Wellness Wednesday: Quitting Doesn’t Have To Be Stressful

University of Kent Occupational Health and Wellbeing Manager, Brenda Brunsdon

National No Smoking Day, 09 March 2022

Quit Smoking: Get Happy

It is well researched and accepted across all sectors of society that smoking cigarettes is catastrophically bad for a person’s health. 1 in 2 smokers will die of a disease directly linked to their smoking habit. In addition, the effects of smoking cause debilitating diseases that badly affect a smoker’s quality of life in their declining years up to their death; a death which is a lot earlier than their non-smoking friends and relatives.

National No Smoking Day this year focusses on the positive mental health effects of giving up smoking. Smokers make a strong association between their habit and the calming emotional effect they believe it gives them. However, smoking actually promotes anxiety, especially when the brain starts to register that it needs a nicotine hit! There is an unpleasant withdrawal period when one gives up smoking and this does come with feelings of low mood, irritability and anxiety. This withdrawal phase usually lasts for between 2-4 weeks. Once a person is through this, they start to feel mentally less anxious and more balanced emotionally. When I gave up smoking, after about 6 weeks, I remember feeling that I wasn’t always waiting to do something any longer. I realised that I had been perpetually waiting to smoke my next cigarette; it occurred to me that while stubbing out a cigarette, my brain was calculating how long would be the wait until I could get my next fix of nicotine. When a substance has its hooks into you at that level, it is dominating your emotional mood completely.

That’s the reason that a non-smoker’s positive mental health exceeds that of a smoker. It’s also the reason that smokers demonstrate such anxious behaviours. Take a look at the ‘Today Is The Day’ Illustration video below for the link between smoking and anxiety. In addition, there are links below to the BMJ research article on the positive change in mental health after giving up smoking and a YouTube video on the same subject.

Another important message for this year’s No Smoking Day is that quitting doesn’t need to be stressful or painful. It highlights the range of aids that are available nowadays to help smokers quit; see the ‘Today Is The Day’ link below and hit the tab marked ‘Support’ for more information. There are prescription medicines and nicotine replacement therapy in the form of gum, sprays or tablets. The NHS is there to help you. You can even get counselling support; consider using the University’s Employee Assistance Programme telephone support line for help to get you through giving up the evil weed.

Make Today Your Day for Giving Up Smoking and Getting Happy!


‘Today Is The Day’: National No Smoking Day 2021 for advice on support to quit and success stories

‘Stress-free Quitting’: Robert West on ‘Today Is The Day’

‘Today Is The Day’ Illustrative video: shows how smoking causes feelings of negative mental health

‘Change in mental health after smoking cessation: systematic review and meta-analysis’: Gemma Taylor, Ann McNeill,  Alan Girling, Amanda Farley, Nicola Lindson-Hawley, Paul Aveyard, BMJ website

‘Stopping Smoking Linked to Improved Mental Health’: YouTube video, BMJ

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