During this time of uncertainty, our anxiety levels can be up one day, down the next, depending on multiple factors. When will life return to normal? When will I go back to work? Will I still have a job? When will this pandemic end? We can put ourselves into chaos by all of the thoughts that can race through our heads in a day.Many people might think that this is the worst time to quit smoking, vaping, dipping or chewing. If you have already quit, you may be concerned that the anxiety of the unknown might push you to relapse. But does tobacco really relieve our anxiety? It does not.
There are several factors to consider when looking at anxiety and tobacco. It may seem that nicotine calms our nerves when we are stressed or anxious, but in actuality, it is just relieving our withdrawal symptoms. The half-life of nicotine is usually less than 2 hours. It leaves the system very quickly, and that withdrawal from nicotine feel like anxiety. So, when anxiety or stress presents itself, the memory of how nicotine calmed that anxiety creates an urge to smoke, vape, dip or chew.
Evidence suggests that by stopping tobacco, real anxiety and depression lessen. In fact, smoking is linked to developing anxiety. Retraining your brain to develop skills for managing anxiety and stress can be an important part of recovery. Unfortunately, our brains will always remember what gave us instant gratification and a “quick fix.”
I like to think of recovery from tobacco use like driving a manual/stick shift car. When we are starting out, we have to think of a lot of different things in order for the car to go. But, as we are on the highway cruising along, driving becomes much easier. BUT, we still have to pay attention to the road or we will end up in the ditch!So today, pay attention to the roadblocks that may heighten anxiety, and have confidence in your ability to maneuver through those obstacles without tobacco.