Quit Smoking, Calm Down?

You already know that quitting smoking brings countless health benefits. But you may be surprised to hear that it can make you less anxious — even on your first tobacco-free day. This finding from the University of London runs counter to the stereotype of jittery quitters in the throes of nicotine withdrawal.

The evidence: Researchers surveyed 70 smokers who remained tobacco-free after participating in a smoking cessation program. Anxiety levels were measured with a psychological survey that the subjects took during the weeks before and after they quit. While the smokers’ anxiety levels did increase just before quitting, they decreased during the four weeks that followed. In fact, lower anxiety levels were seen after just the first 24 hours of quitting (American Journal of Psychology, November 1997).

Although many people smoke to calm their nerves, studies show it actually increases a person’s overall anxiety. So it makes sense that kicking the habit helps, say the researchers.

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