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Manage Smoking Withdrawal Symptoms with These Tips

  • Category: LiveSmart
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  • Written By: Baldwin

Man breaking a cigarette

Quitting smoking is hard, but these 9 tips can make it easier for you to stay smoke-free.

When you quit smoking, it's common to have withdrawal symptoms. That's because your body and brain have to get used to not having a continual supply of nicotine, since nicotine is a drug your body craves.

Withdrawal symptoms may be uncomfortable, but they won't hurt you. And over time, your symptoms will fade. In the meantime, having a few tricks up your sleeve to deal with withdrawal symptoms can give you a leg up on staying nicotine-free forever. Give these tried-and-true tips a try – you have nothing to lose and everything to gain by staying smoke-free!

9 Tips to Manage Smoking Withdrawal Symptoms

  1. Keep busy. Staying busy and finding ways to distract yourself can make it less likely you'll reach for a cigarette when cravings rear their ugly head.
  2. Be physically active. Not only will physical activity keep you distracted (it's hard to smoke a cigarette when you're exercising), but it will also ease stress, reduce jumpiness and help you sleep. Plus, you may notice that it's easier to breathe and do things than it used to be when you smoked, which may give you the incentive you need to keep going.
  3. Spend time with people who don't smoke. You don't need to give up your friends who smoke, but if you hang around with friends who don't smoke while you're experiencing initial withdrawal symptoms, you're less likely to give in and light up.
  4. Think of why you want to quit. Most people have a reason they want to quit, whether it's to be healthier, save money or appear more attractive. Whatever your reason, remind yourself why you want to quit when the going gets tough.
  5. Cut yourself some slack. In the first days after you quit, you may feel irritated, restless, jumpy, distracted or may find it hard to concentrate. This is common as your body adjusts to not smoking, so give yourself a break and realize that these feelings will go away soon.
  6. Avoid triggers. Most people have certain activities or places they associate with smoking. Do your best to steer clear of these triggers as much as possible as you learn to navigate through life without smoking.
  7. Find substitutes. If you feel the need to put something in your mouth or hold something in your hand, find substitutes for cigarettes. Some people chew gum or suck on a lollipop. You may want to twirl a pen in your hand to keep your fingers busy.
  8. Use a medication to help you quit smoking. Over-the-counter and prescription stop-smoking aids can lessen the cravings you'll undoubtedly feel after you quit. This allows you to slowly reduce the amount of nicotine in your body so you're not quitting cold turkey.
  9. Change your focus. Rather than focusing on negative symptoms of withdrawal, write down each benefit you've experienced since you quit. Keep track of how much money you've saved, how much more stamina you have, how many compliments you've gotten and other positive aspects of your quit journey.

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Date Last Reviewed: September 21, 2023

Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor

Medical Review: Perry Pitkow, MD

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