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Coping with stress after quitting smoking


Stress after quitting

Stress can be one of the biggest challenges an ex-smoker faces after quitting smoking.  Understanding what role cigarettes used to play in your life in dealing with stress and how to change this is a key part of overcoming this common trigger. 

You probably spent a good number of years using cigarettes as a way of coping with stress—financial problems, marital issues, loss of a loved one, work stress, etc. The truth is that smoking is a cause of stress.  Nicotine is a stimulant and causes blood pressure and heart rate to increase.  Cigarettes also cause cortisol—a hormone released in response to stress—to increase.  When you light up, what you are really doing is alleviating cravings and withdrawal associated with smoking which include irritability, headache, and anxiety.  When you relieve withdrawal symptoms, you feel relief.  Now that you’ve quit, smoking is no longer an option!  You will have to undo this relationship by replacing it with other, healthier alternatives to dealing with stress. 

Some suggestions for stress relieving activities might include:

  • Journal
  • Meditate
  • Work on a hobby
  • Go for a walk or hit the gym
  • Listen to music
  • Read a book
  • Play a sport
  • Deep breathe
  • Work on a puzzle
  • Do relaxation exercises
  • Log onto QuitNet and access one of our 24/7 chatrooms!

Stress is a normal part of life.  It cannot always be avoided. However, how you react to stress can be changed. Every time your resist the urge to smoke by incorporating a coping strategy, the more effective you become in dealing with stress and the less cigarettes will be a part of your life.


Master Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialist


Tomorrow is my quit day, and I teach all these relaxation skills each day to my clients as a behavioral speacialist, so it's time for me to "practice what I preach" so to say. I'm looking forward to utilizing this blog through my journey.
Posted @ Monday, January 02, 2012 7:45 AM by kimmepotpe
I have not had a cigarette for 7 days now. I feel all tight from "stress?'. The last 2 days have been the worse. What can get me through the hard times? Any suggestions would be helpful. I don't want to smoke anymore.
Posted @ Tuesday, January 03, 2012 10:37 PM by Kathie S.
Congratualtions, Kathie. You may be over the worst of it already. We don't do tobacco treatment here at the blog, but I always recommend looking for other ex-smokers in one's family, work, or elsewhere. Ask them if you could talk about quitting. More often than not, that's all we really need.  
If you don't know other ex-smokers, you can visit as a guest, or become a free member; then you can connect with others who are in the same boat, and many who've been quit a long time.  
In my own quit, the worst of the physical detox was over in the first week. I quit cold-turkey, and had been a heavy smoker, so I experienced a full detox. Not pleasant, but do-able.  
Luckily, I had a couple of friends I could commiserate with; that got me through the roughest spots.
Posted @ Tuesday, January 03, 2012 11:46 PM by Alan Peters
My quit day is on the horizon. I'm reading Liane's list for stress relief and find it matches the pleasures smoking prevents me from enjoying. So I'm eager to enjoy a life free from this addictive drug and equally eager to enjoy Liane's whole list.
Posted @ Sunday, January 29, 2012 6:35 AM by John Tidyman
John: Congrats on your decision to quit! It sounds to me like you have a lot to look forward to! Enjoy your freedom from cigarettes!
Posted @ Monday, January 30, 2012 11:01 AM by Liane
I am trying very hard to quit as I have been watching my Mom slowly die of COPD, she is 89 lbs. I have Lupus and want to be around for my three beautiful grandsons!!! I worry because my husband will not stop and is very negative about my trying.I realize it's his fear of trying but it is very distracting.
Posted @ Saturday, February 04, 2012 9:36 AM by Tracy
I'm so sorry to hear about your mom, Tracy. Quitting when someone in the house smokes is challenging, but not impossible. Get support and tips from other ex-smokers at QuitNet!
Posted @ Wednesday, February 08, 2012 12:48 AM by Liane
In my 8th day of not smoking now. Smoked for 50 years and I AM finding that I have absolutely no coping skills other than lighting up a smoke! A startling discovery, its nice to find that others have had this moment. The "event" triggers I have a pretty good understanding of: driving, work breaks, bed time etc. Its the emotional events: anger, sadness etc that have really made me have to talk to myself urgently to avoid "smoking at" whatever is bothering me. So its important to know that others face the same thing.
Posted @ Saturday, February 11, 2012 10:19 AM by Kirk
Congrats on your 8 days! Turning to cigarettes to cope with stress is a learned behavior. It can be UNlearned! Log onto QuitNet for 24/7 ideas and tips for managing stress!!!
Posted @ Wednesday, February 15, 2012 11:00 AM by Liane
i've been a smoker since 1993. my school days. ive got 2 kids now.time for me to be a man enough to quit this dirt. have done it earlier during my college days. almost for 2 years from 1997 to 1999. however the urge and craving now is killing. since ive been a working professional and more serious in life. whatever negativities there has been a positive way to cope-LIGHT ANOTHER CIGG. HENCE NO MORE. what's funny are these various messages and blogs that say it takes u 2 weeks to quit and all. BELIEVE ME PEOPLE it doesn't take u 2 weeks to quit just 2 days to quit smoking. if u're man enough to be completely clean for 2 days. i can assure u that the craving last for just those 2 days. after that it's beautiful! have experienced that. so all u have to make up ur mind for is those initial 2 days...
Posted @ Wednesday, September 03, 2014 11:10 AM by vivek tyagi
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