Many people feel that smoking helps them to feel less stressed. However, research into smoking and stress have shown that instead of helping people to relax, smoking actually increases feelings of anxiety and tension. Nicotine may create a temporary feeling of relaxation, yet it is often the ‘time out’ which may lead people to feel less stressed, rather than the cigarette itself.
Unfortunately, as soon as you finish your cigarette break, it doesn’t take long for the feeling of stress to start to return.
The only way to control stress in your life is to identify what is causing your feelings of stress and anxiety, and learn how to change the way you feel and react in certain situations. Cigarettes will never be able to help you to achieve this, and simply serve to delay your feelings of stress rather than improve them.
Five ways to handle stress
The keys to successful stress management include building emotional strength, feeling in control of your situation, having someone supportive you can rely on, and adopting a positive outlook. Here are five ways to help you handle stress:
- Take a different perspective: There is a solution to any problem. By simply putting off thinking about the problem, it will remain and you could start feeling more stressed. Understand why your stress has occurred and try to not take it personally. Instead, take back control and start making plans. Write lists, jot down your thoughts and consult a trusted friend or relative. Sleep on it – and see if you feel differently in the morning.
- Get some exercise. It won’t solve your problem, but it might help you to feel more relaxed by putting your energy into a physical challenge. It may also help you sleep if you’re struggling to get some shut eye. Alternatively, there are many simple yet effective breathing exercises to help you manage feelings of stress and anxiety.
- Do something you enjoy. Whether it’s going to a friend’s house, watching a film or painting a picture – taking time for yourself is important and it can help you to feel more relaxed. Doing activities with others can also help relieve stress by talking through how you feel.
- Try to stay positive. Our response to stress is all about how we allow ourselves to feel. Try to take a step back and consider the overall perspective. It can help to write down the things which ARE good in your life, and what you are grateful for. If we cannot change the situation, it IS possible to change how you feel about it. It’s OK to accept the things we cannot change – but the one thing we always have control over is how we react.
- Seek help. For self help with stress, you could try looking at the NHS Apps Library. Don't forget that the NHS offers a free IAPT service (Improving Access to Psychological Therapies) in Hampshire, which provides free treatment to people suffering from common mental health problems including depression, anxiety and stress. You can contact your local free IAPT service directly, for help with managing stress, anxiety and depression:
- Talk Plus - TalkPlus provides support to people with common mental health problems in North East Hampshire and Farnham. Your mental health matters, so TalkPlus offers a range of treatments to people who are experiencing symptoms of stress, anxiety, low mood, depression, panic, phobias or OCD. We have care pathways to provide timely treatment for perinatal and military veteran referrals. Visit www.talkplus.org.uk.
- iTalk - iTalk is provided in partnership with Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust and Solent Mind, and is for patients aged 16 and over and who are registered with a GP in any of the following areas: Alton, Andover, Basingstoke, Bordon, Eastleigh, Fareham, Gosport, Havant, the New Forest, Petersfield, Romsey, and Winchester. iTalk offers range of treatments, including Guided Self Help and Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT), computerised Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (cCBT), employment support as well as groups and workshops. If you are struggling you can access italk through your GP, or you can self-refer via their website: www.italk.org.uk.
“I’m feeling too stressed to stop smoking”
It is true for many people that there are so-called ‘good times’ and ‘bad times’ to try to give up smoking. Some people turn to cigarettes as a comfort in a tough time, but having an unhealthy crutch to reply on doesn’t solve the cause of your stress.
If you’d like to give up smoking, contact us for free help and support. Quit4Life are here to help you quit smoking when YOU are ready.