It takes a monumental effort to quit smoking. Along the way, you’ll experience feelings of anxiety and depression. You may even have problems with your relationships. However, the health benefits (e.g., reduced risk of lung cancer and a healthier cardiovascular system) far outweigh these short-lived experiences. While many people think of these things, what they don’t realize is that, according to research, there’s a strong correlation between mental health and smoking.
Smokers and Mental Illness
The Journal of the American Medical Association has released a study in which it found that 43% of all smokers have mental health conditions. If you know anything about nicotine, this isn’t surprising. Nicotine is a moderately effective mood stabilizer, so it can help you feel calmer temporarily. However, nicotine can also increase feelings of anxiety, depression, and stress.
How Quitting Smoking Will Improve Your Mental Health
Many smokers have heard horror stories about a lifetime of nicotine cravings, hence making them terrified of quitting. While quitting is challenging, the challenge is only temporary. Research suggests that you can improve your mental health by quitting smoking.
Researchers have conducted a meta-analysis of 26 smoking studies that looked at 44-year-old adults who smoked a pack a day. They followed up with these people after 6 months and found that those who quit smoking were able to dramatically improve both their mental and physical health. The improvements were so dramatic that researchers compared them to taking antidepressant treatment. Those who quit smoking also reported greater life satisfaction, happiness, and less anxiety.
Is it time to quit smoking?
Now that you understand how both your physical and your mental health are affected, isn’t it time to quit smoking? Here are some tips that you can use to do so. There are also some tips for your friends so that they can encourage you throughout this journey.
How to Stop Smoking
Many people are scared to stop smoking because they feel like they’re going to be miserable for a long time. Today some medications can help you (e.g., Chantix, Zyban, nicotine replacement therapy) stem off unpleasant symptoms so you can ease into quitting. There are also a few other things that you can do to improve your chances of long-term success, including:
- Have a specific plan of action that starts on a specific date
- Get support from those around you
- Replace smoking with a healthy habit (e.g., exercising, sucking on cold water through a straw)
- Identify your triggers and create a strategy to help you deal with them
- Keep busy
- Remind yourself why you’re quitting
How to Help Someone Else Quit Smoking
When someone you care about is quitting smoking, there are a few things that you can do to help them, including:
- Don’t tell someone that they’ll always have cigarette cravings. Not only is this false, but it also fosters their feelings of hopelessness, making it harder for them to quit.
- Help reduce their level of stress for the first few days after they quit smoking.
- Don’t smoke around your loved one. Instead, help them remove all ashtrays and other smoking accessories from their home.
- Don’t guilt, shame, or lecture them about their health.
- Expect them to slip up several times before quitting successfully.
- Focus on the positive.
- Celebrate their little victories, so they’re empowered to reach bigger ones.
It’s never easy to quit smoking, but the mental and physical health benefits continue to add up. Spending a few days being miserable is worth it for a lifetime of good health. Regardless of how long you’ve smoked, it’s never too late for you to quit. For help with this or any other mental health issue, reach out to us at TMS Advantage Clearwater in Clearwater, FL, today.
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