People begin smoking for a variety of reasons. It’s a social activity, something to do at parties or when standing around on a break from work. It can make people feel calmer when their nerves are on edge. Nicotine triggers the dopamine in the brain or the reward center that makes you feel pleasure. Some people start just because it looks cool, or because they’ve seen people they look up to doing it. Unfortunately, despite the fact that cigarettes are legal for people over age 18, they’re very addictive. On average, a smoker will attempt to quit between six and eleven times before they’re successful.
If you frequently feel stressed out or anxious, whether from work, home, or some underlying mental disorder, cigarettes and seem like a quick fix. Nicotine travels quickly to the brain, so the feeling of relief is all but instantaneous. Unfortunately, the longer you smoke the harder it will be to keep up with that feeling. It’s not just that the feeling of wellbeing is hard to give up – people develop physical addictions to nicotine. Nearly as soon as you finish one cigarette, you may begin craving another. This is how people end up chain smoking. The good news is that the worst of the withdrawal symptoms from nicotine only last a couple weeks at most.
Consider other ways to de-stress. Stop and take a deep breath. Get some exercise. Physical activity can release a chemical in your body that improves your mood and relieves stress. Try to relax. Attempt meditation, deep breathing, yoga, or go get a massage. Call a friend or family member or attend a support group to talk through your problems. Trying cutting out caffeine. Caffeine is a stimulant that can increase your anxiety and keep you awake at night. Focus on getting healthy. Stay hydrated and try to stick to a nutritious diet, and your entire body will feel better.
If you smoke to be social or out of boredom, consider changing your habits. Spend breaks with a different group of people who don’t smoke. Try to get interested in books or music or take up a hobby like sports or cooking. If you feel the need to keep your hands and mouth busy, try chewing gum and finding an object to fidget with, like a stress ball.
Look for a program to help you stop smoking. There may be groups in your area, or you could call a hotline, chat with someone online, or even download an app. There are also products like nicotine gums and patches that can help with cravings. If you do manage to quit, not only will you reap the health benefits, but you’ll save a lot of money. You might find yourself with hobbies you never knew interested you, or a new, better group of friends.
If you or a loved one need help to quit drugs or alcohol, consider Asana Recovery. We offer medical detox, along with both residential and outpatient programs, and you’ll be supervised by a highly trained staff of medical professionals, counselors, and therapists. Call us any time at (949-438-4504).