A good quality of life is what we all strive for, and people work around the clock or ponder upon ideas that will trigger success driving enterprise. Alongside striving for a good life packed with happiness and wealth stress comes in between. The reason being unpredictability of the future or present and out of the blue unexpected situations or challenges arise.
It isn’t a great feeling to feel stressed and in order to cope with it, people resort to various behaviors and smoking is one among them along with drinking, drugs and binge eating. There are individuals who smoke for pleasure as well, just to experience the feel of having a good time. In such cases, the reason for smoking is just a way to get away from normal day to day life, but it is not necessarily a set off from stress. When normal levels of smoking turns into an addiction, then stress is one of the reasons for it. The affected person is termed to be a stress smoker. A recent study has revealed smokers, particularly heavy smokers have higher levels of depressive symptoms and anxiety compared to non-smokers.
What are the stressful circumstances that elicit smoking behavior?
Whether it is a single person who is studying or working or a working parent, there are many responsibilities to handle. A single person who is studying will have to balance between university, work and assignments and a working woman will have to balance work hours and there is the stress of being financially independent. A working parent needs to work around balancing professional and personal life and there are so many thoughts embedded in the mind simultaneously. On analyzing the lifestyle of people in different life phases what are the stressful circumstances a person encounters. It is the challenge to multitask, get ready for sudden surprises such as a work deadline, child or loved one falling sick and change in economic scenario and so on.
Smoking causes stress:
Individuals who are unable to bear stress take into smoking to feel relief and calmness, but the fact is smoking does not reduce stress, it actually causes stress. When a person smokes, the nicotine (addictive substance a psychoactive or mood altering drug) enters the bloodstream and moves to the brain where it releases a feel-good chemical called dopamine. The effect of pleasure or feeling good caused by dopamine is short lived, and as a person continues to smoke till the level of this chemical reduces making a person feel worse than the first inhalation. When a person experiences perceived feeling of relaxation from the first light up from dopamine, the craving for cigarettes increases. During this period, the body experiences low levels of oxygen, muscle tension and increased heart rate and blood pressure and these reactions increase stress levels in the body and the individual now feels more stressed than before.
According to research conducted by National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, nicotine damages the blood vessels and also has an effect on skin health causing wrinkles. Nicotine has an adverse effect on the lungs by causing oxygen starvation. Nicotine increases risk of heart problems, with increase in number of cigarette smoking, there is an increase in the level of plaque buildup in arteries. People who smoke are at a greater risk of suffering from breast and lung cancer.
Smoking affects mouth and throat health; excessive smoking causes stained teeth and bad breath. Smokers are at an increased risk of suffering from cancer in esophagus, throat and tongue. Over 93% of reported oropharyngeal cancers are due to smoking, however an important point to remember is a person who has remained smoke free for twenty years has a lower chance of suffering from neck and head cancer.
Smoking affects reproductive health and causes male impotence, it damages sperm and increases occurrence of testicular cancer. There have been reported incidences of 120,000 men in UK being impotent and the main reason for this is smoking. Based on inference from recent research men who smoke are at a higher risk of having reduced sperm count when compared to non-smokers. Smoking affects fertility in woman as well, and females who smoke are at a 72% risk of unhealthy reproductive system than non-smokers. Pregnant woman who smoke are at a higher risk of having stillbirth, premature birth and miscarriage.
Stress management to fight cigarette cravings:
When succumbed to stressful situations it is difficult to fight cigarette cravings, it is however possible if we have the willpower to get over the addiction.
Tell yourself you are determined to quit smoking and set a quit date, develop will-power and you will have the courage to reduce number of cigarettes and throw away cigarettes.
Whenever you experience cravings, tell yourself it is short lived (cravings last for few seconds to one minute). Tell yourself smoking is no longer an option and remember the 5Ds which is drink water, delay, distract, deep breathing or discuss problems with loved one.
Always have a positive outlook through visualization- Surround your thought process with something beautiful. If you are someone who likes to be in calm surroundings, imagine yourself to be in a scenic place such as among greenery or on the beach. Such thoughts of being in a place that is calm will help you get into a state of relaxation with no room for anxiety.
During free time gradually work on activities you enjoy doing such as reading a book, listening to music, watching favorite shows and so on. Remember, in order to beat stress you need to make time for hobbies, and not think of it as a waste of time.
In order to make yourself feel better you can decorate your home or wear an outfit which according to you is nice.
If you are experiencing work related stress, work out your savings and work on something that will make you less stressed and happy. For example-If you are the type who prefers to have your own business, work on a business plan and get it going.
Regular exercise helps beat stress- Exercise regularly to beat stress and it need not be a complex exercise, a good regime would be brisk walking, swimming or biking. Regular physical activity boosts endorphins which are neurotransmitters that induces a feel good effect. The American Heart Association recommends a 30 minute daily exercise schedule.
Get help from doctor and counsellor
Always remember there are healthy ways of combatting stress that will make you feel good and happy with yourself.