Learn to cope with stress and improve your chances of quitting.

Stress can be caused by major life events or daily hassles that add up over time. Even happy events, like holidays with family or a pregnancy, can be stressful. The causes of stress are different for each person. Knowing your specific stressors is an important step in finding ways to deal with them. What are the stresses in your life?

The Stress-Smoking Link

Stress is one of the main triggers of smoking relapse.  Even though they know smoking kills and secondhand smoke is toxic, some smokers find it hard to give up cigarettes as a way to manage stress.

Stress is part of life‚ so a key aspect of quitting for many people is finding ways to manage stress and take care of themselves without smoking. Spend some time reflecting and looking for ways to deal with the busy days that are so often a part of life. The benefits of quitting smoking are well worth it.

Dealing With Stress and Cravings

Here are some tips that may help reduce the stress in your life. Try them out, and come up with your own ideas. If something works for you‚ great! If not‚ no big deal. Simply try another one. Keep looking for ways to be happy and healthy while you stop smoking.

  • Take a break. Even if it is just for a few minutes‚ take a breather from a stressful situation. This might mean doing something that you find relaxing, like playing a game or talking with a friend. It could also mean stepping away from the situation for a while by taking a walk or going to get a snack.
  • Breathe deeply. Take a few slow‚ deep breaths. For an extra benefit‚ breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. You will feel your body relax.
  • Exercise. When your body is active‚ it sends out natural chemicals that improve your mood and reduce your stress. Walking is one of the easiest exercises for most people. Even a short walk every day will help you manage stress, curb nicotine cravings and improve your health.
  • Visualize. Close your eyes and imagine you are in a place where you feel safe‚ comfortable‚ and relaxed. It can be a real place or one you make up. Picture it as clearly as you can. Let yourself enjoy being there for a few minutes.
  • Scan for tension. Our bodies hold on to stress and tension. Scan through your body and look for places where you are tight. These are areas you should target for stress relief. Some simple things you can do to reduce stress include stretching‚ exercise‚ or getting a massage. Even a few minutes of rubbing your shoulders‚ neck‚ and head can release lots of tension.
  • Talk to someone. Talking with a friend or family member about your life is a great way to help manage stress.
  • Focus on the here and now. A lot of people get stressed out thinking about the future. Try focusing just on what is happening now‚ not on what you might have to deal with in the future.
  • Take care of yourself. Especially right after quitting ‚ you should make extra efforts to take care of yourself. This includes basic things like:
    • Eating a balanced diet
    • Drinking lots of water
    • Getting enough sleep
  • Cut out caffeine. Caffeine helps keep you awake when you are tired‚ but it also can make you feel tense‚ jittery‚ worried‚ and stressed. If you are feeling stressed‚ drinking caffeinated coffee‚ tea‚ or soda can make it worse. This is especially true when you are quitting smoking. Cutting back or even eliminating caffeine can help reduce your stress.
  • Face the problem. Stop and think about what makes you stressed. Is there something you could be doing to fix the problem? It can be helpful to talk with others about what is happening and see if there are ways to make it better.

* From smokefree.gov