Stress and quitting smoking. 3 step technique not to light one up
First and foremost we have to agree here, that stress is a normal human experience, that we all face time at a time. Stress and quitting smoking does not pair well, but it can not be an excuse not to quit smoking. You just need to manage the situation and you state of mind. Stress and quitting smoking does not pair well
Stress may be dealt in two major groups- long term stress, and short term stress. I write about the short term stress in this article, that quitter faces during the day. You will discover what actions you have to execute, so your excuses to light a cigarette would not overcome your determination not to smoke at that moment.
Technique I offer is way more complex than smoking a cigarette, can’t deny that, but I may assure you, that after practicing my method for several months, you will not only stop smoking in stressful situations, you will manage unpleasant situations way better, then you do it now.
Stop and identify the situation
Don’t ignore your stress. When you are stressed out, and unconsciously crave for cigarette, first thing you have to do is STOP for a moment and give yourself a report about the situation that occurred. Evaluate your state of mind. You have to admit to yourself, that smoking is not gonna help. You’ll feel worse after you finish your cig. It’s the same as peeing in your pants outside in a winter time. It is warm, while you do it, but it gets 100 times worse just after you stop.
Now, when you stopped and conscious, you put your brain out of the autopilot mode, to a manual control. You can execute your routine of stress management.
Your aim is to live through 15 critical minutes. You have to reload your brain, and go through your day with a fresh emotional state. It is essential, you keep busy during the first crisis minutes. You have to be busy, by getting back on track, by reaching 3 goals:
- Calm down
- Get dose of dopamine
- Boost your self-esteem
It would be best you could stay alone for this short period of time so nobody interrupts you. After practicing for a while, you can manage your stress anywhere anytime, but peacefulness and silence helps at least in a first month of practice.
Have some tools to calm down without a cigarette. Try drinking water and counting from 20 to 1 it often helps, but if you want something new, I have a bit unconventional suggestion.
Body scan. This is a form of mini meditation, that you can perform anytime anywhere. I tried it many times, and that works. Ideally you need a calm place, where you can sit in peace and do it with a closed eyes. After you try this technique for a dozen of times, you will be able effectively execute it waiting for a public transport, or in a middle of a stressful meeting. It is worth mastering this one.
You sit down, close your eyes, do several calm deep breaths, and pay full attention to your body parts.
You start from your ears, try to feel are they warm or cold.
You go to your eyes after that, do they sore? Maybe they are wet.
How about your nose?
You go through all of your body this way from ears, to toes, stopping by every part of it for 3-5 seconds. If you have some extra time, go back from bottom of your body to head. 30- 60 seconds of this technique, paired with calm breathing, does the job.
This technique sounds simple, but try it out at least 5 times before reaching for the patch or cigarette. It does magic with stress and quitting smoking.
After you calmed down, you should feel sadness, emptiness, or any other melancholic emotions. That is absolutely fine. After you calmed down in a stressful situation, you are warned out emotionally in some level. What you need now is to load yourself with positive emotions. Hormone endorphin performs best here.
Get dose of endorphins
Plenty of natural ways exist how to load your body with endorphins. Find several that suits best for you in different life situations. Below are my suggestions, that are proven:
Talk it out. Phone to a person who inspires you. Not each of us has such person, but if you do, or if you are lucky to have several close friends or family members who distracts you from a routine, and makes you feel better- make a call.
I write about this technique in my article “3 step quitting smoking program you never heard about”
I encourage to make any call before smoking a cigarette, and that is an effective practice. If you can find several people, who inspires you, and they are OK to help you go through the craving period, consider you halfway in your non-smoking meadows.
Just do not talk about your quitting and craving too much. Talk about things you like or passionate about, not about things you dislike and want to get rid of.
Put on music and dance. Inspiring and good vibes spreading music is what you need at that moment. I do not say dance as if nobody sees you. I say put on your headphones on, and give your body and mind 3 minutes of blast when you are alone in the room. Wipe your sweat off your face and have a big glass of water. Did not get sweat? You did not mean it with your dance then. Repeat the exercise. After the endorphins receive from your wild dance, big chances are you’ll forget you wanted a cig just 5 minutes ago.
Eat some spicy food. You are not in a situation where you can dance? Grab some spicy food and watch how sweat goes down your forehead. If you are in to such kind of food, you may remember, that after pain goes down, you feel slightly euphoric for a short period of time. You can try it as a hit of endorphins and most probably will not be wrong.
Have some dark chocolate. Just the opposite the spicy takeaway mentioned above. Good old dark chocolate does the trick if you have a sweet tooth.
I want to mention, you should not abuse the food. Benefits gained are proportional to effort you put in so I recommend food as a source of endorphins in the situations where you can not get them in some other way. That leads us to the major endorphins producer- exercise.
Exercise. Sorry for being boring, but no doubt this is the best way to produce endorphins so you can’t get away without some effort. Some of us love it, some of us hate it, but the truth is we all need some physical exercise.
If you are a sports lover, you can abuse this one to get more endorphins, but if you are not in to sports, and gym is not your thing, I will give you a rule of thumb. Do physical activity until you get sweat and continue for 5 more minutes after that. That is enough to get a dose of endorphins. If you are not in the best shape, intensive walk for 10 minutes will do the trick. You do not have to go to the gym if you do not want to. In fact, you can do it during the lunch break with a suit. I must warn you that I do not take the responsibility for the smell at the second half of the day in the office.
At this point you should feel relieved already, but last step remains, just to be sure, there are no consequences of that stress you felt short time ago.
Boost your self-esteem
When you are stressed out, and constantly thinking about a cigarette, your self-esteem goes down dramatically. Dose of endorphin you just received will last for a short time. It is enough time to work with your self-esteem, that will relieve stress level for a long period of time.
Personal goal list. Write your personal goal list. I know it is hard to praise yourself, so we will make the creation of this personal goal list an endless process. Sorry, but you need it as a therapy.
First time you will work on your self-esteem, write down 10- 20 goals you have achieved in your life. Write some from a high school, some from your work environment, some from a family life. If you think you have no goals accomplished in your life, your standards are too high. Lower them down. You will not show this list for anybody, so there is nothing to be ashamed for writing “I smiled to my neighbour the other day and she smiled me back”. Smile is also a goal, you have to start somewhere.
Keep it in your phone. Each time you have to boost your self-esteem, read the list with an aim to add at least one more goal to the list. You will actively read and write in this manner. It will give you not only long goal list after several months, but also some hours, you spent on boosting your self-esteem. Great exercise, do not neglect it.
Write a gratitude journal. Being gratitude is so important. It is also important to write your thoughts down, as writing is so much stronger than thinking. You have to optimize your statement so it may be written- such action needs effort, that leads to result.
You do not need to overthink your list of things you are grateful for. Think about simple things you are really grateful- health, family, nice dinner you had yesterday. You will not show your journal to anybody. Process of writing is important here. Write 5- 10 sentences, that is enough for one session.
You are welcome to read some entries from the past after you finished your writing. You may remember many joyful moments you’d forget if not that journal.
Stress is manageable without a cigarette
After all three steps you made, I am sure you feel well and steady enough not to use stress as an excuse to smoke.
All the measures that I am writing may be changed to any other of your choice. My point I want you to pick up from this article is, you can manage your stress by three steps
- Stop and evaluate
- Take action- receive endorphins
- Fortify- boost your self-esteem
Stress and quitting smoking is not good combination at all, but anybody can deal with this combo, so nothing to afraid of. You have to act first, think second in this situation.