Mood changes reflect ‘growing pains’ of changing your life

One topic that I think is important to cover when talking about stopping tobacco use is mood. Most people find mood changes occur frequently when first quitting and sometimes even severely enough to cause problems.

In fact, many remark that when they quit they “just don’t feel like themselves.” Some people believe that they become a “mean person” when they quit, or that their whole personality is altered. In many cases, this is symptomatic of the change process itself.

Before you ever started using tobacco, it felt “normal” not to smoke. Once you started to smoke on a regular basis, you began to identify with being a smoker. Over time, you got used to the behaviors and attitudes that surround it — both your own and those of the world around you.

After using tobacco for an extended period of time, it may now feel like it is a part of who you are. So it is not uncommon when quitting to not “feel like yourself” for a while. But with time you will gradually begin to feel “normal” again as a non-smoker.

Changes in mood can be a symptom of withdrawal. These symptoms may include irritability, anxiousness, frustration, nervousness, anger and depression. Some of these symptoms can be offset by proper use of medications to help you quit.

However, there is still the emotional attachment to the cigarette that needs to be acknowledged and addressed. You may experience feelings of fear, resentment, anger, and even grief from the loss. These are normal responses to making a change of this magnitude, to giving up that “old friend.”

I want to emphasize that these mood fluctuations are temporary and are a result of your changing life. They are not personality characteristics or in any way a permanent condition. It is important to be aware of the potential for these ups and downs and realize that they are transitional — this is just a part of the “growing pains” of change.

It is also important to prepare ways to manage this emotional ebb and flow when interacting with others. One approach is to let people know in advance that you are quitting and how they can support you. It can also help to structure time alone during the first phase of quitting or plan to be away from typical stressors that could exacerbate a bad mood. Getting a few days or weeks of quitting “under your belt” before taking on tasks or situations you know could negatively impact your temper can be effective in avoiding relapse.

What are some of the feelings you have when quitting or even just thinking about giving up tobacco? When you’ve gone through other challenging periods in your life, how have you managed the mood changes? How do you get “re-centered” and put yourself into a better frame of mind when you are riding an emotional roller coaster? If this is something you haven’t developed yet, consider seeking help in finding effective strategies to manage your mood during tough times. Think about ways that you can apply new strategies or helpful skills from the past to quitting smoking now.

Here is some tips to help you stop smoking [click here]

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