Lifestyle and home remedies

By Mayo Clinic Staff

It's important to have a plan for managing nicotine withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal symptoms are usually the most intense during the first week after you stop smoking. They may continue for several weeks, with declining intensity.

Although most nicotine withdrawal symptoms pass within a month, you may occasionally experience a strong urge or craving to smoke months after stopping. Triggers or cues that were associated with your smoking can provoke these urges or cravings.

Here's what you can do to help manage nicotine withdrawal symptoms:

  • Exercise regularly. Regular physical activity has been found to reduce withdrawal symptoms and help people stop smoking. Exercise also helps avoid potential weight gain often associated with stopping.
  • Wait out cravings. Cravings or urges usually last less than five minutes. Wash the dishes, go for a walk or have a healthy snack, such as carrots, an apple or sunflower seeds, which will keep your mouth busy. Pursue something that keeps your hands busy, and before you know it, the urge will have passed. Make sure you get rid of tobacco supplies when you decide to quit. Don't save a just-in-case pack.
  • Identify rationalizations. If you find yourself thinking, "I'll just smoke one to get through this tough time" or "Just one won't hurt," recognize it as a message that can derail your plan. Review your reasons for quitting, and replace that thought with something positive to support your stopping.
  • Talk to a support person. If you're feeling anxious or depressed or need encouragement, a support person can help you get through a difficult craving.
  • Avoid high-risk situations. Know your triggers, and stay away from people, places and situations that tempt you to smoke.
  • Be realistic about the energy and time it takes to stop smoking. Adjust your schedule to a lighter workload. Take time to do something fun or simply relax.
  • Eat regular, healthy meals. Include plenty of fruits and vegetables, and drink more water.
June 04, 2013