Smoking, Anxiety
and you

Some people think that smoking helps to relieve anxiety. But smoking doesn’t relieve these feelings. It actually increases them. You might get an initial sense of relief from the nicotine, but you’ll get stuck in a circle of cravings and withdrawal symptoms.

Do you find yourself smoking in the following situations?

At Work

If you’re finding a particular task at work difficult or your job is making you anxious, you’re much more likely to smoke during your breaks.

When Dating

You might find you feel particularly anxious if you’re going out on a date and meeting new people, causing you to reach for the cigarettes before, during or after.

Big Events

Anxiety can be brought on by nerves, especially if you’re worried about an important event like an exam. You may find that you want to smoke more before these events.

Before Public Performances

Speaking to a crowd, taking part in sporting events or other activities can increase your feelings of anxiety.

When Meeting People

You might feel anxious about meeting and talking to new people.

When Thinking About Money

When you’re anxious about finance and debt, you probably find you smoke more often to try and relieve some of that worry, despite the cost of cigarettes.

Help someone you care about quit today

The Anxiety Circle

Smoking doesn’t relieve your anxiety. It can actually increase it. You might get an initial sense of relief from the nicotine, but you’ll get stuck in a circle of cravings and withdrawal symptoms.

  1. Smoking a cigarette gives you an immediate sense of relief and relaxation, as the chemicals in nicotine interact with your brain.

  2. You then associate this improvement in your mood with smoking and start to crave nicotine as a way to reduce your anxiety.

  3. 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.

  4. When you give in and smoke, the relief in anxiety is only short-lived and quickly wears off, leaving you feeling anxious once again.

Tips to help you quit smoking and to stay calm in the process

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.

Exercise

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.

Use meditation

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.

Reduce caffeine

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.

Try yoga

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.


Help someone you care about quit today

Spend your money on something for you!

It doesn’t matter how long you've been smoking for or how many cigarettes you smoke a day, stop smoking now and you will see immediate health benefits. But the benefits don’t just end there - the money you save can be spent on you! How much extra money will you have when you quit for good?

In one week you could save

£38

That's new makeup or skincare product

or

For you gamers the latest game

In one month you could save

£154

That’s a fantastic dinner for two

or

New workout clothes

In six months you could save

£924

That's a week in the sun

or

A shopping spree

In one year you could save

£1,848

Treat yourself to that designer watch or jewellery

or

Start saving for something really special

In one week you could save

£70

That's a pair of designer shoes

or

A relaxing spa treatment

In one month you could save

£300

That’s a weekend in Europe, incl. flights

or

A new piece of tech

In six months you could save

£1,800

That’s a luxury holiday

or

A new luxury bed

In one year you could save

£3,650

That’s the deposit for a new car

or

A brand new kitchen

In one week you could save

£105

That’s your weekly food shop

or

An exciting experience day

In one month you could save

£450

That’s a night away in a luxury hotel

or

A new holiday wardrobe

In six months you could save

£2,700

That’s a trip to Orlando for a family of 4

or

Fly to NYC and spend a Few days in the Big Apple

In one year you could save

£5,475

That’s an all-inclusive, month-long Caribbean cruise

or

A new and approved car

There are many ways to stop smoking, find the one that works for you

You are more likely to quit smoking by mixing and matching personal support like motivational support from a health advisor with NRT, a prescription medication or e-cigarettes. What would work best for you?

Combining Therapies

You don’t have to rely on just one method to quit. You are more likely to quit smoking by mixing and matching personal support like motivational support from a health advisor with NRT or a prescription medication and e-cigarettes.

What would work best for you?

Support

There is lots of support to help you quit smoking from health advisers, they are ready with tips, information and encouragement.

NRT

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.

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