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Quit Tobacco - Manage Stress

September 17, 2020
Quit Tobacco - Managing Stress - Lark Health

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Tobacco cessation is almost sure to come with stress. Using tobacco is a common mechanism for coping with stress, so quitting tobacco use is likely to increase feelings of stress without making other changes. However, there are many other ways to cope with stress as you work on quitting tobacco use.

Coping with Stress in the Moment

What happens when you feel anxious, angry, bored, confused, or lonely? Do you reach for a cigarette or other tobacco product? The familiar action and rush of nicotine can feel comforting, but it is not actually lowering stress levels. In fact, many of the effects of nicotine mimic those of the stress response: increased heart rate, rapid breathing, rising blood pressure, and tensed muscles.

Instead of lighting up, there are other ways to respond to feelings of stress, such as the following.

  • Breathe deeply five times.
  • Phone a friend whom you know will calm you down.
  • Physically remove yourself from the situation, such as going outside or to a different room.
  • Mentally remove yourself from the situation, such as busying yourself with an unrelated task.

Lark can help you practice turning to these stress management techniques so that turning to them instead of to a tobacco product becomes a habit. 

Improving Your Ability to Handle Stress

Daily practices that strengthen your body and mind can help manage stress and reduce stress-triggered tobacco cravings.

These are some long-term stress management techniques.

  • Exercising regularly.
  • Journaling, whether about cravings, feelings, or daily events.
  • Meditating.
  • Laughing, especially with friends and family.
  • Reducing screen time, especially before bed.

Learning to follow a healthy lifestyle through small changes is a major part of Lark's tobacco cessation program. A healthy body can handle stress better.

Reducing Stress Overall

Minimizing the number of stressors that you have also helps manage stress. Some stress is unavoidable, but some may be optional. Letting go of, and accepting, what you cannot control can dramatically reduce unnecessary stress. So can saying, "No," when you are asked to take on a task that can become burdensome. 

With some practice, you can learn to let stressors have less of an impact on you and your health, and to prevent them from getting in the way of your efforts to quit using tobacco.

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