Balance, Behavioral Medicine, Cognitive Reframing, Cognitive Restructuring, Great American Smokeout, Health & Wellness, Human Performance, Hypnosis, Magic, Mind-Body, Positive Attitude, Professional Counseling, Reiki, Self-care, Smoking Cessation, Stress Management

What Does Stress Management Have To With Quitting Smoking? – EVERYTHING!

Gary L. Flegal, Ph.D.
Dr. Gary Flegal
“Call me today for help to quit smoking.”

Of the smoking cessation clients with whom I have worked, stress is the number one reason people report for why they smoke. Clients have said, “Smoking . . .

  • . . . helps me relax.”
  • . . . makes me feel better.”
  • . . . helps me unwind.”
  • . . . helps me slow down.”
  • . . . reduces my stress.”

These representative responses can all be summed up as, “Smoking helps me manage stress.”

This is such a persuasive argument for continuing to smoke that it has kept many smokers convinced of its “truthfulness” for years, even in light of proof-positive research that absolutely exposes smoking for what it is — the number one preventable cause of premature death and illness — one of the ultimate stressors of choice in our society.

Smoking Cigarette

“Nicotine is more addictive than cocaine and heroin. Only the tobacco industry refutes that nicotine is an addictive drug and that tobacco-use is the major cause of heart disease and cancer.” Gary L. Flegal, Ph.D.

Why are so many people fooled into believing that smoking helps them manage stress? To answer that, we need a better understanding of what a nefarious drug nicotine truly is. Smoking tobacco:

  • increases heart rate (makes the heart work harder).
  • increases blood pressure (makes the heart work harder).
  • constricts arteries, increasing possibility for a blood clot to form (and makes the heart work harder).
  • increases “clot-forming” ability or stickiness of blood cells.
  • reduces oxygen-carrying ability of blood cells.
  • reduces circulation to extremities (feet, hands).


  • stimulates the hypothalamus, the part of the brain sometimes referred to as the “Pleasure Center.”

All of these symptoms are caused by smoking, and they are all symptoms of stress.

Once the pleasure center has been kicked into over-drive, the brain tells itself, “Wow! I’m feeling better — relaxed,” and proceeds to convince the mind/body to ignore all of the stress-related symptoms. But in reality, nicotine is a stimulant — offering no possibility for “true” relaxation — only the self-delusion of relaxation provided by one of the brain’s most primitive information-processing centers.


“Absolute proof” that links smoking to diseases does not exist. To get such proof, non-smoking human subjects would have to be randomly assigned to two different groups, smokers and non-smokers. The subjects would then be studied to see the different rates at which disease developed. This study will never be done because it is immoral to knowingly endanger the lives of human subjects by exposing them to known carcinogens. Gary L. Flegal, Ph.D.

SO . . . what if you could learn real stress management techniques that could actually provide stress reduction instead of the pseudo-stress reduction provided by smoking? And what if those same techniques could also give you the power to reduce your urges to smoke as you go through withdrawal from nicotine? This is what relaxation response training and cognitive restructuring training are designed to do.

If you are ready to:

  • give your body the opportunity to heal,
  • be in greater control of yourself, instead of being controlled by a drug,
  • experience true relaxation instead of “fake” relaxation,
  • finally deal with the addiction that has held you in its grasp for so long,

Here is the real thing. Contact your Holistic Health Practitioner and get the help you deserve.

“But it will cost me money!” you say. Yes, it will, but you are already spending it on smoking. You will simply reallocate what you are spending to learn some skills and techniques that will save you money and improve your health and the over-all quality of your life.

Stress & Great American Smokeout 2012

Click on image for a Free Download to help you Quit Smoking.

Soon you will reclaim your birthright as a non-smoker and be saving the money you have been burning up in smoke for so long. Don’t wait! Do it today.

Be good to you!

Copyright © 2012 by Gary L. Flegal, Ph.D.

Dr. Gary Flegal is a Behavioral Medicine and Health Specialist with a doctorate in “Health Education and Human Performance” from Michigan State University. He is an exciting and accomplished presenter and keynote speaker, presenting seminars for groups and companies on location and at conventions. His advanced training in stress management came to him while working in affiliation with the original Mind/Body Medical Institute at Harvard under the direction of Herbert Benson, M.D. and his staff. In addition to corporate presentations, Dr. Flegal keeps a busy schedule working with individual clients for a variety of stress-related issues, including anger management, quitting smoking, learning to relax and manage stress, and learning self-hypnosis.

Dr. Flegal’s other passion is magic. He has been a professional magician for over 30 years and continues practicing his art at every opportunity. These two passions work together beautifully as he illustrates stress management concepts with fun, visual, and “magical” demonstrations in his stress management workshops and seminars. It also allows him to share stress management with his magic audiences wherever he goes because “Laughter is the Best Medicine!” Gary also possesses Master level training in Reiki, a hands-on healing therapy. Gary Flegal is also a Certified Consulting Hypnotist, certified by the National Guild of Hypnotists.

Dr. Flegal’s specialties include stress management, anger management, positive behavior change, insomnia, smoking cessation, and exercise physiology. For individual appointments, speaking engagements, or more information, contact Gary at Professional Stress Management Services in Nashville, Tennessee, at (615)812-7280 or through his Web site:




  1. Pingback: Stress – The Epidemic of the 21st Century « Gary L. Flegal, Ph.D. - November 1, 2012

Posts by Dr. Gary Flegal

October 2012


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Stress can cause severe health problems if not managed properly. In extreme cases stress can lead to physical symptoms which can even cause death. While stress management techniques have been shown to have a positive effect on reducing stress, the information on this website is for guidance only. Readers should seek the advice of suitably qualified health professionals if they have any concerns over stress-related illnesses or if stress is causing significant or persistent unhappiness. Health professionals should also be consulted before any major change in diet or levels of exercise.
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