Think about Your emotions Many smokers say that smoking helps them deal with stress – they have a cigarette to relax. But smoking actually causes stress. Yes, you heard that right. 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. Some people smoke when they need time out, want to relax or when they’re bored – these are all linked to emotions. 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. What are they? Glad you asked…. 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. 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. Some garden, take up knitting or do 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, go on a fishing trip, have a full body massage or do something that you’ve wanted to do for a while but have put off doing. Make some “me time” Set aside time during the day to give yourself a break from whatever is stressing you out. 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 relax and feel calmer and 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 We know you’re quitting smoking – not becoming a monk! But lots of people find it easier to quit if they stop drinking, or stay away from, alcohol for awhile. 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) or phone Quitline 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. Medicare rebates are available. Think you’re ready to quit?