Smoking a cigarette gives you an immediate sense of relief and relaxation, as the chemicals in nicotine interact with your brain.
You then associate this improvement in your mood with smoking and start to crave nicotine as a way to reduce your anxiety.
If you don’t have a cigarette and your nicotine levels fall, your body gets withdrawal symptoms and you start to feel more and more anxious.
When you give in and smoke, the relief in anxiety is only short-lived and quickly wears off, leaving you feeling anxious once again.
Make a stop smoking plan
By giving yourself time to prepare, you can move forward with your stop smoking journey with confidence. If you would like help to create a free, personalised quit plan, including getting the latest advice on the best tools and resources for you, or for information on your local stop smoking services call the Stop Smoking London helpline today on 0300 123 1044.
Talk to your family or a friend
Talk to your family or a friend. Pay attention to how you feel and be compassionate with these feelings. It may help you to speak about your feelings and your plans to stop smoking with your friends and family. At this time you can do this using a phone or video calls.
Get a good nights sleep
Sleep disturbances are a common side effect of nicotine withdrawal. Lack of sleep can make everything, including quitting smoking, feel so much harder. So, it’s particularly important to get on top of any sleep problems you may encounter quickly. For ideas to help you to get a good night’s sleep as you quit smoking visit the Good Thinking website.
Exercising for 30 minutes a day is a great self-care practice to get endorphins flowing and to boost energy. As you quit smoking, you may notice that as your lungs heal you have less coughing and shortness of breath, making it easier to exercise. Download the NHS Couch to 5k to get you started.
A great way to feel calmer as you stop smoking is to use established guided meditation and visualisation techniques. This can not only make you feel relaxed but may help you to make other healthy lifestyle choices.
Focus on the moment
When you start to feel anxious, don’t reach for a cigarette. Download the My Possible Self app that is clinically proven to improve the mental health and wellbeing of people living with stress, anxiety and low mood.
Don’t do it alone, ask for help
Stress affects everyone and can be difficult to deal with. If you feel yourself struggling with your feelings the good thinking website has some great tips, or contact your GP. You can also get expert advice from a number of specialist helplines. For help at any stage of your stop smoking journey contact your local stop smoking service.
Stimulants like caffeine keep you awake, alert and tense. This can make you more jittery and more anxious, so cut back on your coffee, tea and energy drinks or use caffeine free products instead.
Cut back on alcohol
Drinking alcohol regularly can heighten your feelings of anxiety. It’s best to give up alcohol completely for a few weeks when you first stop smoking if this isn't possible try and limit your intake of alcoholic drinks.
You could try stretching exercises like yoga. As well as stimulating your brain, this will help with breathing and relaxation techniques for whenever you feel anxious. Find out more about this popular YouTube channel offering a range of guided yoga and meditation practices.
There is lots of support to help you quit smoking from health advisers, they are ready with tips, information and encouragement.
NRT are products that provide you with a low level of nicotine and so can help you fight nicotine cravings as you quit.
Digital Mobile Apps
Apps on your phone are a great way to help you quit smoking, they can help you with tips, advise and encouragement when you need them most.