Why Smoking a Cigar After a Stressful Day?

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After a long, stressful day, it can be tempting to reach for a cigar to help unwind and relax. The ritual of selecting, prepping, and slowly smoking a cigar offers a comforting escape and a chance to decompress. But is lighting up a cigar actually a wise choice for stress relief? This article will examine the potential benefits and drawbacks of smoking a cigar after a stressful day.

The Appeal of the Post-Work Cigar

There are several reasons why someone may find the idea of smoking a nice cigar appealing after a tough day:

  • It provides a ritualistic break – The process of selecting the right cigar, clipping and lighting it, requires focus and allows one to momentarily shift attention away from work stress.
  • It forces you to slow down – Unlike quickly smoking a cigarette, puffing on a cigar requires patience and deliberation. This enforced deceleration offers a counter to a stressful day full of urgency.
  • It offers time for reflection – A long, relaxing smoke provides an opportunity for quiet contemplation and processing the events of the day.
  • It activates the senses – The taste, aroma, and tactile sensations of smoking a cigar engage the senses in a pleasurable and mindful way.
  • It facilitates camaraderie – Lighting up a stogie offers a shared experience and time for easy conversation with colleagues or friends.
  • It denotes celebrating – Lighting up a cigar is seen as marking an occasion, achievement, or milestone. It can be a symbolic start to relaxing after success.
  • It evokes nostalgia – For some, cigars may evoke fond memories, perhaps of comparing them with a past mentor or family member. This nostalgia can provide comfort.
  • It signifies rewarding oneself – Choosing to enjoy a fine cigar allows one to deliberately indulge in an affordable luxury after hard work.

With so many potential benefits tied to smoking a cigar after work, it’s easy to see the appeal. But are there downsides to consider as well?

Examining the Health Risks

While an occasional cigar may seem like the perfect way to unwind and de-stress, it’s important to keep in mind that cigar smoking does carry legitimate health risks:

  • While not inhaled like cigarettes, cigar smoke is held in the mouth where nicotine is absorbed through the lining of the mouth. This can lead to nicotine addiction.
  • Cigars contain many of the same carcinogenic compounds found in cigarettes, and long-term smoking is linked to an increased risk of several cancers including oral, esophageal, lung, and larynx.
  • Daily cigar smoking increases the risk of heart disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
  • Heavy cigar use can lead to increased inflammation and cloth thickness in arteries which may increase the possibility of vascular disease.
  • Cigars often contain higher concentrations of tar, tobacco-specific nitrosamines, and carbon monoxide than cigarettes. Over time this exposes the smoker to a considerable toxic load.
  • Male cigar smokers have a higher risk of developing erectile dysfunction.
  • Second-hand cigar smoke exposes non-smokers to hazardous chemicals that can be especially dangerous for children and the elderly.

While most research focuses on the effects of long-term, daily usage, even occasional cigar smoking carries risks such as:

  • Increased risk of oral cancers. The intensity of cigar smoke held in direct contact with the mouth escalates the damage to delicate oral tissues.
  • Risk of nicotine overdose. Occasional smokers are more prone to feel nauseated or dizzy if they accidentally overindulge while smoking a robust cigar.

So while the risks are reduced for those who smoke cigars infrequently, it does not eliminate them entirely. Even second-hand smoke exposure from the occasional cigar can be concerning.

Moderation and Harm Reduction

Rather than depriving oneself of an occasional cigar, there are ways to mitigate the risks while still enjoying a post-work smoke in moderation:

  • Avoid inhaling. Retain smoke in the mouth, not the lungs.
  • Select smaller, narrow ring gauge cigars. Cigars classified as “Coronas” or “Petit Coronas” are generally lower in nicotine and tar.
  • Pick cigars with lighter wrappers like Connecticut shade-grown. These contain fewer tobacco-specific nitrosamines than darker Maduro wrappers.
  • Smoke after a meal. Food can serve as a protective lining for the mouth from harsh smoke.
  • Brush and floss after smoking. Remove any residue and minimize oral exposure.
  • Do not smoke every day. Limit cigar smoking only to special occasions to minimize health risks.
  • Avoid combining with alcohol or other substances. Pair with water or caffeine-free tea instead.
  • Opt for nicotine-free cigars. Yes, there are some available! They offer the ritual with greatly reduced risks.

So by carefully selecting only an occasional, carefully chosen cigar, smoked mindfully and moderately, one may reap the relaxation benefits while minimizing health risks.

Alternatives to Consider

If health risks are a top concern, it is wise to consider substituting an alternative relaxing ritual after a stressful day:

  • Savor a warm non-caffeinated tea mixed with honey or milk for a soothing effect.
  • Take a hot shower or bath with pleasant music or a meditation app playing to unwind.
  • Go for a walk outdoors and consciously clear your mind while taking in fresh air.
  • Listen to a podcast or soothing music with noise-canceling headphones to shift focus.
  • Prepare a healthy, delicious evening meal. Cooking engages the senses.
  • Call a close friend or family member and talk through your day to process events.
  • Write thoughts and reflections down in a journal to achieve perspective and release tension.
  • Practice breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation, or guided imagery to activate the relaxation response.
  • Engage in light yoga or tai chi to reduce muscle tension and circulate stagnant energy.
  • Get a massage if possible. Human touch releases endorphins and reduces cortisol.
  • Try an aromatherapy diffuser with soothing essential oils like lavender.

Rather than defaulting to a cigar, considering alternative ways to unwind that don’t carry health risks is prudent. That said, an occasional cigar may have a place in an overall lifestyle of moderation and balance.

Conclusion

Aiming for a healthy work-life balance often means finding ways to unwind and detach after draining days. For some, smoking a nice cigar seems the perfect ritual to transition into relaxation. However, cigars do expose smokers to very real, well-documented health hazards. While the occasional, mindful cigar may offer benefits, it is wise to weigh risks versus relaxation when making choices. With so many alternatives available for relaxation, reevaluating rituals through a health-conscious lens is recommended. Prioritizing overall well-being with intention allows for work stress relief without incurring significant health risks from substances. With prudence, even traditions like an evening cigar can potentially be enjoyed in moderation.