Here is a post about anger and quitting that may help you better understand this phenomenon:
Remember, nicotine boosts mood so it's not uncommon after quitting to be angry or sad for a short time. Your brain is learning how to once again produce chemicals that are responsible for good mood and this takes time. Combine this with the fact that you may have used smoking as a coping strategy to lessen bad moods and it's no wonder you're having a bit of a tough time!
Please know you are not alone in your struggle but this will likely be a learning experience for you.
- Anger & Quitting -
Afraid to turn into a bear when quitting? Maybe you've quit and it's already happened? Explosive, quick to anger over little things? Unexpected outbursts? You are not alone, but rather one of many.
People in recovery do have ups and downs, and sometimes more downs than ups unless they adopt new ways of coping, none of which happen overnight. We keep saying that quitting is a process. Anger may play an unexpected role for you in this process, and better coping skills need to be developed to deal with this also.
When *many* smokers and dippers quit, they go through changes that require some unmasking. Take anger, for instance: As nicotine addicts, we might have swallowed our anger, or lit up/chewed rather than make a scene when something really irked us. It might have been easier and less stressful than engaging in confrontation about some problem. I'm confident that most smokers and dippers who were "put in their place" can remember exhaling the smoke slowly at some time or other to decompress. They puffed or chewed away for dear life rather than say their piece and end up getting fired from a much-needed job, to offer one example, or be in an in-laws bad books forever, to name another.
In such anger, a nicotine fix became the crutch, the comforter and the savior of sorts, and quite a coping mechanism! (Or so we thought anyway.)
With the giving up (and loss from our lives) of that lifelong 'all-round friend' the cigarette, we literally go through mourning with all its stages, including the stage of sadness and anger. Quitting is a major loss, both physically and psychologically, and in addiction, a quitter will naturally mourn that loss for a little while, until they freely accept the quit and adopt it, just letting go of smoking or chewing.
But besides that mourning, there are also things that can naturally trigger an angry response in a quitter: For instance, typical little things such as finding an empty roll on the toilet paper dispenser, discovering someone's dirty laundry on the floor, coming across dirty dishes in another part of the house, etc., all could NOW send a quitter into that angry zone. When you smoked you might have lit up and maybe said nothing in those situations, maybe even allowed yourself a sigh of exasperation. Now, however, it could send you in a real tailspin. It's demoralizing if you turn into an ogre and don't know how to deal with it.
If so, realize that in this situation, you are resorting to anger in response to a small trigger. You are coping with an irritant by getting angry. Something isn't right here, correct?
Without a nicotine fix, the next irritant to come along might be added to the mental stack of current irritants, until the quitter either learns to deal with them in a new way, or has an outburst.
Dysfunctional anger management? Inadequate communication habits? Quitting is a learning process. In smoking days, some of the time we lit up to cope, and that particular coping avenue is gone now. We have to find other ways.
The same irritants exist as before, but upon quitting, the coping mechanism of old is not there. Some quitters will lash out for a while until they learn what is happening to them and how to deal with it. While they are trying desperately to stay quit and focus their attention on dealing with cravings, they may not be aware right away of some of the other things happening to them.
Sudden anger is unpleasant and scary for the quitter, not to mention your loved ones, friends and co-workers. Quitters and family alike feel helpless for a little while, amazed (and maybe fearful) at what is happening, at how easy anger rises. It can take a couple of weeks and maybe one memorable outburst to really alert you to stop and take an inventory of sorts. As soon as you can, develop adequate strategies. It may take a while to get everything right, but everyone has to begin somewhere. Do not resort to smoking or chewing! There are ways to deal with it.
Gaining control over nicotine addiction involves recovery, which in turn involves self-discovery and self-appreciation, and it is a process of necessary change on many fronts, including how we deal with many things.
A quitter who is angry may realize he/she is stressed to begin with. He should try to reduce his stress level, to reduce the bigger things that normally would not make someone feel really angry about an empty paper dispenser. (Maybe annoyed, but angry?)
Accepting our own limitations and the limitations of others is part of the discovery to be made. We've actually begun. We understand smokers, we now have a soft spot for them, but don't want to be in their shoes any more, and may dislike being near them. We don't want to condemn them. After all we were once really in their shoes.
Take regular, planned timeouts for yourself. Be realistic and honest: How often did you take a break to light up before? 20, 30 times a day? More? For 5 or 10 minutes? That inner regular need for a break to change your thoughts or environment and decompress at regular intervals should not be abandoned altogether, now should it? Pay close attention to this old existing need. Substitute a breathing exercise or something relaxing and self-loving. Set an alarm clock if you need reminding and keep resetting it. Listen to some music perhaps too, or just pick a form of *regular distraction and relaxation*, and do it for a couple of minutes each time. If you take regular 'non-smoking decompression breaks, you may be pleasantly surprised at the results.
Practice relaxation techniques and adopt some into your routine. Successful people really do. Heres a simple breathing exercise when you feel tense: With shoulders back and tummy in, inhale deeply for a slow count of five, exhale for a slow count of five. Do five of these at a time. (You can do this at your computer too)
Each day, reflect on, and study your stress levels. Try to reduce the causes of other high stress in your life if you can, by altering the cause. Look at the cause-s. Much of it may be self-imposed.
* Consider looking for another job, in another line of work, if necessary.
* Learn to say no to the impositions of others. You are presently enrolled in a Quitting Course.
* Don't waste precious energy in criticism of yourself and others. Adopt a Live and Let Live attitude. Focus on your happiness. Anger releases bad hormones into your body. Work on the opposite.
* Put things in perspective.
Value yourself more. Believe that you are really something! Quitting is not for sissies. You may not have arrived yet, but you've left the starting gate. We do appreciate what you're going through. Start pampering and loving yourself, now! Talk positive self-talk to yourself. Some people are too self-critical. Ease up. No one is perfect.
The Canadian Institute of Stress believes that by doing something satisfying or pleasurable, we can take the edge off. This is so important! The reason is that when we are experiencing enjoyment or pleasure, our body is pumping out less adrenalin. If you haven't made that reward plan, better late than never, do it now! (And then when you post your stats, share your rewards in order to inspire others to add to their plan too.)
Until you can control this anger, (what you say, the way you say it, how you react) it's better to take a time out than lose a friend or alienate a loved one. Isolate yourself in the bedroom or washroom until you feel you can control yourself.
Get adequate sleep and rest. Indulge in an afternoon or evening nap. There's nothing like fatigue to make us feel edgy to begin with. In recovery, we need more rest, as every organ in the body is going through some pretty serious adjusting and withdrawal over a few months.
Anger can be managed. Study up on anger management: Get a book from the library, search the Internet, or consider getting professional help.
Improve communication skills. Study up on this too. Get a book from the library. They give classes in this. Lots of fun. Really!
If you are a quitter going through this, please explain to your family and friends that this will pass as you recover. Here's to you!
A little note: If you cannot improve on the sadness and anger, I urge you to discuss this with your physician. The problem may be related to something else and your physician can help you through this.
Hang in there!
Danielle, Bilingual Support Specialist