How to cope with stress without smoking – Strategies & tips
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For more than 35 years we’ve received requests for advice by letter, email, and postcard from all over the world. We’ve answered every single one of them, and continue to do so with pleasure. I’ve undertaken to publish as many replies as I can in the hope that it will help even more people to freedom. Real-life questions from struggling smokers.
How will I cope with stress when I quit smoking?
How will I cope with stress when I quit smoking? I’m going to use Allen Carr’s Easyway to Quit Smoking and am wondering what are some tips and tricks for when you have bad situation occur at work, dealing with mean people, stress etc? What do you do? Kathy, Martinsville, Maine, USA
Well done for getting in touch with your query — I’m sure I can help.
Most smokers (and some ex-smokers) believe that smoking helps with stressful situations and the conclusion they draw in advance of quitting smoking is that their stress levels will increase. The great news is that in fact, the opposite is true and that you can expect a reduction in the level of stress you experience when you quit smoking. The only caveat to that is that you use Allen Carr’s Easyway to Quit Smoking method which explains exactly how the illusion of stress relief works with smokers (and it’s great to hear that’s what you’re planning to do).
As an 80 a day smoker I was convinced that I wouldn’t be able to handle stress without cigarettes but had no idea that smoking was actually increasing my levels of stress.
I was completely controlled and enslaved by smoking. Just purchasing them was a trial in itself. Buying four packs a day is humiliating so I would visit a different store each day of the week to avoid the shame of the shopkeeper exclaiming, “More? You had 4 packs yesterday!”. I found it unbelievable that someone could be so cruel — but it happened on many occasions in the event that I was obliged to visit the same store on two consecutive days. It never occurred to me that the shopkeeper’s reaction was understandable and merely an expression of huge surprise on their part.
Buying cigarettes was only one aspect of my stressful life as a smoker. As a chain-smoker you live your life constantly in search of opportunities to smoke, manufacturing excuses to leave meetings, move venues, avoid public transport and other areas where smoking is prohibited, and so on.
Can you imagine anything more embarrassing as a fully grown adult, than finding yourself sneaking to the bathroom for a smoke, stood inside a stinking cubicle like a foolish schoolchild, then returning to a meeting having kidded yourself that the handwashing, the spritz of aftershave, and a mouthful of mints would disguise the stench of cigarettes?
Of course, everything I’ve mentioned so far has been related to the practical aspects of smoking leading to increased levels of stress for smokers but the really big news is that in addition to those — the notion that a smoker enjoys a reduced level of stress because they feel better when they have a cigarette is a ‘house built on sand’, out of illusion and misunderstanding.
OK — if you have an argument with someone, or someone is irritating you and you leave the situation to go for a cigarette — you do feel less stressed. Not because of the cigarette — but because you’ve taken yourself away from the stressful situation and given yourself time to calm down. This is something that non-smokers do ALL THE TIME and is not the result of some magical stress-busting qualities of cigarettes. You can carry on doing this when you quit smoking — you’re not missing out on anything.
I still need to explain the feeling of relief that a smoker senses when they light a cigarette in that situation…it definitely seems to do something doesn’t it?
So let me highlight exactly how your brain is fooled into thinking that cigarettes reduce your level of stress rather than add to it.
Apologies for the rough scan of a page from one of our more recent quit smoking books. It illustrates how smokers get convinced that smoking helps with stress. Have a read of it and then return to the text below.
I hope that makes sense to you. A smoker always has that additional level of stress that a non-smoker NEVER has to deal with. When that extra stress is partially relieved, the smoker does feel better than a moment before…but they’re still feeling more stressed than a non-smoker feels. It’s a clever illusion and one that all drug addicts suffer from.
At our Live Group Seminars we actually help smokers experience the illusion of stress relief while they’re at the seminar. We use real-time examples that enable attendees to actually feel & experience the illusions of nicotine addiction and nicotine withdrawal on their body. These are stunning, life-changing moments as smokers experience physically and mentally how they’ve been conned by the addiction. There are so many elements of Allen Carr’s Easyway method that can’t be replicated in a book — no matter how we try.
Support Link: Anyone reading this piece, experiencing similar (or entirely different) issues with stopping smoking can obtain free of charge advice from us via the following link. To obtain that guidance select SUPPORT . You’ll then get to fill out a short questionnaire about your experience with the method — and based on that — a senior Allen Carr Therapist will provide you with bespoke, detailed, free of charge advice on how to get the method to gel for you.
Well done for raising your concern Kathy — understanding that you’re not facing a future with a reduced capacity for handling stress is a great realisation. I hope my words have set your mind at ease but am sure that in any event, the evidence of your own experience when you quit with Allen Carr’s Easyway will confirm to you that you’ll find it easier to relax, that you’ll feel less stressed (and better able to cope with stress when it occurs), and that you’re not missing out on anything by you become a happy non-smoker…quite the reverse.
John at Allen Carr
The name in this article has been changed to protect the sender’s identify.