The Secret to Surviving the 3-Month Dopamine Dip After Quitting Smoking
Many smokers make several attempts before successfully quitting.
The idea that the physical effects of quitting smoking only last for three days, appears to be wrong.
Recent studies have shown that it takes you 3 months to get your dopamine levels back to normal after quitting smoking.
This seems to explain why people experience anger, irritability and depression after they stop consuming nicotine.
So, how can we best tackle these three months filled with irritability, stress, and the potential of depression?
In order to get to this answer, we first need to know the relationship between our dopamine levels and our smoking addiction.
How does smoking affect your dopamine levels?
Our brain has a way of cheering us on when we do things essential for our survival such as eating or bonding with loved ones – it releases a feel-good chemical called dopamine.
Now, when someone smokes a cigarette, this also releases dopamine and causes a similar pleasure feeling. But because this dopamine release is so much stronger than what we naturally experience, the brain begins to want that intense feeling more and more.
And so, the more you smoke, the more the brain links smoking with intense pleasure, making us craving cigarettes even more.
This strong association is how smoking leads to dopamine addiction, making us feel like we need cigarettes as much as we need food and love.
luckily there are is a way to get out of this seemingly endless cycle: Deep-breathing techniques.
How deep breaths can relief you from your addiction
Breathing exercises are a game-changer when you’re in the process of quitting smoking.
Just as with smoking, certain breathing methods can induce the release of dopamine, but in a healthier manner.
The technique involves diaphragmatic breathing, using the large muscle located in your chest.
When activated, it tells your brain to release dopamine, offering a soothing sensation, eliminating the need for a cigarette.
Therefore, despite lower dopamine levels from refraining to smoke, these exercises manage to restore the peace in your system.
But the benefits don’t stop there.
When you are in the process of quitting smoking, feelings of anxiety, stress and depression are amplified.
Engaging in mindful breathing communicates with your brain’s emotional control center, effectively decreasing feelings of anxiety, stress and depression.
What makes these techniques even more appealing?
They help reshape your habits formed from smoking, providing a natural way to feel good, rather than relying on cigarettes.
Regular practice also enhances the connection between your heart and brain, improving your ability to manage emotions.
Are Deep-Breathing Techniques enough to conquer your addiction?
Deep-breathing techniques are a set of exercises designed to engage your diaphragm, the dome-shaped piece of muscle that releases dopamine when activated, located just below your lungs.
They are an excellent tool to naturally manage stress, improve focus, and promote relaxation, especially when you want to succeed in quitting your smoking habit.
In the next sections, we will introduce two of our favourite deep-breathing techniques. Picked based on their simplicity.
Without a doubt, the trickiest part is embedding these methods into your everyday activities.
But keep reading until the end, as we have found the perfect tool that will make your journey a lot smoother.
Square breathing, also known as box breathing, is an ancient breathing method that refocuses your mind.
The unique advantage of this technique is its simplicity.
Here is how you can practice Square Breathing:
- Begin by taking a slow, deep breath, inhaling to the count of four.
- Next, hold your breath for another count of four.
- Then, gently release your breath to the count of four.
- Lastly, pause again and hold for another count of four.
Square breathing not only helps you refocus your mind. It serves as a natural way to boost dopamine levels and overcome cravings, making your journey to a smoke-free life much easier.
Belly breathing, also known as diaphragmatic or abdominal breathing, is a simple yet powerful technique that encourages to use 100% of your lung capacity and can help you slow the heartbeat and stabilise blood pressure.
Here is how you can practice Belly Breathing:
- Position your hands: Place one hand on your chest and the other on your belly. This will allow you to feel the movement of your diaphragm as you breathe.
- Inhale slowly through your nose: Take a slow, deep breath in through your nose. As you breath in, allow your belly to rise under your hand, pushing it outward. Your chest should remain relatively still.
- Exhale slowly: Exhale slowly through your mouth or nose, letting your belly fall naturally. You can imagine the tension in your body leaving with each exhale.
- Repeat the process: Repeat these steps for several minutes until you feel more relaxed.
This technique not only relaxes your body and mind but can also increase the effectiveness of your breathing, which in turn can help you cope in the process of quitting smoking and improve your overall wellbeing.
Remember, the key to successful breathing exercises is patience and consistency. Practicing these steps regularly will greatly aid you in your quitting journey.
How Do You Make Sure You do not Relapse?
As mentioned before; we know it is not always that simple to incorporate regular practice. That is why we are a big fan of this new tool: The Anapana Breathing Necklace.
The Anapana necklace contains of a stainless steel pipe which is carefully designed to slow down your exhalation. Think of it as your personal breathing guide, facilitating deep breathing exercises effortlessly.
We highly recommend the use of this necklace during your quitting journey. It serves dual functions – not only does it assist in regulating your breathing, but when worn, it acts as a constant reminder of the transformative power of breathing. This daily reminder, right around your neck, is a great ally in avoiding relapses, guiding your path towards a smoke-free future.