5 Proven Ways to Reduce Anxiety When You Quit Smoking

Anxiety is one of the most common nicotine withdrawal symptoms. Here’s how to reduce it when quitting smoking.
by Diane Ross | Sunday, May 19, 2024

Most people who attempt to quit smoking report anxiety as one of the most challenging withdrawal symptoms they have to endure. More often than not this causes people to relapse in the belief that smoking will relieve the mental burden of quitting.

And while this belief is based on illusion—because it's smoking that causes stress and anxiety in the first place—reducing anxiety is crucial to quitting smoking for good.

Below are five simple ways to reduce anxiety when you quit smoking.

1. Deep Breathing

Learning to enjoy a long, slow, deep breath is a quick way to reduce your negative mental load.

Deep breathing activates the parasympathetic nervous system. This helps to put your body in a state of relaxation, even during times of intense stress and anxiety.

You can do this at any time, and it's a simple exercise to include in your daily routine.

Instead of shallow breathing from the top of your chest, try deep breathing from your diaphragm.

Shift your focus from the outside world to the sensation of breathing in and out to get the best results.

2. Mindfulness

A great way to feel calmer as you quit smoking is to use guided mindfulness-based meditation and visualization techniques. This can not only make you feel relaxed but may help you to make other healthy lifestyle choices.

The goal is to bring yourself into the present moment, simply noticing your feelings and thoughts—good and bad—as they arise without holding on to them.

After a couple of practices you will discover that the more aware you are of your body, the less anxious you will feel in other situations.

3. Sweat

Stress can be lifted through exercise, which opens your body's pathways to repair and rejuvenate.

Just 15 minutes of daily exercise can have a substantial impact on your mental health. On top of that, it will help you sleep better.

Take note of how you feel during exercise. If you can keep moving, you can keep anxiety at bay.

You might even find that the dopamine boost after the exercise is a perfect replacement for the stimulation you get from nicotine.

4. Positive affirmation

When you're quitting smoking, patting yourself on the back is a good thing. Positive self-affirmations are statements that can help lift your mood when you say them to yourself regularly.

Studies show that a positive affirmation can help you reduce anxiety and increase the neural pathways in your brain. According to researchers, spending just a few minutes positively thinking about yourself calms your nerves, increases your confidence, and improves your chances of achieving your goals.

5. Talking to Someone You Trust

There is a reason for the saying "a problem shared is a problem halved."

If you're struggling to manage your anxiety, talk to someone you trust.

Just like other humans you are a social creature. And spending time with people close to you will do wonders to fix your emotional state.

You can use your stress and anxiety as a motivator to aim for a healthier, less stressed-out way of life. Increasing your knowledge about what happens to your body when you stop smoking will help you blow through withdrawal symptoms so you can feel good again.

Don’t make quitting smoking difficult for yourself. Doing it with the right quit smoking program might just be the help that you need right now.

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