Welcome to Week 4 of Tobacco Cessation™. Congratulations on being halfway through this program that will guide you towards quitting tobacco for good. This week, our focus is on developing skills that calm us down and help us deal with stress in our lives.
Watch Video: How to Deal With Nicotine Withdrawal
Flatten out your hand and hold it at arm's length. Picture that your hand is your problem and you can see it in perspective. Now slowly bring your hand right up to your nose. When you do this, about all you can see is your hand which of course, represents your problem. We spend much of our lives with our nose buried in our problems. When you extend your arm back out, all of the sudden your problem doesn't change. You now see it in perspective – at arm's length – and it doesn't seem as overwhelming anymore.
Stress is a factor in everyone's life and is something we need to learn to manage. When we develop the skills to manage stress, it makes goals like quitting tobacco for good more realistic.
As you are probably aware, people who use tobacco often say it helps them relieve stress. This is because the nicotine releases chemicals in the brain that help lower anxiety for a short time. However, smokers live near the edge of a cliff, so to speak. Most are never more than a few hours away from the start of nicotine withdrawal symptoms. Below are some ways that may help you relieve stress effectively:
- Carve time out each day to do something peaceful- listen to music, take a bath, or work on a hobby.
- Practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, yoga, massage therapy, or meditation.
- Exercise! Being active helps relieve tense muscles and nerves. Go for a walk, ride your bike, swim, or play tag or catch with your kids or grandchildren.
- Socialize. Being around other people and talking to them about how you feel can also relieve stress and boost your mood. Consider seeing your doctor if your stress level is effecting your general daily activities.
- Take care of yourself. Eat a balanced diet, limit caffeine and alcohol, and get plenty of sleep and exercise regularly. These help balance your mood, energy, and health.
- Keep your stress in perspective.
- Think positively. You've taken the best step possible to improve your health by quitting tobacco. Congratulate yourself for this great achievement.
Ways to Cope
There are many other things you can do that may help you cope if you feel the urge to use tobacco. Below are some common complaints from other people who quit and what they did to feel better. Keep in mind that each symptom is a sign that your body is healing!
If You Experience:
Cough, dry mouth, or nasal drip
Drinking water, cough drops, hard candy.
Use over-the-counter pain relievers. Take a warm bath. Drink water.
Rise slowly from chair or lying position. Drink water.
Constipation, gas, or stomach ache
Add fiber to your diet (whole fruits and vegetables, whole-grains); drink lots of water.
Eat a low-calorie snack such as raw vegetables. Drink water.
Go to bed earlier and aim for 8 hours of sleep per night. Take naps if possible. Exercise can boost your energy, as can nicotine replacement therapy (NRT).
Avoid caffeine after 6p.m. take a warm bath and perform a relaxation exercise prior to bedtime. Avoid screen time prior to bedtime.
Go for a walk or exercise. Do a relaxation exercise. Use a NRT or your prescribed quit smoking medication.
Lack of concentration
Plan your workload accordingly. Avoid extra stress as much as possible during the first few weeks of quitting tobacco.
Cravings for a cigarette
Choose one of your alternative activities to exercise and wait out the urge. It will last no longer than 7 minutes.
Adapted from the National Cancer Institute booklet, Why Do I Smoke?.
Alternatives to Using Tobacco
Download the calendar of 31 things to do instead of using tobacco. Choose a few favorite activities from this calendar and begin using them as a substitute to using tobacco.
You will soon develop a habit of using a few favorite substitutes instead of turning to tobacco. This is an excellent sign that your work to quit for good is paying off.
Dealing with Tough Times
You're bound to experience challenges on your journey to quitting for good. Below are some potential challenges and ideas for overcoming them:
If You Are:
Feeling stressed or tense
Perform a relaxation exercise, take a walk, or try one of your alternatives to using tobacco.
Around other tobacco users
Practice your saying, “no thanks, I don't smoke/chew” phrase. Leave the scene if necessary and go do something active.
Do one of your favorite alternatives to using tobacco. Get busy!
You've made great progress towards better health and quitting tobacco for good. Come back next week to continue your journey towards living a tobacco-free life.