How does smoking affect my mental health?
Many people smoke because they feel like it helps them to unwind or deal with stress. Smoking can feel soothing and relaxing. But smoking doesn’t actually make you calmer or happier.
The relaxation and happiness that can come from smoking wear off quite quickly. When these feelings go away it makes you want to smoke more. These cravings can feel like anxiety, and when you smoke they go away. So lots of people feel like smoking makes them feel less anxious but this is not true.
People who smoke are also more likely to have depression, but we don’t know for sure why this is. It might be that smoking causes depression, or it might be that people with depression are more likely to take up smoking.
What are the benefits of giving up?
Lots of people want to quit smoking, but sometimes it can be difficult to find motivation. The good news is that, as well as the physical benefits, there are lots of mental health benefits to giving up. These include:
- reduced anxiety
- decreased stress levels
- improved mental wellbeing
- feeling more positive
You might also find that quitting makes you feel good about yourself because you’ve achieved an important goal.
How will stopping smoking make me feel?
Giving up smoking can be difficult at first. You might feel anxious, stressed or experience a low mood. You might also find it harder to concentrate. Remember that these feelings are normal, and they will go away.
Try and find positive ways of dealing with these feelings. It might be useful to focus on something else to help you cope. This could be practising mindfulness, reading a book or talking to loved one.
Looking after your physical health will help your mental wellbeing too so try to:
What support is there for stopping smoking?
You don’t need to quit smoking all by yourself. Look for local stop smoking services near you for support. These might include support groups you can join or meetings with a counsellor. You might also consider using nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) or medications to help you. Speak to a pharmacist or your doctor for more information.
When you’re finding it tough, remember that stopping smoking can help you feel happier, calmer and more positive in the long term. It’s worth it!