Many turn to cigarettes as a coping mechanism for handling stress, and other emotional-related issues. Studies show that cigarette use exacerbates these conditions, making them worse over time.
Many people avoid quitting tobacco because they fear what the withdrawal symptoms may do to their emotional state. Others have deep seated emotional traumas which tobacco helps to seemingly cover up. In either case, tobacco use is not a real solution for stress, anxiety, or lingering feelings of depression or mourning. Tobacco is a crutch that will only prevent you from obtaining the help you really need, whether you’re just dealing with day to day stresses or more severe issues.
Not only does use of tobacco products not solve your problems, but it has been shown in recent studies to cause more stress than it alleviates. This is compounded by the threat of very real, and often life threatening, health conditions caused by tobacco products.
Even if you’ve relied on cigarettes to alleviate stress for many years, you can find healthier ways to deal with your emotions and finally kick the habit.
Recognize When you Feel the Urge to Smoke
Many smokers find that they have specific triggers that cause them to reach for a smoke. These may be simple day to day stresses, such as smoking on the way home from work. Or, some may be more tempted to smoke during times of upheaval, such as during periods of financial strain or divorce. Others smoke as a force of habit, and find themselves stressed simply because they haven’t had a cigarette in a while.
The first step in learning to cope without tobacco is to recognize when you crave cigarettes most. This will allow you to be prepared with alternative coping techniques when you need them. For instance, if you’re someone who smokes on the way home from work, make sure you have gum, or another distraction to keep you occupied during this time. You might also use nicotine replacement products to help you deal with withdrawal symptoms until you are better accustomed to life without tobacco.
Whether you have a professional counselor, or friends and family members, it is important that you enlist the help of someone who can hold you accountable while also lending a sympathetic ear. This will help you get through smoking withdrawal-related symptoms, as well as emotional issues that may make you want to smoke. If possible, find someone who is willing to be available to you at any time. That means if you find yourself anxious, you can call this person and talk things through before you turn to cigarettes.
Remind Yourself of Your Reasons for Quitting
Knowing why you want to give up cigarettes, and reminding yourself of those reasons, will help you stay on track. Look at the big picture. Whatever you are dealing with, smoking won’t help you solve it. Not only that, but smoking will cause more problems than it fixes in the long run. Eventually, you may end up with a more serious problem than what you are currently facing, such as a life-threatening, smoking related illness. Smoking has also been shown to increase one’s risk for depression, stress, and other mood related issues, according to the Mental Health Foundation.
Remember That you are Normal
The mood swings, withdrawal cravings, and irritability you may be feeling are all normal parts of quitting. While they may be uncomfortable, they can actually be a good sign. They signal the fact that your brain is weaning itself off of nicotine, and your addiction is waning. Your lungs and cardiovascular system is also healing itself internally, even though you can’t feel it from the outside.
What you are experiencing is common, and uncomfortable sensations will subside with time. If you can focus on the big picture, rather than your temporary discomfort, you may feel better about what you are going through during the quitting process.
Remember that quitting isn’t only a one-time event. The choice to abstain from smoking is one you make every day, and it is one you can continue to make with the right support and plan.