On your journey to stop smoking for good, you may face the urge to smoke again. Use these 4Ds to beat your nicotine cravings.
You’re on your way to putting out your last cigarette — congrats! You’ve done your homework, and you are ready to stop smoking for good.
During your quit journey, you may feel urges to smoke due to nicotine addiction. 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! The symptoms of nicotine withdrawal are usually worse in the first week and generally, disappear after two to three weeks.
What can you do to overcome these nicotine cravings? Have a plan ready! Use the 4Ds to tide over cravings: distract, delay, deep breathing, and drinking water.
Related: Stay Smoke-Free and Avoid a Smoking Relapse
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. A short brisk walk can also make you feel good and refreshed. 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 the nicotine cravings hit. You don’t want to binge on unhealthy snacks that will result in unnecessary weight gain!
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.
Related: Banish Nasty Nibbles with Healthy Snacks
The next trick to beating the urge? Delaying (or dilly-dallying). Try to stall for time and the urge to smoke 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. Benefits of this delay tactic include minty fresh breath!
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 as you reduce your nicotine dependence.
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: Places to Hang Out When You Want to Quit Smoking
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.
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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: Make Drinking Water Tasty With These Tips
If you find that your withdrawal symptoms unbearable, consider tapping onto nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) which increases the chances of quitting by easing these withdrawal symptoms. NRT supplies nicotine to the body to replace the nicotine from cigarettes and to help reduce nicotine cravings when quitting. The amount of nicotine supplied is slowly reduced over time to decrease dependency and help you quit smoking. Consult a pharmacist or doctor to find out more.
Join the I Quit Programme and remain smoke free for 28 days and you are 5 times more likely to quit smoking. You can nominate your loved ones as a supporter when you sign up for the programme. Validate your smoke-free status and redeem a HPB eVoucher* worth $50 at the 28th day milestone. Keep going and you'll also receive eVouchers* worth $30 and $20 at the 3rd month and 6th month milestone respectively!
*Terms and conditions apply.
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This article was last reviewed on
22 Nov 2023
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