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5 ways to reduce stress and lift your mood while you are stopping smoking (and during life generally! )

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When stopping smoking it is normal to notice that you may feel a bit more down and stressed than usual. Nicotine withdrawal can create changes in your body that mean it is returning to normal after being used to a regular intake of nicotine. The good news is that these changes only last a few weeks but it is important to take extra care of yourself during this time to help reduce any symptoms. We have created a check list of five things you can incorporate into your life when stopping to help you through the initial period of stopping.

Being active

Exercise and activity have many benefits for the body and mind. Exercise relieves stress by increasing endorphins in your body and has many benefits for general good health. the UK Chief Medical Officers’ Guidelines recommend that adults should do the following weekly:

  • at least 150 minutes moderate intensity activity, 75 minutes’ vigorous activity, or a mixture of both
  • strengthening activities on two days
  • reducing extended periods of sitting

Try and find something that works for you and that you enjoy. Some people may benefit from videos that they can do in the comfort of their own home. There are many free yoga videos and exercise videos for all levels of fitness on You Tube. The Body coach and Yoga with Adrienne are popular channels and are accessible for all levels of fitness.  Some people may enjoy a walk outside. Getting fresh air and seeing the outside world can create a change in mind set. Have a look at our apps and tools page for more resources to help track your progress. If you are not used to regular exercise, build up at a steady pace and don’t overdo it to avoid injury.


Relaxation exercises and deep breathing

Breathwork is a very cheap, effective and easy to use tool that can help us to manage our stress levels when stopping smoking. A popular simple breathwork exercise is the 4-7-8 breath. This can help calm anxiety and improve sleep if done before bedtime. Breathe in for a count of 4, hold for a count of 7 and breathe out for a count of 8. You can access timers and simple breathworks apps on google play or the apple app store that help to time the breaths and that also provide other breathwork exercises with differing benefits. If you have asthma or a respiratory condition check in with your doctor that it is safe for you to do breathwork exercises before you start.


Take extra care of yourself.

Be kind to yourself during this time. You may feel bit more tired and need more rest and you may feel a bit more down and need to incorporate more self-care than usual. This is ok. You are only human and this period of withdrawal will not last long. Make sure you are looking after your nutrition and general health. Get the sleep you need and allow for some extra rest and relaxation. Speak to your family and friends to let them know that you may need a bit more support and understanding during this time.


Take up a new hobby.

When we smoke we often don’t realise how much time it can take up. All of those 5 minute cigarettes add up! One of the rewards of stopping smoking is that you have more space in your life for things that you enjoy. We are all different, some people want to read more, some to people might want to volunteer in the community, take up a  sport, cook more, watch more films, it’s your life and you can decide what you like to do! Its helpful to have something to distract you, an activity that you can fall back on when stopping. Things that involve your concentration are beneficial as they help you to forget about smoking.


Enlist support.

When preparing to stop smoking it may help to tell your friends and family in advance what your plans are. Let them know that you may need some extra support during this time. If you are a bit more snappy than usual this may be due to nicotine withdrawal and if they know this they will be less likely to take things personally. It can be helpful for some people to join an online support group such as the NHS Smokefree quit smoking support group. Smokefree Quit Smoking Support Group | Facebook. There you can share your experience with other people who are also quitting and get motivation from others.  If you live in the borough of Merton and would like some one to one support please contact One You Merton on the registration page of the website.  Merton Health & wellbeing service – One You Merton. Anyone in London can also access the London Stop smoking portal with online stop smoking advisers to help when you need it. Stop Smoking London – We’re Here to Help You Quit Smoking.


Lastly remember that stopping smoking will benefit you for the rest of your life and the first few weeks are the hardest. It will get much easier! You will gain so many benefits and it will be worth it!