Many people struggle with setting a quit date as they feel that it is not the right time for them. With the many demands our world places on us with jobs, family, children, and just taking care of the day-to- day chores of home, it is no wonder that we feel stressed and uncertain that this is the best time for us to quit smoking.
However, we do hear from people that when they quit smoking – they surprisingly notice less stress in their lives. Why is that?
Well, physiologically, when one puffs on a cigarette, a large dose of nicotine is delivered to the brain in just 7-10 seconds. This dose of nicotine causes the release of hormones such as adrenaline which causes a transient increase in heart rate and blood pressure which is compounded by the fact that a smoker takes so many puffs per cigarette, and smokes multiple cigarettes per day.
Now that many public areas are smoke-free, smoking can be stressful just because the smoker has to plan their day to make sure that they are able to find a place and time to smoke.
Thus, instead of relieving stress smoking can actually cause it so it is not surprising that when a smoker stops smoking stress levels go down once the nicotine withdrawal is over which is usually within the first two weeks. Ex-smokers no longer need to plan their life around their smoking. They can shop, go to a feature length movie, and play with grandchildren for as long as they want without needing to satisfy their cravings for a cigarette. Also, many find that after they have quit smoking, when stressful events happen (as they inevitably do), they are able to deal with them better, and more calmly than when they were reaching for the cigarette.
Dr. Richard D. Hurt is an internationally recognized expert on tobacco dependence. A native of Murray, Kentucky, he joined Mayo Clinic in 1976 and is now a Professor of Medicine at its College of Medicine. In 1988, he founded the Mayo Clinic Nicotine Dependence Center and since then its staff has treated more than 50,000 patients for tobacco dependence. Send your questions directly to Dr. Hurt at AskTheExpert@becomeanex.org