Fight the urge

Photo of a bunch of carrots

Nicotine replacement can help reduce many of the physical symptoms of withdrawal. But for many smokers, breaking the mental dependence is the hardest part.

How to cope with cravings

  • Keep oral substitutes handy. Try carrots, pickles, sunflower seeds, apples, celery, raisins, or sugarless gum instead of a cigarette.
  • Take 10 deep breaths and hold the last one while lighting a match. Exhale slowly and blow out the match. Pretend it's a cigarette and crush it out in an ashtray.
  • Take a shower or bath if possible to reduce stress.
  • Learn to relax quickly and deeply. Visualize a soothing, pleasing situation and get away from it all for a moment. Concentrate on that peaceful image and nothing else.
  • Light incense or a candle instead of a cigarette.
  • Go swimming, jogging, bike riding. Take the dog for a walk.
  • Do things that require you to use your hands. Try crossword puzzles, needlework, gardening, or household chores. Wash your hands, do the dishes, or try new recipes.
  • Brush your teeth and use mouthwash.
  • Be committed. Never allow yourself to think that "one won't hurt" — it will.

Are you climbing the walls? Try some simple activities to handle the symptoms of withdrawal.
Tempted to try e-cigarettes as an alternative to tobacco? Review the facts first.

Find additional support at the quit smoking classes at our medical facilities. Browse our health classes directory to see what's available at your facility.

If you slip and smoke a cigarette, go easy on yourself. Learn from the experience and recommit yourself to quitting. Get support from others by joining a support group, or talking to friends and family.

Reviewed by: Craig Robbins, MD, November 2018