If you're lighting up as you're pondering the last piece of the puzzle in improving your mood and mental health, consider making a plan to stop smoking for good. You might think your problems will only worsen when you quit, but it's more likely you'll end up feeling better.

The Link Between Mental Health and Smoking

A 2014 study published in the Psychological Medicine journal found that smokers who reported problems with addiction or their overall mental health in an initial survey were less likely to report those same issues on a follow-up survey three years later if they'd quit smoking.

In the first survey, 40 percent of the 4,800 smokers studied reported they currently had or had a prior history of mood or anxiety disorders. In the second survey, only 29 percent of the respondents who'd quit smoking reported these issues, compared to 42 percent of the people who were still smoking.

It's possible that the former smokers who reported they no longer suffered from mental health issues were more motivated to quit smoking because their mental health had improved during the three years between the surveys. It's also possible that at least some respondents noticed improvements in their mental health because of quitting smoking due to having less financial strain, less social embarrassment, improved physical health or other factors.

4 Tips to Help You Quit Smoking -- Even When You're Anxious or Stressed

While there's no denying there is a physical addiction and withdrawal process when you give up nicotine, learning how to handle stress and anxiety without reaching for a cigarette are some of the hardest hurdles to jump over when you decide to quit smoking. Follow these tips to help you succeed:

  • Keep a close eye on your nutrition and sleep. Irregular meals, unhealthy foods, caffeinated beverages and a lack of sleep can all increase anxiety. Make sure to eat regular, healthy meals and get plenty of shuteye to avoid putting any extra stress on your body and mind when you're quitting smoking. 
  • Get moving. Physical exercise is one of the best ways to help relieve symptoms of anxiety, stress and depression. Plus, it'll help keep your mind occupied on something other than cigarettes. Try going for a walk, dancing, or doing some aerobics when you're craving a cigarette.
  • Practice relaxation techniques. Practicing deep breathing, yoga, or guided meditation can help you calm yourself when you're feeling edgy and stressed. Even simply closing your eyes and taking several long, deep breaths may be enough to get you through a craving.
  • Enlist a support network. Call on family and friends to help remind you of your commitment to quitting smoking or even just to chat or laugh about something completely unrelated to smoking.

If you're having trouble with depression, anxiety or any other mental health symptoms, talk to your doctor or make an appointment with a mental health professional. Proper diagnosis and treatment is crucial to your overall health and well-being.  For more information, contact a counselor like those at  Dr. Stephen Brown & Associates