There are many reasons why people smoke. Perhaps you do it when you’re out with friends or when you’re bored. Or you might feel that it helps you to relax when you’re feeling anxious or stressed.
If you stop smoking, you’ll see immediate benefits – for both your physical and mental health. In this article, Stop Smoking London and Good Thinking have teamed up to give you some tips on how to quit and how to stay calm in the process.
1. Understand the role anxiety plays in smoking
We know it can be hard to stop smoking and it may feel especially difficult when you’re feeling anxious or stressed.
Some of you might turn to cigarettes in the belief that smoking helps to relieve anxiety and stress – but it doesn't! Smoking relieves nicotine withdrawal symptoms like irritability and low mood, tricking you into believing it helps with anxiety and stress.
It is proven that people who stop smoking have less anxiety, depression and stress, as well as improved mood, compared to those who continue to smoke.
2. Use meditation and deep breathing to help reduce anxiety and stress
A great way to feel calmer as you stop smoking is to use established guided meditation and visualisation techniques. This can not only make you feel relaxed but may help you to make other healthy lifestyle choices.
Why not use Meditainment, which is available on Good Thinking, to do a guided meditation? Or follow the steps in the Centre for Clinical Interventions Mindfulness Workbook? They are both very useful to help you boost your mental health.
3. Make a quit plan
By giving yourself time to prepare, you can move forward with your stop smoking journey with confidence. Get support to use stop smoking medication or nicotine replacement (NRT) products, such as a patch and another fast release nicotine product, to help beat your cravings when they occur. Some medications are available on prescription to greatly increase your chances of successfully stopping for good.
You’re three times as likely to stop smoking successfully with support from a local stop smoking service. If you’d like free one-to-one telephone help to stop smoking or would like to find your free local face-to-face stop smoking service, call the free Stop Smoking London helpline on 0300 123 1044.
It also helps to be prepared for those situations and feelings that may make you want to smoke. Read Stop Smoking London’s tips on understanding your smoking triggers.
4. Get plenty of sleep
Sleep disturbances are a common side effect of nicotine withdrawal. And lack of sleep can make everything, including quitting smoking, feel so much harder. So, it’s particularly important to get on top of any sleep problems you may encounter quickly.
For advice on how to get a good night’s sleep as you quit smoking, check out Good Thinking’s Sleep Workbook. It contains a programme of six modules, which you can use at a time and place that suits you.
5. Take regular exercise
Exercising for 30 minutes a day is a great self-care practice to get your endorphins flowing and boost your energy.
As you quit smoking, you may notice that your lungs heal and you have less coughing and shortness of breath, making it easier to exercise. Being more active will also boost your mood, reduce stress and help you sleep better.
Do you know all the benefits of quitting smoking? Take Stop Smoking London’s online quiz.
5. Don’t do it alone, ask for help
Our final tip is to pay attention to how you feel and be compassionate with these feelings. It may help you to speak about these with your family and friends. There are also online communities to help you quit smoking and Stop Smoking London’s friendly telephone advisors are just a call away.
If you would like help at any stage of your stop smoking journey, visit the Stop Smoking London website, call the Stop Smoking London helpline on 0300 123 1044 or find your local stop smoking service.
If you're concerned about your own mental health (or someone else’s wellbeing), a good place to start is to contact your GP. You can also get expert advice from a number of specialist helplines.
Good Thinking resources
- Five ways to good mental wellbeing
- Free NHS-approved wellbeing apps
- 'Mental health and me' guide
- Self-assessments for anxiety, sleep, depression and stress