7 Keys to Calm Anxiety About Smoking

Have you quit tobacco and don't know how to cope with withdrawal? We'll offer 7 tips to calm anxiety about smoking according to experts.
7 Keys to Calm Anxiety About Smoking

Last update: 12 March, 2023

Withdrawal from smoking cessation triggers a series of symptoms due to nicotine dependence. Irritability, restlessness, difficulty concentrating, increased appetite, headaches, dizziness, fatigue, constipation, and emotional disturbances are the most common. To deal with them, today we’ve compiled 7 keys to calm anxiety about smoking.

Each person deals with their withdrawal differently, so for some, it’ll be more intense than others. Its duration also varies, as it can last from a few weeks to 6 months. Everyone who’s in the process of quitting tobacco experiences symptoms of anxiety, which can even progress to depression. Let’s see what things you can do to deal with them.

7 tips to calm the anxiety about smoking

There are many variables that affect adherence to the decision to quit smoking. As the experts warn, motivation is key, because, in the absence of a firm commitment, it’s very easy to resort to cigarettes to break nicotine withdrawal symptoms. We’ll leave you with 7 things you can do to calm your anxiety about smoking.

1. Practice meditation

A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America in 2013 found that mindfulness meditation can be an adjunct in the process of quitting tobacco.

The central objective of this type of meditation is to consolidate attention and self-control, as well as the attitude of acceptance and openness to internal and external experiences.

For all this, practicing meditation can be of great help to calm the anxiety about smoking. Try to attend face-to-face group sessions, although if you can’t due to time, you can always do it from home. Do it as many times a day as you consider necessary, initially when the withdrawal symptoms attack you acutely.

2. Use progressive muscle relaxation

A woman smoking.
Tobacco problems require a lot of willpower and professional help to solve.

Progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) is a deep relaxation strategy that has been used effectively to address episodes of stress and anxiety.

Investigators have used it with patients with tobacco withdrawal with satisfactory results. The PMR is very easy to apply, and as the days go by, its effects are more immediate.

PMR consists of two steps: Tension and relaxation. In the first phase, you strategically tense individual muscle groups (quadriceps, biceps, forearm, calves, and so on).

The second phase consists of loosening them. You’ll maintain the tension for about 5 seconds and the distension will be done progressively. Work your way through each of the muscles in your body until you apply the exercise to all of them.

3. Attend acupuncture sessions

Despite skepticism surrounding the practice, some experts have suggested acupuncture as a strategy to ease cravings for smoking.

In general, the practice is useful for relieving anxiety and stress levels; so you should consider attending such sessions a couple of times a week. Do it only in centers that have a good reputation and relevant certificates.

4. Do physical activity

A study published in Healthcare in 2020 suggested that short bouts of physical activity are associated with reduced smoking withdrawal symptoms.

As many smokers don’t practice physical activity on a regular basis, and many of them have compromised cardiorespiratory systems, it’s very important that physical activity is only light or moderate.

Therefore, you must begin to progressively include exercise or sport in your routine; always adapting it to your current physical condition. Biking, jogging, and swimming are just some of the best options.

In addition to calming your anxiety about smoking, exercise and sports will help alleviate some of the complications associated with prolonged nicotine use.

5. Use nicotine patches and lozenges

A black man wearing a nicotine patch.
One of the medical treatments most recommended by specialists to quit smoking is nicotine patches.

As experts point out, the use of nicotine patches is effective in alleviating the feeling of nicotine withdrawal. On average, a 10-week therapy based on them is useful to prevent episodes of tobacco relapse.

Similarly, there’s evidence that the use of nicotine lozenges is associated with positive effects in those who are in the process of quitting smoking.

It’s very important that its use is supervised by a professional. After all, it’s not uncommon for people to exceed recommended usage; or extend therapy for longer than indicated. In addition to this, they’re related to some side effects. The most common are skin irritation, palpitations, trouble sleeping, and headaches.

6. Practice yoga at home

As a complement to mindfulness meditation, yoga can be a timely technique to calm anxiety about smoking. Specialists have endorsed its use, and its benefits are perceived even when it’s only practiced a couple of times a week.

As we’ve recommended regarding meditation, it’s best to attend group sessions, although you can also do them individually at home.

7. Go for a walk

Finally, a simple, fast, and effective strategy to calm the anxiety about smoking is to go for a walk. A study published in Nicotine and Tobacco Research in 2007 evaluated the effect of a 15-minute walk in 60 regular smokers.

Walking reduced cravings and withdrawal symptoms, so it’s a technique you can’t fail to incorporate.

Of course, the benefits can be stronger when you extend your walking time. If you’re not used to exercising, start with 15 minutes and then extend the time as the days progress. In the company of the above tips, it’ll help you avoid relapses due to withdrawal symptoms.

Keep in mind that there are hundreds of ways to deal with withdrawal, so these are just a few of the things you can do. We invite you to connect with support groups to quit smoking. We reiterate that motivation is key, so make sure you are 100% committed to sticking with your decision.

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