Practical Stress-Relief Tips for Trying Times

March 19th, 2020

It is tempting to smoke or use tobacco to cope with stress. 

However, using cigarettes or tobacco as a way to handle unpleasant feelings can lead to further complications: 

  • Smoking isn’t a long-term stress reliever. In the time it takes to smoke a cigarette, you could do something else that’s more effective—like take a short walk or try a relaxation exercise.
  • Smoking doesn’t solve the problem that’s giving you stress. Your stress will return.
  • Nicotine addiction causes stress. Cravings for nicotine feel stressful because your body begins to go through withdrawal.

It’s important to find healthy ways to handle stress and take care of yourself without smoking. Try some of these practical tips to deal in healthy ways that your body (and your mind) will thank you for: 

1. Take a break

Even if it is just for a few minutes‚ take a breather from a stressful situation. This might mean doing something that you find relaxing, like playing a game or talking with a friend. It could also mean stepping away from the situation for a while by taking a walk or going to get a snack.

2. Breathe deeply

Take a few slow‚ deep breaths. For an extra benefit‚ breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. You will feel your body relax.

3. Exercise

When your body is active‚ it sends out natural chemicals that improve your mood and reduce your stress. Walking is one of the easiest exercises for most people. Even a short walk every day will help you to reduce your stress and improve your health.

4. Visualize

Close your eyes and imagine you are in a place where you feel safe‚ comfortable and relaxed. It can be a real place or one you make up. Picture it as clearly as you can. Let yourself enjoy being there for a few minutes.

5. Scan for tension

Our bodies hold on to stress and tension. Scan through your body and look for places where you are tight. These are areas you should target for stress relief. Some simple things you can do to reduce stress include stretching‚ exercise or getting a massage. Even a few minutes of rubbing your shoulders‚ neck and head can release lots of tension.

6. Talk to someone

Talking with a friend or family member about your life is a great way to help reduce stress.

7. Focus on the here and now

A lot of people get stressed out thinking about the future. Try focusing just on what is happening now‚ not on what you might have to deal with in the future.

8. Take care of yourself

Especially right after quitting smoking‚ you should make extra efforts to take care of yourself. This includes basic things like eating a balanced diet, drinking lots of water and getting enough sleep

9. Cut out caffeine

Caffeine helps keep you awake when you are tired‚ but it also can make you feel tense‚ jittery‚ worried and stressed. If you are feeling stressed‚ drinking caffeinated coffee‚ tea or soda can make it worse. This is especially true when you are quitting smoking. Cutting back or even eliminating caffeine can help reduce your stress.

10. Face the problem

Stop and think about what makes you stressed. Is there something you could be doing to fix the problem? It can be helpful to talk with others about what is happening and see if there are ways to make it better.


Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Tobacco Free Colorado is a project of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE).
Through the State Tobacco Education, Prevention and Cessation Program, we share resources to keep Coloradans healthy and tobacco free.