The moment a smoker begins to withdrawal from nicotine, they become cranky, irritable and unpleasant to be around. Abstain for too long and they get outright angry. Quit smoking altogether, and well, they become a raging pain in the A$$.
It isn’t the mood swings, irritability and anger that cause a quit to fail, but rather, the quitter’s lack of preparedness and planning.
When you quit smoking, you are going to become more of a grouch than ever before. When you quit smoking, tremendous physiological changes occur within the brain, most of which are unpleasant, annoying and extremely frustrating.
The mood swings we feel when recovering from nicotine addiction are intrinsically connected to our cravings and they are both very predictable side effects of the healing process. They are also one of the more common reasons people use to avoid, delay or abandon a quit smoking campaign.
After all, the increased aggression and frustration is not only going to affect the quitter, but those within the quitters circle as well. Surely this is a valid reason to continue smoking, isn’t it?
The fact is, it isn’t the mood swings, irritability and anger that cause a quit to fail, but rather, the quitter’s lack of preparedness and planning around how to effectively manage this aspect of their quit smoking campaign.
Every ex smoker had to suffer through intense mood swings as they healed from nicotine addiction. Irritability and mood swings are not a justifiable reason to continue smoking.
By coming up with effective strategies to manage the anger, frustration and anxiety, a smoker can heal and become a calm, happy ex smoker.
Managing Irritability and Mood Swings when Quitting Smoking.
Discuss in advance, your quit smoking campaign with loved ones and anyone who will be affected by it.
It is not uncommon for an ex smoker to find him or herself getting angry over the most trivial of things. The journey an ex smoker undertakes when quitting smoking is a long and tedious one, with many ups and downs.
Mood swings mimic cravings and they will peak and trough in the same manner. It is not unusual to see an ex smoker rapidly shift from being calm and happy, to being agitated and angry. It is critical the ex smoker, and those within their social and professional spheres, are prepared for this.
It is best to avoid conflict as much as possible and quickly diffuse any situations that may lead to angry outbursts. This means swallowing pride for all involved. Never press a smoker who is in the thick of quitting, even if the intent is good.
In many cases, saying nothing is better than saying something. Just as cravings pass, so too will the mood swings.
Create as much a personal space as possible, especially during the early stages.
Mood swings and irritability are at their worst during the first stage of chemical withdrawal. Many smokers make the mistake of trying to continue with their everyday lives when they first quit. A nicotine addict needs space and time alone to successfully navigate this process.
Nicotine withdrawal is a personal and private battle. It is advantageous to treat it as such.
Take time off work and spend the first few days as alone and “out of the way” as possible. If you have a partner or family, see if an arrangement can be made where they can spend some time away.
Family, especially children, no matter how much you love them, can seriously get on a quitter’s nerves and create anxiety. It is important to acknowledge that this is not the fault of the loved ones and simply a part of the process.
Having a “retreat” for loved ones such as a close relative or friend that is easily accessible can also be very advantageous.
Get a daily dose of physical exercise.
Daily exercise is extremely beneficial for the mind. It helps hasten the healing process and strengthens the brain. Physical exercise also releases positive endorphins into the brain which go along way to improving mood. Start by committing to a daily twenty minute walk.
Consider visits to a paid therapist.
Having a professional in your corner can really make a difference. Even if only for the sake of sorting out all that excess baggage we carry during our transition to a new and improved life. A professional therapist can also help you to come up with effective strategies in managing behavioural change.
Keep an eye on other factors that may cause mood swings.
Insomnia, depression, caffeine and alcohol addiction can all lead to severe mood swings and irritability. It is not uncommon for smokers to be affected by such conditions and when a smoker quits, these conditions will likely worsen.
If you suffer or begin to suffer from these ailments, you would do well to talk to a health professional and address them separately.