Man working out

Tips for managing nicotine withdrawal

grey arrows
Nicotine withdrawal is your biggest enemy as you strive to give up smoking. These tips may help you beat the physical and psychological dependence.

The double whammy of quitting

If you're already on your quitting journey, you'll know by now that cravings come in two forms:

  1. The physical dependence on nicotine, causing your body to experience nicotine withdrawal symptoms when you quit smoking. Nicotine replacement therapy can help you manage them.
  2. The psychological side of things, when you miss the feel of a cigarette in your mouth, holding something in your hands, a smoke with your coffee, or just the act of socialising with other smokers.

If you get these feelings, it can be useful to have some distractions that focus your attention on something else for around 15 minutes, to keep you from giving in. Here are some ideas.

Talk to someone

It might sound simple, but taking the time to have a chat with a friend, workmate or Quit Mate helps break up your day and keeps you away from cigarettes. Or you could email or message them.

Take a stroll

If you usually go outside for a cigarette break, walk around the block for a few minutes instead. You'll get a bit of exercise while taking your mind off any cravings.

Exercise your brain

Distract yourself with a game app, a crossword or Sudoku. It'll give your brain something to distract it from craving nicotine.

Practice retail therapy

Organise your weekly food shop or buy a new book or movie online. Having your shopping delivered might help you resist the temptation to buy cigarettes at the supermarket.

Plan a trip to the movies

Catch up with all the latest trailers and whatever's available to stream. It'll take your mind off the cigs for a few minutes, and give you something to look forward to.

Immerse yourself online

Enjoy podcasts, audio books, radio shows and music downloads, or simply catch up with Facebook to distract you for a few minutes.

Think forwards

Get excited about a holiday you're looking forward to, an upcoming wedding or birthday, or even just the weekend ahead, and enjoy living in the future for a moment.

Eat and drink the right stuff

Drink more water, make a herbal tea, and snack on fruit, nuts and seeds. To help overcome cravings you could try Nicabate Patch, Minis or Gum.

Treat yourself

It's okay to allow yourself a few small luxuries, particularly to reward yourself for sticking to quitting. If you enjoy chocolate, a few pieces once or twice a week shouldn't hurt, and it could stop you missing cigarettes.


We're here to support you and hope these suggestions will help take your mind off wanting to light up. Remember, this is your journey and you must own it. The best distractions are the ones that work best for you.