Smoking is the process in which you burn, chew or swallow tobacco that contains the addictive substance nicotine. Nicotine as a substance mimics our common neurotransmitters and actually has the ability to change the brain’s reward system and dopamine production. Because of this, it is only slightly less addictive than heroine (considered the most addictive drug), as addictive as crack cocaine, and more addictive than methadone (a heroine substitute used during heroin users’ detox). Now that we’ve waded through the mire of technical jargon, let’s get into the stuff related to the title.
Anxiety and stress
A University of Wisconsin study followed 572 smokers pre- and post-quitting, and noticed that the smokers that had quit and not smoked again for a year had less “stressful events”, meaning an occurrence that causes the individual unnatural level of stress. The benefit of being able to hold your composure during a critical professional situation helps negotiation, decision making, and interpersonal communication, all of which are crucial in the workplace.
Overall benefit to mental health
There has also been a significant correlation between overall mental health and quitting smoking. Lower levels of anxiety, depression and mood changes were observed in individuals that quit smoking and had not smoked again within a year. Of course, all these factors play into overall motivation, energy levels and general mental wellbeing.
Quality of life
Cigarettes contain a veritable cornucopia of toxic chemicals that the smoker is exposed to while smoking. The body has an inflammatory response to smoking, which is the same reaction it has post-trauma, or post-injury. It is the body’s attempt to protect and repair a part of the body that is injured, but if it is uninjured, inflammation can become self-perpetuating, as in creating an inflammation in response to an existing inflammation. This can result in bodily aches and pains, chronic bronchitis and sore throats. Add to that the daily stresses of work, and you have a perfect recipe for irritability, anxiety and elevated levels of stress.
Smoking can be a very expensive habit; quitting can result in not only numerous health benefits but also many financial benefits. Health insurance for non-smokers is cheaper, and there are further incentives for people that don’t use tobacco products. Although obviously there is a heavy financial burden with the use of tobacco products, people that quit smoking can observe saving in the neighborhood of $2.000 a year (or more, dependent on use). These expenses create further anxiety to an already higher anxiety that smokers possess because of their addiction, resulting in productivity loss and overall demotivation.
Smoking in recent years has become the number one preventable reason for death in developed countries. Something so evidently deadly obviously carries a large and heavy social stigma. People can lose job opportunities, stifle career progress and segregate themselves from their co-workers as a result of their addiction. People might approach you with aversion due to the smell of smoke on your clothes, hands, hair and breath.
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Ironically, I am writing this article, and I am myself a smoker; I have attempted to quit multiple times, but in moments of weak constitution I have picked up the habit again. I will attempt again to quit and one of these attempts will hopefully prove fruitful. If you have dealt with nicotine addiction and successfully kicked the habit, please let us know about your experience, or if you haven’t but tried, let us know, also. Maybe you could inspire others to follow your healthy example.