“But Cigarettes help me to relax,” is a common excuse many smokers come up with when considering to quit smoking cigarettes. It would be understandable if this was true. Why would you stop doing something that helped you chill out at the end of the day, and take the edge off work, and social commitments.
However if it were true, just like drinking excessive alcohol, you would expect inhaling excessive cigarettes to result in dosing off, unconsciousness or passing out. However this isn’t the case. Cigarettes do exactly the opposite; they heighten the senses, and increase agitation of the nervous system. Cigarettes are a stimulant. It’s like trying to relax, by drinking espresso coffees. It just doesn’t work.
The addictive property of a cigarette is nicotine, which acts as a neuro-stimulant, and has an effect on the body within seconds of the first puff. The blood is drawn away from the extremities, skin, toes, fingers and digestive system and into the main arteries causing smokers blood pressure to rise. The inhalation of Carbon Monoxide also reduces the ability of the red blood cells to hold oxygen; this in turn stresses the heart further as it attempts to deliver the required oxygen through the body by pumping faster.
Each and every day smokers go through their day trying to medicate themselves to obtain relaxation by using cigarettes. However any relief obtained is only due to the replacement in their system of the addictive substance nicotine which caused the distress in the first place. The positive feeling is simple the removal of the agitation the nicotine caused as it left the body. This process is often referred to as the smoking spiral. Where the smoker smokes to feel better, but in turns puts more nicotine in their body. The nicotine then begins to leave the body causing a craving to smoke again. And the cycle of behaviour continues.
This spiral reduces agitation caused by nicotine, but does not calm the body, instead it heightens the level of anxiety, and stress. It is rather ironic that the very thing a smoker is attempting to obtain through a cigarette, is actually achieving the exact opposite.
It’s interesting to note that a non-smoker upon having a puff on a cigarette will not feel any positive affect from the cigarette, as they never had any nicotine in their system. Only a smoker who first had nicotine in their body feels any relief.
While the non-smoker wakes up and prepares to go about their day refreshed and energised. The smoker wakes up already anxious from nicotine withdrawal, and begins prioritising their first cigarette of the day.
During the day a non-smoker may experience stress, whether it is a traffic jam, an argument etc, however once the stressful moment has passed the nervous system will naturally calm down and the anxiety diminish over a period of time. However a smoker will experience the situation in an already heighted level of anxiety.
Unlike the non-smoker, the smoker attempts to alleviate the stress by tranquilising the feelings with cigarettes. But we already know what cigarettes do. They actually increase the bodies’ level of agitation.
The only way for a smoker to lessen their anxiety levels is to quit smoking. Over the short term 4-5 days the smoker will experience nicotine withdrawal and heighted levels of agitation. However once this has passed, oxygen levels in the blood stream increase, the heart rate drops along with blood pressure. Free of cravings, toxins and carbon monoxide, the now non smoker can look forward to a healthier life, and increased feelings of well being.