doing. Read more, listen to your favourite music, take the dog for a walk or tinker with something technical in the spare room or garage. Or you could get outside in nature more often.
- You could try relaxation techniques. How about yoga, deep breathing exercises (without the nicotine!), mindfulness or meditation?
If you’d like to start with meditation, you can download my complimentary 3 Minute Breathing Space, simply send me an email at email@example.com and I will send you the audio file.
- Increase the time you spend with people you can talk to such as friends, family and also your pets. Having a good support system is one of the key elements in building resilience and dealing successfully with stress.
- Become more active. Any kind of exercise will help you reduce stress. Find something you enjoy so you’ll stick to it as it’s important to exercise regularly. Exercising releases chemicals in the brain that will make you feel better. You’ll also be proud of your increased fitness levels.
How the Live Well Practice can help
My name is Samantha Culshaw-Robinson and I am a clinical hypnotherapist and mindfulness practitioner. I have been successfully helping people quit smoking and relieve stress since 2010. If you have any questions about the above or would like to book a complimentary initial consultation, please get in touch. You can either email me firstname.lastname@example.org or call me on 075 222 777 22.
If you would like to book in for a session, please fill in your contact details on my consultation page.
Disclaimer: As with most practices, mindfulness may not be suitable for everyone. If you have any existing mental health conditions or past trauma, you should discuss these with your GP or mental health professional and these should also be disclosed prior to enrolling in a class.