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​​​​Many people say stress is their strongest smoking trigger. Many people who smoke feel that smoking cigarettes helps with stress. Our bodies become used to the nicotine in cigarettes and feel on edge without it. When you stop smoking, you might feel nicotine withdrawal, which could feel like anxiety, depression, restlessness, headaches or hunger. If you have nicotine withdrawal, smoking can be relaxing because it will help take away these feelings. Cigarettes can help with the stress of these feelings, but they may not help with the other kinds of stress that we face in our daily lives.


Smoking can also help lower stress because it is a chance to take a break or a "time out" when you are in a stressful situation. Having time alone to take a break and relax is important. When you quit or reduce smoking, you still need to take breaks. Instead of smoking, do something else you enjoy. Take a walk, listen to music, read, or have a tea.


For those who are experiencing big life changes, such as pregnancy or becoming a new parent, these changes can create new worries and stresses about things like money, getting enough sleep, changes in your body, childcare, lifestyle changes, needing time off work … and more. It is an important time to find healthy ways to let go of your stress. Many busy parents also feel that smoke breaks give them time alone. When they quit or reduce smoking, they do not have this time to themselves; especially new moms who spend most of their days alone with baby.


You may also find that smoking give you a short period of relief from the stress. Here are some ways to reduce stress and help you feel relieved for longer:

Do an activity you enjoy such as yoga, knitting, reading, playing sports, painting or gardening; exercise; eat healthy; write in a journal; take naps; breathe deeply or do meditation; talk to someone (a close friend or family member, health care provider, counsellor or support group); get plenty of sleep; drink water; make time for yourself; or make plans to limit stressful situations or people

To read more about tips on exercise and for eating healthy.​