You’re on Day 1 of your quitting journey, and you find yourself irritated by the smallest of things. Plus, you feel tired, have headaches, and are having trouble concentrating. What's going on?

You might be facing symptoms of nicotine withdrawal, as your body gets used to not having nicotine. That’s a good thing — it means your body is recovering from the damages of smoking.

Even better news: withdrawal symptoms don't last very long. They're usually strongest in the first week of quitting, and often go away after two to three weeks. So hang in there! Don’t give up on your smoking cessation journey and start smoking a cigarette again.



How to Cope With Smoking Withdrawal Symptoms

Here are some tips to help you handle some common withdrawal symptoms.

Related: The Journey to Smoke-Free

Trouble Concentrating

If you’re having difficulty concentrating on your daily tasks, take frequent mental breaks. Do stretching exercises to energise yourself. You can drink a cup of spicy teh halia or mint tea to recharge and stay alert.

Related: Tea — An Old Beverage Chock-Full of Benefits


Another common withdrawal symptom is irritability — your brain is trying to get used to the absence of nicotine. To cope with it, try calming down by practising deep breathing or yoga.

Or turn to the best medicine: laughter. Laugh out loud by catching a funny movie or watching your favourite sitcom on TV. There are no negative side effects to this medicine!

Related: Burn Calories while Watching TV!


Headaches happen because your brain is adjusting to the higher oxygen levels in your blood.

Make sure you’re getting enough sleep — around seven to nine hours — to prevent your headaches from getting worse. Going for a massage or acupuncture might help ease the pain too.

Related: Headache and Migraine

Feeling Hungry or Thirsty Between Meals

Arm yourself with healthy snacks to munch on between meals, like fruits or low-fat yoghurt to tide over the withdrawal without excessive weight gain.

Carry a water bottle with you at all times so you can take sips of water whenever you feel thirsty. Avoid sugary drinks like soda and try a soothing cup of oolong tea or green tea instead.

Related: Kacang Puteh, and Other Healthy Snacks to Pack

Feeling Tired

Take walking breaks in the office and move your body so you feel more energised. Get as much physical activity as you can.

Exercise doesn’t just keep you energised; it’s also a mood booster. And when you feel good, it’ll be easier to get your mind off your withdrawal symptoms and control your urge to smoke!

Do regular exercises like swimming and cycling. If you find it hard to motivate yourself to exercise, get your friends and family to join you. Go cycling with your family at East Coast Park, play beach volleyball with your friends at Sentosa, or grab your kakis for a football match.

Make exercise part of your daily routine while you’re trying to stop smoking. And keep at it even after you've successfully stubbed out to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Related: Let's Move It! Tips to Get Started on Your Exercise Journey

Consider Nicotine Replacement Therapy to manage your withdrawal symptoms

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. 

Resources for quitting

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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