Manage Emotions When Quitting Smoking

Edited by Grimm, Anonymous, Eng


This guide is part of our series of articles on improving and maintaining your health and wellness.


Quitting Smoking Can Create an Emotional Roller Coaster

It's OK for a child to raise a fuss when they feel bad, but adults don't have that luxury.

When you make the choice to quit smoking, you're not alone. It's estimated that 25 million people smoke in the United States, but that number is steadily declining. More than two million people quit smoking each year in America alone. That means you aren't the only one, even though it can feel like it, especially if friends and family aren't supporting you, or aren't interested in you quitting.

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Even if those who care about you are interested in you quitting smoking, or are supporting you, sometimes their support isn't enough. Quitting smoking is a burden only you can carry across the finish line, and it can be hard to do. We've discussed in our other articles how nicotine creates neural networks of dependency, but we haven't gone into detail about the mood swings and depression that can come with breaking down those networks.

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You see, when you quit smoking, you are probably going to feel bad before you feel better. We'd love to tell you that you'll feel great, and you will once you've kicked the addiction, but at first, you're not going to feel good. You'll have intense cravings that you're going to need to manage, and you'll feel hungrier than you've probably ever felt before. However, you'll also start to taste foods and spices more as your taste buds and sense of smell are regenerated. Meals will be more enjoyable, and over time, you'll start to feel a sense of freedom from smoking that you probably haven't felt in years.

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There is, however, a lot of management involved. The end result is a happier and healthier life, so it is worth it. In the end you'll feel better about yourself. It just takes a little work. Since you'll already be managing cravings and food portions, we'll provide advice that will help you manage moods and fight off nicotine cravings. The following tips will help you to create a positive environment, improve your mood, and combat stress.

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When you're done with the tips, we've also provided the most comprehensive list of smoke free hotlines and help organizations anywhere in the world. Just scroll down to locate one in your part of the world, or let us know in the comments if we've missed your organization, and we'll add it.

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4 Things You Can Do to Create a Positive Environment

Controlling your environment, and filling it with positive things, can make you feel much better about quitting smoking.

  1. 1
    Do things you enjoy.
    That means taking walks, shopping, playing games, or even growing roses in potatoes. Whatever it is, make sure to set aside time to do the things that you enjoy doing. Remember that you'll have extra time every day that you would have spent smoking, which you'll be able to spend on something you enjoy. This will help keep your mood positive.
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  2. 2
    Focus on the things you're improving.
    Think about the improved fitness levels you'll enjoy when you've replaced all of the time you spent smoking with exercise and healthy eating. Consider how you'll look, and how others will view you. Maintain your focus on those positive things, and you'll turn those good feelings into a reality of feeling and looking great.
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  3. 3
    Make sure you're relationships are also positive.
    Keep yourself in the company of positive people. Spend time with friends and family, and those you love. Make sure they also help you to feel good about yourself, and support your positive progress towards quitting smoking and feeling better. You'll feel better for the interaction, and it will help you keep yourself in a happy place.
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  4. 4
    Do new things to boost your moods.
    Learning is a great way to occupy the mind, and it can make a huge difference in how you feel about yourself. When you learn something new, like a new workout, a martial art, or even playing a new game, it will help you keep focused on positive things, and improve yourself. Some people even sign up for an evening university class, benefitting from the interaction with others, and learning something new. All of these are great ways to feel better about yourself by actually being better, and that's a positive place to be in.
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7 Ways to Improve Your Mood When You Stop Smoking

Doing things that make you feel better when you quit smoking can make you feel significantly better.

  1. 1
    Structure Your Daily Events:
    Plan your day, and make time for yourself. The more you occupy your body and mind, the less you'll be tempted to smoke, or be exposed to triggers that can cause cravings.
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  2. 2
    Do Things With People:
    Go out with people, and have a good time. You can go to water parks, movies, and plays, or visit an arcade. Just go do things with other people, in a smoke-free environment.
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  3. 3
    Stay Active, and Exercise:
    The more active you are, the better you'll feel. Exercise is a huge part of taking steps to feel good and quit smoking. Plus, it builds positive reinforcement into your program of quitting smoking. When you know that you can't bike more than ten minutes when you first start, but a week later you can go for 30 minutes, it will be a huge motivator to keep going.
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  4. 4
    Reward Yourself for Milestones:
    When you reach the one-week milestone, reward yourself. It can be a trip to the salon, a massage, or something material, like purchasing the new iPhone 6.
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  5. 5
    Do Fun Things (even if they don't seem fun right now):
    Remember the things you used to like to do, and work them into your week. Even if they don't seem fun at the moment, you they will make you feel better after you do them. This also builds positive reinforcement that can help you quit smoking more effectively.
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  6. 6
    Talk With People Who Care:
    Anyone who cares about you is someone you can talk to. Share what you're feeling, and why you feel that way. If you don't feel like you can talk to someone directly, then call one of the hotlines listed later in this article. It doesn't matter where you are, or what you are doing. People who care will be there for you, and they will help you overcome any obstacles to quitting.
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  7. 7
    Get Plenty of Sleep, While Drinking and Eating Healthy:
    Sleep will help you feel refreshed, and leave you better prepared to deal with the difficulties of quitting smoking. Proper hydration is critical to your body, as it will be flushing out poisons and revitalizing itself. Good and healthy foods will help prevent weight gain, while also making you feel better overall.
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12 Ways to Overcome Stress When You Quit Smoking

Stress is part of life, and we all deal with it, but it can be a monster when you're quitting.

  1. 1
    Get Rid of Caffeine:
    This is going to be a tough one for some people, so it's better to try and kick this habit before you start trying to quit smoking. Caffeine increases your stress levels, and that's not something you want when quitting smoking, as you will already have your stress levels on high.
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  2. 2
    Drink a Lot of Water:
    Hydration is important to making sure your body is able to cope with and manage it's own internal functions. Not being properly hydrated will make you feel worse, and complicate an already stressful experience.
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  3. 3
    Take Deep Breaths:
    Pause periodically, and breathe deeply. Focus on your breathing, and count slowly down from ten. When you finish, take a few more deep breaths, and go back to what you were doing. If that doesn't work, then take a walk to calm down a bit more.
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  4. 4
    Get Plenty of Sleep:
    When you don't sleep, you aren't able to function well. It doesn't matter who you are. Being tired will make you irritable and grouchy. Add this to the stress of nicotine withdrawal and battling cravings, and you're sure to be a monster.
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  5. 5
    Exercise Regularly:
    Just 15 minutes of exercise a day can leave you feeling refreshed and energized. That freshness and energy will help prepare you to battle stressful encounters that may come up during the day.
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  6. 6
    Take Some Time Off:
    When you smoked, it was normal to take breaks throughout the day to have a cigarette. Now that you've quit smoking, you can and should still take those breaks. They will help you relax, and maintain your sanity in the early stages of nicotine withdrawal.
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  7. 7
    Focus on the Present:
    Some people tend to get stressed out worrying about the future, whether they'll manage to keep their promise to quit smoking, or thinking about bills. Worry does nothing to change circumstance. Only action does that. So take the action to relax, and not stress out over things you can't change until later.
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  8. 8
    Eat Good Food:
    Just because you've quit smoking doesn't mean you have to eat terrible foods. Reward yourself, but do it with portion control. Eat a single serving size bag of chips, and slowly savor each chip. Doing this will make you feel better, and reward your body with an energy boost. This is also a great way to help battle cravings.
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  9. 9
    Take Care of Problems:
    If there is a problem, deal with it. Take a hard look at what you can change when something is wrong, and take positive steps to change it. This will help keep you focused, and eliminate needless worry. Any time you are actively engaged in doing something, you're less likely to be worrying about your problems.
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  10. 10
    Talk to Friends and Family:
    Stress can build up, and when we don't talk it out, it can come out in unpleasant outbursts. Let your stress out a little at a time by talking with people who you can trust, and who care. This will contribute to relaxing you, and making you feel better about things.
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  11. 11
    Mentally Scan Yourself for Tension:
    Your body can hold stress in places you might not even think of. Check yourself, and see if you have unusually tight shoulders, or other tight areas. If you do, consider getting a massage, or stretching to work out some of that tension. These areas get tense and build up toxins, which can make you feel bad. Fixing this problem will help you feel better and more relaxed.
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  12. 12
    Visualize a Better Place:
    This may sound silly to some people, but it works. Close your eyes, and just imagine that you're in a better place, free of stress. It can be a favorite place you've visited, or one you've only imagined visiting. The important thing is that you focus on relaxing and feeling better. Do this for three to five minutes. You'll find that it helps to relax your mind and relieve stress.
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American Quit Line to Help You Stop Smoking

  • You can call 1-877-448-7848, and you'll be connected to a hotline with counselors at the National Cancer Institute.
  • Available from 8:00 morning to 8:00 evening (08:00-20:00), Monday through Friday, from any location in America.
  • You can call 1-800-784-8669, and you'll be transferred to the quit smoking hotline for your state.
  • Availability and hours may vary from state to state. Call for details.
  • There are also coaches and clinics in many areas of the United States, where you can free professional help to quit smoking.
  • Information is always confidential, and coaches are professionally trained, and will not judge you.
  • For information online, visit Smokefree Government Website.

Australian Quit Line to Help You Stop Smoking

  • All you have to do is call 13 7848.
  • Available from 8:00 morning to 8:00 evening (08:00-20:00), Monday through Friday, from any location in Australia.
  • It's confidential, and you don't have to give any personal information.
  • TTY is also supported, just call 13 3677, ask for 13 7848.
  • Users of Speak and Listen can call 1300 555 727, and ask for 13 7848.
  • Users of Internet Relay can reach out to the NRS, and ask for 13 7848.

Canadian Quit Line to Help You Stop Smoking

  • Just call 1-877-513-5333 to be connected to the
  • Hours of operation are Monday – Thursday: 8:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m. EST, Friday: 8:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. EST, and Saturday – Sunday: 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. EST. Be sure to check your time zone.
  • Help is available in English and French, or more than 100 languages with the help of an interpreter.
  • Counselors are professionally trained, non-judgmental, and ready to help you now.
  • Additional information is available through the Canadian Smokers' Helpline.

European Quit Lines to Help You Stop Smoking

The European Network for Smoking and Tobacco Prevention has 34 member coalitions.

Each member coalition has different support networks and help available. Please select your country from the list below, and follow the link for additional support. Note that some of these sites will direct to the native language when an English version of the site is not available.

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German Quit Line to Help You Stop Smoking

  • Call free, at 06221 / 42 42 00
  • Hours of operation are from Monday through Friday 14:00 to 17:00.
  • You can also call the Federal Centre for Health Education at 01805 313131 (charges are from $0.14 per minute and up, with a different rate for mobile services).
  • More information is available online in German, from the German Cancer Research Center.

South African Quit Line to Help You Stop Smoking

United Kingdom Quit Line to Help You Stop Smoking

There are several services available in the United Kingdom, and individual services as well.

NHS Go Smokefree

  • Simply call 0800 169 0 169 to get started.
  • Hours of operation from Monday through Friday at 9am to 8pm, and Saturday through Sunday at 11am to 5pm.
  • Help is also available in Bengali (0800 169 0 885), Gujarati (0800 169 0 884). Hindi (0800 169 0 883), Punjabi (0800 169 0 882), and Urdu (0800 169 0 881).
  • For additional information online, visit [ NHS UK Smokefree].
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NHS Pregnancy Smoking Helpline

  • Call 0800 169 9 169 to be connected.
  • Hours of operation from Monday through Friday at 9am to 8pm, and Saturday through Sunday at 11am to 5pm.
  • Additional online help available [ Click on 'chat to an Advisor'].
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UK QUIT Hotline

  • Contact QUIT at 0800 00 22 00
  • Hours of operation are from Monday through Friday at 9am to 8pm, and through Saturday and Sunday at 10am to 6pm.
  • Help is also available in Arabic (0800 169 1300 - Saturdays), Bengali (0800 00 22 44 - Mondays), Gujarati (0800 00 22 55 - Tuesdays), Hindi (0800 00 22 66 - Wednesdays), Punjabi (0800 00 22 77 - Thursdays), and Urdu (0800 00 22 88 - Sundays).
  • Additional information can be found online at [ QUIT UK].
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UK QUIT Workplace Help

  • QUIT also helps young people and workplace people quit.
  • Call them at 020 7469 0400 for additional details.

Northern Ireland QUIT Smoking Hotline

  • Call 0800 85 85 85 for the Northern Ireland NHS Stop Smoking Line.

Scotland QUIT Smoking Hotline

  • Call 0800 84 84 84 for the Scotland NHS Stop Smoking Line.

Wales QUIT Smoking Hotline

  • Call 0800 169 0 169 for the Wales NHS Stop Smoking Line.
  • Call 0800 085 2219 for the Wales Smoking Cessation Service.

If You Are Feeling Depressed You Should Get Help Now

Depression is a serious problem that only a professional can diagnose and treat.

For some people, the positive changes and steps discussed in this article aren't enough. Others may simply not feel that they can connect with their support network. As a result they can feel melancholy, down, and in the worst cases, even depressed. While this article will has focused on things you can do to help feel better and fight off the blues, depression is another matter entirely. It's why we suggest counseling. A professional can identify the symptoms of depression, and help you get through it, either with advice, or medications.

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Contact a support line now for help with depression.

These calls are free of charge, and don't require personal information. You can get help.

The depression hotlines listed below can provide immediate assistance, and also help you find professional help. Don't wait if you're feeling depressed. It's a serious matter that requires immediate attention.

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  • Australia in English: 1800 18 7263
  • Canada in English and French: 1-866-531-2600
  • United Kingdom in English: 0300 123 3393 or 0845 767 8000
  • United States in English: 1−800−273−8255
  • United States en Español: 1−888−628−9454
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Article Citations and References for Managing Emotions

The following articles, government sites, and medical journals were used in this guide.


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