Stress and smoking – so much myth, misinformation, and misunderstanding surrounding this issue.
So, you might be asking – how do I stop smoking and be stress free?
How do I quit cigarettes and deal with all the stress that I have in my life at the same time?
Well to help you, here are a few things to consider.
Firstly, lets look at the the facts about cigarette smoking and stress reduction.
Nicotine is a STIMULANT – Yep, that’s fact!
So what does that mean?
Well, it simply means that on a physical / biological level when you smoke, you are actually placing your body into a HIGHER state of stress.
Smoking elevates your body’s internal state of stress.
You’re elevating your heart rate as well as your blood pressure and stimulating your nervous system. – all the things that put the body into a state of stress.
So it absolutely is NOT relaxing your body and relieving stress! It’s more of a recipe for a heart attack!
So you might ask – why does it seem like smoking cigarettes seems like it’s calming me down and relaxing me?
Well, once again there are few things to consider here:
It’s all to do with habit – whenever you get stressed, you immediately reach for a cigarette.
It’s just what you always do, almost as if on automatic pilot.
As I state during the Geoff Anthony stop smoking clinic – “a habit is just a routine behaviour that we do repeatedly without even thinking!”
I can assure you that it’s certainly not the cigarette that is reducing your stress, but everything else you’re doing in and at that moment to actually have that cigarette.
Look closely at what happens.
Let’s say for example, you’re sitting at your desk at work and something has gone seriously wrong and you’re now STRESSED!
What do you then do?
- You get up, go outside the building, you find a nice quiet place to yourself, you light up a cigarette, as you inhale the 4,000 plus cigarette chemicals, by taking some nice slow deep breathes while thinking about that situation and how you’re going to deal with it.
You’ve basically taken a break to have a little ‘time away’.
- Then you go back inside and psychologically you’ve DE-stressed, but physiologically, you’re actually in a higher state of stress than before you went out the door to have that cigarette!
- What you’ll find is that if you start to get into the new habit of doing the exact same thing, but leaving out the cigarette – you’ll find that you’ll become truly relaxed without cigarette poison.
Take a break, go outside, take some deep breathes, have a think then go back inside. You’ll find that you’ll be mentally AND physically relaxed.
By the way, deep breathing is CRUCIAL for stress reduction.
It reduces your heart rate as you give your heart more oxygen and by sending more oxygen to your brain, you naturally feel calmer.
This is exactly why all relaxation techniques and meditation have such a strong emphasis on breathing.
If you can control your breathing, you can control your internal stress levels.
If you take some slow deep breathes during any kind of stressful situation, you’re body will instantly react in a calming, relaxing way.
One of the main jobs of your heart is to pump oxygen around your body.
So the more oxygen you give it, the more it slows down because the less it needs to work. The more oxygen you send to your brain the more relaxed you feel.
If you were to take 10 – 20 slow deep breathes right now, you’d instantly feel the positive difference in your body. Go ahead and try it for yourself.
The funny thing about the flip side of this stress and smoking myth is, that people will often say that they also smoke when they are relaxing, maybe on a holiday, not stressed at all.
Hm… does something seem a little incongruent here to you about this?
The simple point I’m making here is that this nonsense of smoking cigarette poison to relax and relieve stress is simply illusory. It’s a total myth!
Lastly, I just want to leave you with some simple points to think about when it comes to stress and coping with it better.
Some simple points to think about regarding stress.
- Being stressed is often because you are experiencing something that you believe should NOT be happening based on your perspective.
If you’re able to change your perspective, you can experience a better way of coping.
- You will never be able to control what people say or do and sometimes unexpected things are going to happen in your life. Welcome to planet earth!
Look to control the ONE AND ONLY thing you can control in a stressful situation – your reaction to it.
You always have the ability to choose what meaning you are going to attach to that particular thing, person or situation.
- Being stressed about something that isn’t going the way that you want it to, is often a sign of not being flexible or adaptable.
Practice adopting a more ‘go with the flow’ type of attitude in all stressful moments.
- When faced with stress, distract yourself with some small physical task or action.
Do any small task to get your body doing something different. – walk away, make a call, check your email, take a walk outside, take a few relaxing deep breathes – as I say, “smoke fresh oxygen”.
Stress and smoking – I trust you can see the truth of the matter!
To your health and ‘smoke-free’ life.