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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
My boyfriend give up smoking almost 3 months ago. 
Science then he is very upset angry selfish he change completely - I don't know him like that. He has patches and menthol thing he use to be very heavy smoker and we were happy for hi to give up. 
But now I'm not sure ...  
I don't know how to help him how to support him  
He have no hobby just work 7 days a week...
Posted @ Saturday, November 01, 2014 10:54 AM by Andrea
Andrea, try not to worry, when I quit smoking I was also upset and angry, it takes a long time to get over the emotional side of it. The longer your boyfriend stays off the smoking, the more like his old self he will be, it's just anxiety and stress making him seem different, he is still fighting with the emotional side of quitting, it is very hard. But I found that after a year of not smoking, you feel "normal" again. 
Just make sure that he doesn't start smoking again, even a year after quitting, you can get moments where you want to smoke very badly, and then you will be back on them again. 
It takes a year I found, to be free of the addiction, that is when I no longer thought about them and felt relaxed every day, more or less. He is angry because he is still thinking about smoking, and because he is trying hard not to smoke, it's causing him a lot of stress and anger, it will pass, alot of people will tell you it only takes a few weeks to quit smoking, this is not true, you will battle with thoughts of smoking, on and off for a long time, but after a year he will be over 99% of the emotional problems that quitting can cause. 
Trust me he will be more relaxed and a happier person in time. Most of the battle in quitting is in the mind, and it takes a long time to rewire the brain to deal with life without smoking when you are used to smoking all the time. 
Give it one year and things will be a lot better.
Posted @ Saturday, November 01, 2014 6:29 PM by Nick
If you want to help and support him, you need to help him relax and help him deal with stress, he was used to dealing with stress by smoking, it was a crutch , now he doesn't have that and it is scary for people who quit smoking to realise they have no skills at dealing with stress and anger, all they had used for a long time was smoking to help . 
It sounds like he is using his job as his way of coping, but taking on to much when you quit at first is not good, you need to take care of yourself and relax during the first few months. 
Unfortunately, when you quit smoking, your stress level increases at the very time you're giving up one of your ways of coping with stress: your cigarettes. This is why he is not himself. But it will get better the longer he is not smoking, do not use nicotene replacement patches or gum, you are just dragging out the amount of time it is going to take you to be free, go cold turkey, quit, it's the best way of quitting, it's hard but it's proven to be the way most people quit and stay off the smoking. And the quickest way of getting free of the addiction. 
Here are some healthy ways of handing stress: 
Exercise is helpful. It relieves tension and often improves mood. Try to find a form of exercise that you enjoy and make it part of your daily routine; it's one of the best cigarette replacements out there. For me getting out of the house was vital to quitting, walking daily helped me a lot with the stress I was going through quitting. Try and do some cardio, weights, anything that will give you a outlet for your anxiety and stress. 
Eat regular meals, and limit your caffeine and alcohol use. 
Be sure to get enough sleep. Aim for seven to nine hours of sleep every night. 
Try not to take on too much. Set limits with others and don't take on more responsibilities than you can handle. This is especially important during the first month or so after you quit smoking. 
Learn to prioritize. Focus on what's most important, and learn to let other things go, at least for the time being. 
The longer you go without smoking, the better you'll get at managing stress without cigarettes.
Posted @ Saturday, November 01, 2014 6:46 PM by nick
When I quit smoking, I felt like I was never going to feel happy again, I felt horrible and irritable and anxious for a few months, but it passes, you may think he has made a mistake quitting,and you will never get your boyfriend back, that he is different, but in time you will see that is was all worth it, and he will be the person you used to know, and he will be better than he was as a smoker. 
You will not find anyone who has quit smoking for over a year who will say it was a mistake to quit and they feel worse than they did as a smoker. It just takes time, all you can do is try to be there for him during this time, talk to him, and know that he is still going through the mental battle of quitting, even if he doesn't think so, it's why he is not his old self yet,  
Once he beats this, you will get your old boyfriend back, in another few months you will see a big difference
Posted @ Saturday, November 01, 2014 6:52 PM by nick
its nice to meet u guys and i smokes cigarette about 3 years but,i gradually feel stress about after quitting 5monthis it??? 
Posted @ Saturday, March 14, 2015 9:54 AM by tekle
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