Understanding Smoking and Stress
For many people, stress and anxiety can be eased with a quick cigarette, but this is an unhealthy, addictive habit that can be hard to break once it has taken hold.
These days, everybody is aware of the hazards of smoking, but many people still persist with the habit – either because they’re so addicted they can’t give up or because the pleasure they get from smoking makes the threat of illness a price they’re willing to pay.
Unfortunately it’s true that smoking can relieve stress. Nicotine stimulates the neurones in your brain, increasing attentiveness, decreasing appetite and irritability and relaxing muscles. Many smokers find that the habit regulates their moods and they associate a cigarette with pleasant sensations.
In reality, the body has no physical need for nicotine and the addiction is purely psychological. If it works for you, however, you don’t seem to be able to avoid the situations that make you want to smoke, giving up is never going to be easy.
There are alternatives to smoking and ways to ease withdrawal. here you will find a number of ideas on how you can feel better without reaching for a cigarette.
Reasons for you not to smoke
Smoking damages your health in a number of life-threatening ways.
Smoking has been linked to nearly one in four deaths from cardiovascular disease. Nicotine and carbon monoxide encourage the narrowing of the arteries, which increases the risk of stroke and heart attack. Women are at particular risk of developing deep vein thrombosis, especially if they also take the contraceptive pill.
Damage to the Lungs
Smoking inhibits the lungs’ protective mechanisms, enabling the harmful substances contained in tobacco to settle in the lungs. This reduces their overall capacity, leading to shortness of breath, tightness of chest and wheezing.
Easing Stress Without Smoking
If there’s no way to avoid the stress that leads you to reach for a cigarette, you should try some of these easy alternatives instead.
There may be times when you feel nervous and anxious and need a cigarette to give you energy and confidence.
Oil blends for cravings
As a substitute try using an aromatherapy pulse point oil by making up the following blend and dabbing it onto your wrists and the back of your neck whenever you feel a cigarette craving coming on.
- 2 drops grapefruit
- 2 drops neroli
- 2 drops spearmint
- 2 drops geranium
- 1 drop black pepper
- 1 drop lime
- 30ml carrier oil
The citrus aromas helps to ease your cravings, the mint and pepper energise you and the geranium helps to calm and balance your mood.
Reducing Hunger Pangs
Many smokers, especially young women, use cigarettes as part of a diet routine, as nicotine is an appetite suppressant. Reaching for a sweet instead of a cigarette can help you to give up, but this can result in weight gain if you’re not careful.
Go on Treat Yourself
Believe it or not, chocolate is much better for you than sugary sweets and can also help make you feel better – great news! If you’re trying to give up smoking, keep a small bar of dark chocolate close by and have a single square instead of a cigarette when you feel the need for a boost. As long as you don’t eat more than a bar a day you shouldn’t find that weight gain becomes a problem. you could try chewing gum – nicotine enriched gum may help you to kick your habit – or try opting for healthier snacks such as carrot sticks or slices of fruit.
Reducing Withdrawal Symptoms
If you’re seriously trying to give up, you’re bound to suffer from some withdrawal symptoms. At least if you know what these are you’re more prepared to suffer through them.
One of the most common symptoms is increased phlegm in the throat and nasal passages, similar to a cold. This happens when you smoke because your lungs produce extra mucous in an attempt to clear themselves of the tar and ash you inhale. Once the amounts of tar and ash are reduced, your lungs take a while to catch on, leaving you feeling phlegmy and blocked up. Fortunately, you can treat this with aromatherapy blends similar to those used for clearing catarrh and head colds. Try using the following blend in a steam inhalation or dabbed on a handkerchief
- 4 drops eucalyptus
- 2 drops niaouli
- 2 drops pine
When you give up smoking it will take a while for your lungs to catch up. You can relieve the discomfort of this process by inhaling catarrh clearing herbal infusions.