Smoking and mental health are closely related. Smoking is sometimes seen as a release from stress and anxiety, but it can actually make things worse. Smoking may reduce anxiety levels temporarily, but then raise your heart rate and cause irritability, insomnia, and depression.
Quitting smoking can better your mental health by eliminating nicotine, addiction to which can contribute to heightened levels of stress, anxiety and feelings of worry. Removing nicotine from your system can reduce these issues considerably and is also likely to improve your quality of sleep.
In this post, we look at how and why quitting smoking can significantly improve your mental health.
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Reduced Anxiety Levels
Certain types of chemicals can raise your anxiety levels, as nicotine does with every puff on a cigarette. The temporary relief that comes with lighting a cigarette washes away very quickly. Nicotine levels in your body peak shortly after the last hit, then drop off shortly after, leaving you craving another in as little as 30 minutes.
One of the biggest benefits of giving up smoking is significantly reducing high stress and anxiety levels, and having better ways to cope with it. People who have successfully quit the habit had better heart rates and showed the ability to think clearly and decisively.
They were able to manage stressful situations that made them anxious without having to light a cigarette.
It’s true that quitting is a rocky road – you may feel stressed and have anxious thoughts during the first week due to withdrawal symptoms. In fact, the stress brought by extreme levels of craving and withdrawal can be so high, many smokers relapse.
But, in as little as 3 days, nicotine leaves your body and it adjusts to not needing it anymore, leaving you feeling less stressed and worried.
Quitting smoking affects your mental health in many ways, including improving your mood.
Many smokers have experienced a vast improvement in their mood after quitting smoking. When nicotine leaves the body, you can expect to feel irritable and may experience increased appetite levels and some weight gain. But after two weeks or a month passes, you can expect these symptoms to disappear.
While mood improvement does happen with lower anxiety levels and better stress management, one big effect of quitting smoking is having a huge sense of accomplishment.
Quitting smoking is no easy feat. According to a 2018 CDC smoking cessation survey, only 7.5% of a batch of smokers who tried to quit that year were successful. So, if you’ve successfully quit smoking, you should be very proud of yourself.
Better Sleep Quality
Aside from smoking adversely affecting your mental health, it can worsen it even further by reducing your sleep quality. Nicotine in cigarettes can give you a small energy boost after finishing one cigarette, which may lead to difficulty in falling asleep, and even contribute to insomnia in some cases.
Lack of sleep has been linked to increased levels of stress and anxiety. The combined effects of smoking and poor sleep can create a cycle where you might feel your mood and mental health slipping even further down.
While quitting may introduce initial restlessness of its own and make you feel stressed out, it’s important to know that this only lasts for a few weeks, unlike the ongoing negative effects of continued smoking.
Once you’ve finally kicked the habit, you’ll experience better sleep quality.
A Boost in Self Confidence After Successfully Quitting Smoking
Being confident in yourself after quitting smoking successfully is one of its best benefits to your mental health. You gain a higher sense of pride in yourself whenever you accomplish a feat that not just anyone can do, and quitting smoking is definitely one of those.
The world has over a billion smokers who can consume entire packs or more in a day and find it difficult to quit. Numerous failed quit attempts or a stressful lifestyle are some common factors in this inability to kick the habit. Even casual social settings can cause relapses in smokers who have stopped for years.
Anyone who’s successful in their quit journey should be proud of themselves and raise their heads high, confident in their ability to make anything happen by just putting their mind into it.
What’s most important is that you stick with it.
There is no downside or negative impact to your mental health from quitting smoking. Instead, you’ll experience positive impacts – reduced stress and anxiety levels and a higher likelihood to experience restful sleep.
After succeeding in your quit journey, you can give yourself a big pat on the back and take great pride after accomplishing such an enormous feat.
We know that you’re reading this article because you want to stop smoking and feel better mentally and physically. You’re in the right place.
Smokefree Clinic gives you access to many medically reviewed and trustworthy resources that can inform and aid you in your path to wellness, so have a look around!
If you’re ready to get started, Smokefree can connect you to bulk-billing Australian healthcare professionals who excel in helping patients quit smoking for good, including using responsible vaping products where appropriate.
Click here to book your bulk-billed telehealth consultation with an Australian healthcare professional and quit smoking today.