Lots of people talk about how to handle stress now that they don't smoke anymore. Smoking is something many do to "deal with stress" because they believe it calms them down. I get it. I used to say the same thing. Logically, this makes absolutely no sense.
Nicotine is a mood-altering drug and it seems to suppress feelings of frustration, anger, and anxiety when it’s inhaled. Physically, smoking increases the level of stress in the body. It increases your blood pressure and heart rate, it constricts your blood vessels and decreases the oxygen going to your brain which can suppress coping skills in the brain.
Did anyone ever tell you you will wrinkle prematuring because of your smoking? Well, this is true because when you smoke you TENSE the muscles in your face! That is more stress!
When you smoke, nicotine enters your bloodstream and travels to your brain, where it releases several neurotransmitters including dopamine, the primary reward chemical in the brain. The positive feelings you experience when dopamine is released are short-lived. Once the dopamine levels decrease, you’ll feel worse than before you lit up. Instant withdrawal.
I spent a lot of time recently thinking about how stress in my life has decreased since I've stopped smoking. The following is just a short list of things I am less stressed about and grateful for because I no longer smoke!
- Flight delays in an airport; long airline flights - I don't need to worry about when I can have that next cigarette.
- Hotel Rooms or Rental cars - Hoping I don't get caught for smoking in a rental car or room and not having to carry super air freshener to try to cover up the smoke smell.
- Panicking when you don't see where you CAN smoke - I can find these so easily now just from the smell and then it makes me smile since I don't do that anymore!
- Walking into a room knowing I don't stink like cigarette smoke (I may stink, but it isn't from smoke!)
- Being able to move and being able to condition my lungs to do more and more daily!
- Feeling a huge sense of accomplishment that I am a successful EX-smoker!
- Not worrying about being a hypocrite for my kids; don't smoke....and used to sneak away to light up. So stupid and stressful....not anymore!
- Finding an amazing community full of people who get it. When I need help, you are all there and understand.