Skip to content

    Smoking Cessation Health Center

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    10 Ways to Reduce Stress While You Quit Smoking

    By
    WebMD Feature
    Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

    Many smokers think that lighting up helps them relax. They’re fooling themselves, experts say.

    Nicotine withdrawal makes people feel jittery and anxious, which smokers often confuse with feeling stressed,” says Steven Schroeder, MD, director of the Smoking Cessation Leadership Center at the University of California, San Francisco. “Lighting up makes them feel better, not because that cigarette eases stress but because it’s delivering the next dose of nicotine.”

    Recommended Related to Smoking Cessation

    Quitting Time: How to Stop Smoking for Good

    Congratulations! You've decided to quit smoking. But how? The answer depends on why you smoke. "Men smoke more for the effect of the nicotine. Women smoke more to regulate mood and stress," says Kelly P. Cosgrove, PhD. She's an associate professor of psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine. So, a good quitting strategy for women includes more than nicotine replacement. That's because the female brain responds to nicotine differently than the male brain. Nicotine-replacement therapy (NRT) -- patches,...

    Read the Quitting Time: How to Stop Smoking for Good article > >

    Breaking free of nicotine addictioncan be stressful, of course. Stress is one of the leading reasons why people falter in their efforts to quit. “Stress releases a brain chemical called epinephrine, which interferes with the ability to focus and think clearly,” says Bruce S. Rabin, MD, PhD, medical director of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Healthy Lifestyle Program and an expert on stress. “When you’re trying to quit smoking, that can make it hard to stay focused on the goal.”

    Fortunately, a wide range of strategies can help you get through the tough times without being overwhelmed by stress. Here are 10 ways to reduce stress while you quit smoking.

    1. Cut yourself plenty of slack.

    Don’t be hard on yourself while you’re quitting. Kicking the habit is tough enough. Recognize in advance that you’ll experience stress. Understand that your temper may be short and that you may feel discouraged and even depressed. Try not to be critical of yourself or others. Remember: quitting is your most important goal. Try to have an optimistic, “can-do” attitude. “Optimism turns out to be one of the most important determinants of success,” says Rabin. “If people are convinced they can do it, they stand a much better chance of succeeding. If you’ve tried and failed before, don’t let that discourage you. Most smokers have to try several times before they succeed.

    2. Resolve short-term problems in advance.

    If you can easily resolve any nagging short-term stresses, do it before you quit. Fix that leaky faucet. Clean up the clutter that’s been bugging you. Clear away as many stressful issues as possible.

    1 | 2 | 3

    Today on WebMD

    hands breaking a cigarette
    Is quitting cold turkey an effective method?
    ashtray
    14 tips to get you through the first hard days.
     
    smoking man
    Surprising impacts of tobacco on the body.
    cigarette smoke
    What happens when you kick the habit?
     

    Filtered cigarettes
    ARTICLE
    an array of e cigarettes
    ARTICLE
     
    human heart
    ARTICLE
    Woman experiencing withdrawal symptoms
    ARTICLE
     

    man smoking cigarette
    ARTICLE
    no smoking sign
    VIDEO
     
    Woman ashing cigarette in ashtray
    ARTICLE
    chain watch
    ARTICLE