In a recent study published by the British Medical Journal, researchers set out to determine if quitting smoking had additional benefits for mental health beyond the physical benefits already established.

Current, popular belief among smokers is that continuing smoking helps alleviate stress and promotes mental well-being. However, this is not likely the case. Among the individuals surveyed for the study, the majority of them indicated an overall improvement of anxiety, depression, and stress after they quit smoking. Positive quality of life and increased positivity were higher among individuals who quit smoking than those who continued.

While the researchers point out that the study merely observed individuals, and the information cannot be used to determine the cause and effect on a physical level, it is generally believed that quitting smoking is a net positive for both physical health and mental wellness. Our culture may be able to use this information to create additional incentives for smokers to stop smoking if they can promote the positive mental health benefits. There are a few steps to follow to start the process of quitting.

Identify your triggers

You may find that you smoke more when you’ve been drinking alcohol or after a meal. You may smoke to cope with stress triggers. Keep a journal of all of your cravings so you can better identify these feelings and respond in a healthier way.

Choose a date to quit

It is okay to give yourself a little time to prepare for the experience. Choose a time that may make it easier to stick to the plan.

Talk about your plan

Being accountable can help you stick to your guns when you quit. Talk to your friends, family, and coworkers about your plan and ask for their support and encouragement.

Anticipate challenges

Many individuals who quit smoking start again within just a few days. You can mitigate this challenge by anticipating things that may come up to trigger your need to smoke again.

Get rid of temptation

Don’t hold on to an emergency pack. Throw away or destroy every package of cigarettes from your home, your work, or your car. Eliminate any trace of them by washing linens or thoroughly detailing your car’s interior.

Get medical help

Quitting smoking is challenging. If it weren’t, more people would do it. Don’t be afraid to talk to your doctor about products or programs that can help you. Patches or gum have helped a number of former smokers kick the habit.

Do you want to know more about quitting smoking to maintain a more positive mental outlook?

Image by Ronald Peret via Flickr

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