Coping with stress after quitting smoking

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