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. Other people smoke when they need time out, want to relax or when they’re bored – these are all linked to your 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. Or 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, and some take up knitting or 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, fishing trip, full body massage or something that you’ve wanted to do for a while but put off.

Make some “me time”

Set aside time during the day to give yourself a break from whatever is stressing you out. And if you no longer smoke you will have a lot more time for yourself.

Practise deep breathing, mindfulness and muscle relaxation

These techniques can help you calm down and feel happier.

Spend time with positive people

It’s helpful to be around people who are supportive of you quitting smoking.

Eat healthier

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 much easier to quit when they stop drinking alcohol. 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, and Medicare rebates are available.