Nicotine replacement therapy gums on a brown woven mat

You’re on your way to putting out your last cigarette — congrats! You’ve done your homework, and you are ready to quit.

During your quit journey, you may feel urges to smoke: your body is clearing out the nicotine, and in the beginning, you may feel the urge to replenish it.

Don’t worry, this is temporary! Withdrawal symptoms are usually worse in the first week, and generally disappear after two to three weeks.

What can you do to overcome these urges? Have a plan ready! Use the 4Ds to tide over cravings: distract, delay, deep breathing, and drinking water.

Related: Keep It Up! Staying Smoke-Free


Colleagues sitting in a café working and discussing a project

Take your mind off the urge to smoke by doing something else.

At work, replace your smoke breaks with a different activity, for example listening to soothing music.

If you need to get away from your desk, walk around the office building with a colleague. Just make sure you don’t go near the smoking areas!

At home, place healthy snacks within reach — for instance, a bowl of fruit on the coffee table — to keep your mouth busy when cravings hit.

And always keep a “Distraction Kit” with you when you’re out and about. Some fun items to pack include word puzzles, Sudoku, and mobile games.

Fun active day out  

Related: Banish Nasty Nibbles with Healthy Snacks


Colleagues sitting together on the stairs and having a chat

The next trick to beating the urge? Delaying (or dilly-dallying). Try to stall for time and the urge will pass within a few minutes whether you smoke or not.

Do this by keeping your mouth busy for a few minutes: pop some sugar-free mints or chew on sugar-free gummy candies.

Or pass the time with a short online video — cat videos, funny local YouTubers, K-pop music videos... but don’t forget to get back to work!

You can also tap into social support: call up friends and family to chit-chat. Or call Quitline for motivation at 1800 438 2000.

When you’re out and about, a good delay tactic is to head to a shopping centre — you can’t smoke inside the mall and you get to enjoy free air-con!

Related: 4 Hangout Spots that Don’t Involve Drinking or Smoking

Deep Breathing

Young man going for a walk in a forest

Another way to get over cravings is to practise deep breathing. Concentrate on your body and your breathing; this will help take your mind off smoking.

Plus, you can do it anywhere! Whether you’re at home, work, or out with friends, simply take a 5-minute deep breathing break if you feel like smoking.

Alternatively, you can incorporate deep breathing into your workout routine: pick up an exercise like Qigong or Tai Chi and you might find it easier to deal with the urges.

Related: The Kan Cheong Spider’s Guide to Breathing

Drinking Water

Asian man taking a drink of water after exercising

Instead of picking up a cigarette, occupy your hands and mouth by drinking a glass of water, milk, or refreshing herbal tea.

Don’t gulp down your drink, though. Sip slowly to keep your mouth and hands busy for a longer time — the urge will pass before you know it.

Make sure water’s always within reach: carry a bottle of water with you when you’re out, and have a mug of water on your office desk.

Try infusing your water with fruit like lemon, strawberry or cucumber for a flavourful twist.

Related: Plainly Good: Ways to Make Water Tasty

Resources for Quitting

Join the I Quit 28-Day Countdown now! Call QuitLine at 1800 438 2000 for support, and visit participating retail pharmacies for advice and products that can help you quit.

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