Scared not to smoke?

Are you too afraid of stress to consider quitting?

Nutritional Practitioner, BA (Hons), DN, DNT (Distinction)
Ask Ali

04 January 2013

Scared not to smoke?

If you’re wanting to give up smoking but worried that your anxiety levels will skyrocket, take comfort from recent research that showed exactly the opposite.

A study published this month followed nearly 500 smokers for 6 months as they took part in a smoking cessation programme[1]. The results? You may be surprised to see the way things went.

  • Smokers who gave up successfully had a decrease of nine points in their anxiety scores – they were quite substantially less anxious than when they were smoking
  • Smokers who didn’t manage to give up had an increase of three points in their anxiety scores – the cigarettes were definitely not doing a good job in keeping them calm!
  • Those whose main reason for smoking was to help cope with stress had the greatest reduction in anxiety when giving up smoking, and the greatest increase in anxiety when not managing to give up smoking. Ironic!

It seems that successfully giving up smoking is a great way of becoming less anxious, even if you thought that the cigarette habit was keeping stress at bay. It’s important to succeed in your attempt, so take advantage of your doctor’s advice, free clinics and support, and some simple lifestyle tips such as those below.

  • Get plenty of fresh air and exercise to increase production of happy chemicals called endorphins, which make it easier to cope with withdrawal and mood swings
  • Ensure that you eat regularly to keep your blood sugar stable. A chromium supplement might be helpful, and avoiding too much refined sugar and coffee will also help.
  • Some people find that chewing sunflower seeds takes the edge off their nicotine cravings. Craving Essence is a useful additional tool for many people.
  • Consider all the herbal remedies that can help with anxiety and stress reduction, as one of these may help to support your nervous system more effectively than the baccy.

[1] Mairtin S et al. The British Journal of Psychiatry 2013; 202: 62-67

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