By Peach Corrigan
It’s well-known that smoking exacerbates the risks when it comes to chronic conditions, including cancer and heart disease. This is one of the reasons why our post ‘To Improve Your Personal Life Stop Doing These’ points out that quitting smoking is strongly recommended. Smoking is likewise associated with the development of depressive disorders. More specifically, self-esteem is another important psychological factor that underscores the need to quit smoking. Case in point, 38 % of smokers in the United Kingdom said they experience high anxiety and low levels of happiness. These individuals also cited decreased self-worth as a result of smoking, which can lead to poor body image and plunge one’s self-confidence.
All in all, it’s evident that smoking can become a detriment to your self-esteem. Below, this article will expound more on how this manifests, as well as the steps you can take to build your self-esteem back up.
1. Smoking worsens depressive symptoms such as self-criticism
As stated above, the link between smoking and mental health has long since been documented. Recently, findings from a UK Biobank report showed that Brits who smoke experience higher levels of self-criticism. This is mostly because cigarette smoking has been linked to heightened feelings of paranoia and anxiety. Details concerning work, family, or friends, no matter how tiny, are, thus, more likely to be picked apart. For instance, when you feel less sociable and fail to sustain healthy relationships, it can fuel negative self-talk. That said, one way to boost your self-esteem is by surrounding yourself with a strong circle of external support. Specifically, spend more time with loved ones who make you feel good about yourself and discourage your smoking habits.
2. Smoking negatively impacts your gums and teeth
Tobacco cigarettes are a risk factor for the development of wrinkles.
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Recently, a survey by the Oral Health Foundation found that 51% of Brits consider their teeth a point of insecurity, and this can be worse among smokers. The chemicals found in tobacco cigarettes can cause the melanin in your gums and lips to darken, ultimately resulting in uneven pigmentation. A recent Prilla write-up explains that this is because combustibles and vapour devices are used orally. When tobacco is combined with oxygen this also leads to a yellow discolouration on your teeth. These signs of smoking can lead you to become self-conscious about your face, or even the way you smile. One recourse you can take is to utilise nicotine replacement products that prevent stains. Nicotine pouches, for example, are discreet in that they don’t discolour your teeth nor produce foul-smelling odours. Similarly, nicotine patches are products that are easily applied to the skin, so you don’t have to worry about them affecting your gums or teeth. Looking after these bodily features prevents feelings of self-consciousness and boosts your self-esteem.
3. Smoking contributes to skin wrinkles and premature ageing
Tobacco cigarettes are a risk factor for the development of wrinkles. In a 2022 PEC Innovation study titled ‘UK women smokers’ experiences of an age-progression smoking cessation intervention,’ participants mentioned that the presence of wrinkled skin damaged their body image and reduced their confidence. So on that note, apart from using nicotine replacement products, consider investing in skin care products that include youth-boosting ingredients like ceramides and retinoids. Taking great care of your skin can not only minimise the effects of smoking, it can likewise leave you feeling more positive about your overall appearance. Over time, even the practice of daily self-care can improve your personal satisfaction and encourage the adoption of more wellness activities.
4. Smoking can cause body pain, and subsequently, decrease your self-confidence
Smoking not only increases the risk of harmful diseases, it can also lead to chronic issues like body pain. In a survey on how smoking and pain intersect, British respondents shared that their smoking habit caused them to feel bodily pain often. Now, although surprising to hear, there is actually a link between bodily pain and self-esteem. A 2021 BMC Psychology article found that individuals who feel persistent body pain have substantially low self-esteem scores. Thankfully, one of the strategies that allowed them to manage their pain, and consequently helped improve their confidence, was exercise. That said, it’s recommended that you incorporate physical activity into your daily routine to enhance your self-esteem. Aerobic exercises such as running or cycling are enjoyable workouts that allow you to get some fresh air as well.
Peach Corrigan is a freelance writer who specialises in health-focused content. She firmly believes that conversations around mental health should be destigmatised. In her spare time, she enjoys reading non-fiction and playing with her two cats.”
The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect all or some of our beliefs and policy. Any links on this page do not necessarily mean they have been endorsed by Defying Mental Illness.
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