When was the first time you started smoking? Was it due to your peers or while you took a break with your work colleagues? No matter how you start, there is a phase where you start to contemplate giving up this habit. Most smokers say they wish to quit, but some continue to smoke because it relieves tension and anxiety. It’s a widely held assumption that smoking aids with relaxation.
According to the National Health Service, smokers are also more likely to acquire depression over time than nonsmokers. It mentioned that cigarettes interfere with some substances in the brain. When they haven’t smoked in a while, the desire makes them irritable and anxious. To relieve themselves of this feeling, they resort to lighting a smoke and the symptoms are temporarily eased. As a result, smokers associate improved mood with smoking.
The NHS, the public-funded healthcare system in UK, added that the consequences of smoking are what raised your anxiety in the first place. Quitting smoking improves one’s stress levels. A widely cited study, titled, “Does cigarette smoking cause stress?" published in the journal, American Psychology agreed with this notion. It mentioned, “Far from acting as an aid for mood control, nicotine dependency seems to exacerbate stress."
Therefore, in order to relieve yourself of your daily stressors, you should resort to eating healthy, exercising, meditation, and other effective means. Here are a few breathing hacks suggested by nursing coach Jessica Winder that can relieve your anxiety-
- Box Breathing: It is a process where you Inhale, hold, exhale, and again hold (for 4 seconds each). It is most effective when you are breathing in a diaphragmatic pattern, i.e., inhaling through the nose and exhaling through the mouth.
- 4-7-8 Breathing: Here you first inhale for 4 seconds, hold for 7 seconds, and exhale for 8 seconds. This process can help reduce stress, anxiety. Lowers blood pressure, reduces inflammation, and also improves sleep.
- Deliberate sighs: Inhale twice in rapid succession and exhale audibly through the mouth. This should be done before meals or anytime you want to relax.
- Alternative nostril breathing: Block the right nostril and inhale slowly through the left. Block the left and exhale through the right. Do the reverse next. This improves focus and helps memory retention. It also helps enhance cardiovascular function and reduce blood pressure.