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Old 10-28-2007, 06:34 PM   #1
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mizzaj HB User
Quitting Smoking and Anxiety

I'm a soon to be second time quitter, and this time around, I'm much more anxious about it. I've had stomach problems that have gone undiagnosed for about 9 months. Though I smoked before they started, as the months dragged on and my symptoms continued undiagnosed (even after many tests), I started smoking more to cope with the uncertainty and frustration.

As a result of eating less from the stomach problems, I've lost 30 much needed pounds. But I also wonder if some of that was due to the increase in smoking. Sometimes I feel like I can't quit until I'm exercising regularly again (which I did before the stomach problems) to counteract the loss of the extra calories that are burned from smoking. This makes me anxious. I don't want to gain *too much* weight....I'm not afraid of eating more, simply because I can't. But that in itself creates anxiety, because when my stomach didn't feel right, I'd go for a cigarette. And now I'm not sure what I'll do when the anxiety from my stomach hits. It's kinda scary. I've been meditating and started going to therapy a few months after the stomach problems started, and my doc even suggested that quitting could help my stomach problems. But despite these things, my level of anxiety is so high-- and smoking was the one thing I turned to to deal with it. Again, I just don't know how to replace that conditioned behavior so that I don't get overly anxious.

I plan on using the patch to help me quit. It helped me the first time around. But I started again 10 months after quitting when anxiety kicked in about starting a new job. I'm already taking a benzodiazepine (klonopin) for my anxiety as well as antidepressants, but neither has been enough in light of my recent circumstances.

Does anyone have any tips for how to deal with the anxiety that I've had before and will surely have when I quit? I remember how great it felt to quit the first time and not be tethered to the addiction. But at the same time, the grip of the addiction convinced me that it was worth it to start again, and at the time, the guilt I would later feel was masked by the "relief" I felt.

Anyway, any suggestions for dealing with anxiety would be great. My therapist has given me suggestions, tips/tools, but I just don't feel like they're enough. I think I need tips from people who have actually quit-- not just a therapist who has helped others to quit.

Thanks!

 
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Old 10-29-2007, 07:43 AM   #2
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UCanQuit HB User
Re: Quitting Smoking and Anxiety

Hi mizzaj,

Sounds like you're anticipating a lot of things happening when you quit that are making you anxious.

You mentioned that you quit for 10 months and then smoked because of stress of a new job. This is one of the most common reasons people go back to smoking or I should say, smoked a cigarette.

It is because after years of smoking, we get brainwashed into thinking that smoking relieves stress. When truthfully it created stress. When a smoker is under stress, this causes a physiological reaction that causes nicotine to get pulled out of the bloodstream faster, causing us to go into the first stages of withdrawal. We would then smoke a cigarette and "feel better". Then thinking that smoking helped relieve some of our stress, when the only thing that it relieved was withdrawal.

The problem is that even when we quit smoking. We have a lot of left over memories such as this. If we still on some level think that smoking relieves stress and somewhere down the line we run into a stressful situation. We might want to smoke a cigarette to try and relieve that stress. Unfortunately, it only reintroduces nicotine into the bloodstream. It only reinforces the addiction and need for another cigarette and a lot of times we end up back where we escaped from....in the grip of addiction.

You mentioned that you're taking medication for anxiety. You should let your doctor know that you're going to quit smoking, because they will most likely need to be medication adjustments. It is common for people taking medication to have it adjusted after they quit. Not doing so can cause some side effects that can be confused with symptoms of quitting smoking. This can discourage a person and cause them to go back to smoking.

I know that it is easier said than done, but try not to anticipate what is going to happen too much. A lot of times the anticipation of an event can build up a wall of fear creating a lot of uneeded anxiety. Ususally we find out that the actual event was no where near as bad as we anticipated it to be.

Take a smoker for example. Put them into 2 different scenarios and you'll most likely see 2 different reactions because of anticipation.

Scenario 1. They are going to a restaruant to eat. Before they go in, they smoke a cigarette. So they smoke, go inside and enjoy their meal. Now this is really no big deal right?

Scenario 2. Same person is getting ready to catch a plane. So they smoke a cigarette outside and then go in. Now I have seen this first hand and watched smokers. A lot of times there is hesitation before they put that cigarette out. Sometimes they almost put it out then reconsider and try to get another couple of drags out of it. Sometimes they start to go inside and then turn around and try to smoke another one very quickly.

The same person acts completely differently in two different situations. It is because of the anticipation of what is going to happen to them.

In the restaraunt it is no big deal, because they know that they can leave and smoke anytime they really want to, but the same person catching a plane knows that they cannot. So they smoke as much as they can before they catch the plane, but the problem is that the person is probably going through mental withdrawal even before they finished smoking their cigarette. They are already creating anxieties before anything has happened and all this will do is create even more anxiety when it does happen.

If you're dealing with a lot of anxiety. One of the best things to do is Yoga. If you have Netflix, there are many videos that are good for beginners. The local library is another good place to go to or a bookstore or a Hollywood Video.

If you drink caffeinated products. Cut those out. Especially after you quit smoking. This will only cause anxiety.

Practice slow deep breathing. You can google Yoga Breathing techniques and fins some good sites for learning how to breathe properly. Smokers are notorious for breathing shallowly and people often hold their breath when under stress, creating tension in the muscles.

Start exercising. This can help a lot too.

I used to be a very anxious person myself. I used to be a type A personality. Since I quit smoking, I am a lot more calmer than I ever was as a smoker.


Eric

I freed myself on 7/7/04

 
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junebugzz (01-03-2012)
Old 10-29-2007, 08:52 PM   #3
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Join Date: May 2007
Location: Los Angeles
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mizzaj HB User
Smile Re: Quitting Smoking and Anxiety

Quote:
Originally Posted by UCanQuit View Post
Hi mizzaj,

Sounds like you're anticipating a lot of things happening when you quit that are making you anxious.

You mentioned that you quit for 10 months and then smoked because of stress of a new job. This is one of the most common reasons people go back to smoking or I should say, smoked a cigarette.

It is because after years of smoking, we get brainwashed into thinking that smoking relieves stress. When truthfully it created stress. When a smoker is under stress, this causes a physiological reaction that causes nicotine to get pulled out of the bloodstream faster, causing us to go into the first stages of withdrawal. We would then smoke a cigarette and "feel better". Then thinking that smoking helped relieve some of our stress, when the only thing that it relieved was withdrawal.

The problem is that even when we quit smoking. We have a lot of left over memories such as this. If we still on some level think that smoking relieves stress and somewhere down the line we run into a stressful situation. We might want to smoke a cigarette to try and relieve that stress. Unfortunately, it only reintroduces nicotine into the bloodstream. It only reinforces the addiction and need for another cigarette and a lot of times we end up back where we escaped from....in the grip of addiction.

You mentioned that you're taking medication for anxiety. You should let your doctor know that you're going to quit smoking, because they will most likely need to be medication adjustments. It is common for people taking medication to have it adjusted after they quit. Not doing so can cause some side effects that can be confused with symptoms of quitting smoking. This can discourage a person and cause them to go back to smoking.

I know that it is easier said than done, but try not to anticipate what is going to happen too much. A lot of times the anticipation of an event can build up a wall of fear creating a lot of uneeded anxiety. Ususally we find out that the actual event was no where near as bad as we anticipated it to be.

Take a smoker for example. Put them into 2 different scenarios and you'll most likely see 2 different reactions because of anticipation.

Scenario 1. They are going to a restaruant to eat. Before they go in, they smoke a cigarette. So they smoke, go inside and enjoy their meal. Now this is really no big deal right?

Scenario 2. Same person is getting ready to catch a plane. So they smoke a cigarette outside and then go in. Now I have seen this first hand and watched smokers. A lot of times there is hesitation before they put that cigarette out. Sometimes they almost put it out then reconsider and try to get another couple of drags out of it. Sometimes they start to go inside and then turn around and try to smoke another one very quickly.

The same person acts completely differently in two different situations. It is because of the anticipation of what is going to happen to them.

In the restaraunt it is no big deal, because they know that they can leave and smoke anytime they really want to, but the same person catching a plane knows that they cannot. So they smoke as much as they can before they catch the plane, but the problem is that the person is probably going through mental withdrawal even before they finished smoking their cigarette. They are already creating anxieties before anything has happened and all this will do is create even more anxiety when it does happen.

If you're dealing with a lot of anxiety. One of the best things to do is Yoga. If you have Netflix, there are many videos that are good for beginners. The local library is another good place to go to or a bookstore or a Hollywood Video.

If you drink caffeinated products. Cut those out. Especially after you quit smoking. This will only cause anxiety.

Practice slow deep breathing. You can google Yoga Breathing techniques and fins some good sites for learning how to breathe properly. Smokers are notorious for breathing shallowly and people often hold their breath when under stress, creating tension in the muscles.

Start exercising. This can help a lot too.

I used to be a very anxious person myself. I used to be a type A personality. Since I quit smoking, I am a lot more calmer than I ever was as a smoker.


Eric

I freed myself on 7/7/04
Hey Eric,

Thanks for your reply...you are right, I'm anticipating A LOT of things that will happen when I quit. I'm an agitated anticipator-- the type that anticipates things with nervousness, anxiety and dread. It certainly is a counterproductive behavior to needing to quit. But it's true-- the first time I quit, it happened pretty easily and I maintained it for 10 months....

I will definitely mention to my doc when I've quit. If they need to up my medication, so be it. I'm not afraid of taking meds as a tool to help me cope-- especially when it's a much healthier option than smoking.

Smoking is such a paradoxical phenomenon-- we crave the ritual as much as the nicotine itself in order to feel calm or escape anxiety, and yet it perpetuates the cycle. when you mentioned the difference between a smoker trying to hurry a cigarette before a flight, versus someone who's at dinner and knows they can step outside for another smoke at any time, it reminded me of me. I smoke in my car. There have been times when I can't find my lighter, and there's this sense of panic-- that conditioned thought process of, "I can't go for the next however many hours without a cigarette! I need my lighter".

I definitely want to be calmer, no question. And I want to be healthy. I've been exercising more lately-- walking, going to the gym. It helps some. And when I meditate, I practice deep breathing through my diaphragm. These things are hopefully putting me on the road to quitting (soon!), but for now, they're just part of the "pre-contemplation" stage of quitting. I'm trying to put factors in place that will allow me to be mentally ready to quit, but it's definitely not an instant process like I wish it could be.

Anyway, thanks for your support, and congrats on being "free" for so long!

 
Old 11-05-2007, 09:03 AM   #4
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Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: royal oak mi 48067
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marian100 HB User
Re: Quitting Smoking and Anxiety

Try hypnosis along with the patch or other method you choose. It helped me alot more than the patch alone. When I tried with just the patch I would get a nagging feeling. I didn't get this with the hypnosis. Been smoke free for 15 months. Good luck and Godbless

 
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