guy smoking at work

Does Cigarette Smoking Help Reduce Stress?

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This is a classic. Smokers are usually seen to head for their smoking pits in a state of agitation or stress, usually in the office.

A non-smoker might think that a smoker is able to relieve stress by smoking because of the obvious body language depicted by the smoker. There’s a deep inhalation proceeded by a release of a cloud of smoke with the smoker’s eyes glazing in contentment. Anyone would believe that smoking is a huge stress reliever.

In fact most smokers find it scary to quit smoking due to this very reason, they are fearful of how they will manage stress situations without their trusted companion alongside. This whole thing about stress relief and smoking is one big illusion. Smokers don’t see it for what it is, a drug addiction, for obvious reasons and the non-smokers obviously have no reference to know because they have never smoked.

Smoking cigarettes increases stress!

If you go by medical evidence it just increases stress by causing a huge spike in your blood pressure. But I will not be quoting medical evidences here.

Let’s just go by your own experience as a smoker and I have the authority to talk about smoking experiences, having been a smoker for many years. I am talking to smokers here, do you feel that you get relief from stress after you have a smoke? Be honest about it.

Let’s say you are in a stressful situation at the office. You head for the pantry and light up a cigarette, take a few deep drags and feel good about it. You return back to the same stress again after you are done with the cigarette, in fact you even feel a bit lousy and fogged.

But you did feel good for 5 minutes while you were smoking so obviously the cigarette helped you beat stress, correct? You are wrong, because it’s just your illusion speaking.

The reality is that you are suffering from two kinds of stress here:

  • stress at the office due to a situation which needs your attention.
  • stress within yourself because of the nicotine craving (which increases during stress, I will explain why).

So when you go for a smoke this is you mental state:

Mental state = stressed = stress because of office work + stress because of nicotine craving

When you are having a smoke

Mental state = stressed = stress because of office work

This is why you feel relieved of stress because when you are smoking you take care of the stress caused by nicotine craving and hence feel a reduction in your stress levels. You need not have felt this stress if you were a non-smoker in the first place and hence its ridiculous to claim the smoking relieved your stress.

After you have finished smoking:

Mental state= stressed = stress because of office work + stress because of nicotine craving + stress due feelings of negativity owing to your smoking habit + stress due to health consequences of your smoking habit.

Back to square one as soon as your finish your cigarette. In fact now you have a couple of stress factors added to your previous list, not a very useful stress buster now is it?

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