Smokers believe that smoking is an effective stress reliever. Getting that puff of smoke seems to promote a feeling of calmness that can be very relaxing. That is why smoking has been closely associated with stress. But most people actually do not quite understand how this habit actually affects the body.
Nicotine And The Brain
In order to understand how smoking seems to be an effective stress reliever to many people, it is important to have an understanding on how nicotine affects the brain. Nicotine is the ingredient in cigarettes and cigars that promotes its so-called stress relieving effects. But nicotine seems to do this in quite a sinister way that most people might not expect.
For first time smokers, initial stress relief may come by way of deeply inhaling smoke. Such puffs seem to relax because they can be likened to breathing exercises used in various relaxation techniques. But once nicotine finds its way into the system, it works to promote feelings of calm and relaxation in a different way.
Nicotine is considered as a stimulant. When it reaches the brain, it acts as some sort of a catalyst that stimulates the brain into producing and releasing relaxing chemicals. Each puff releases nicotine that enables the brain cells to release more and more relaxing chemicals. Nicotine can also regulate one’s moods. It may stimulate certain chemical reactions in the brain that makes a smoker feel less nervous and stressed.
Eventually, the more that a person smokes, the more dependent he becomes on nicotine to relieve the stress. In low doses, nicotine acts as a stimulant. But in higher doses, its profile changes as it turns into a sedative in increasing dosages. Over time, the body that has grown accustomed to nicotine would eventually crave for it. The body may then want to maintain a certain level of nicotine in the body to feel calm and relaxed.
If the body experiences a decrease of nicotine level that it normally gets, it then tries to present certain withdrawal symptoms which include anxiety, nervousness and stress. It then becomes the very cause of the symptoms that it was once set to get rid of. The only way to handle the anxious state and the stress is too smoke more in order to get more nicotine into the body. Only then it will feel relaxed and calm once again. In this case the smoking habit has become the cause of stress rather than a means to relieve it due to the addiction to nicotine.