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Coping with Smoking Withdrawal

For the first few days after you quit smoking, you may feel cranky, restless, depressed, or low on energy. These are symptoms of withdrawal. Your body needs time to recover from smoking. Your symptoms should lessen within a few days.

Coping with the urge to smoke

  • Deep-breathe. Breathe in through your nose. Count to 5. Slowly breathe out through your mouth.

  • Drink water. Try to drink 8 or more 8-ounce glasses of water a day.

  • Keep your hands busy. Wash your car. Draw. Do a puzzle. Build a birdhouse.

  • Delay. The urge to smoke usually lasts only 3 to 5 minutes.

  • Keep your mouth busy. Try chewing on fruits or vegetables such as celery, carrots, or apples. Chew sugarless gum or suck on sugar-free hard candy.

Get support

Individual, group, and phone counseling can help keep you on track. Ask your healthcare provider for more information about resources available to you.

Control stress

After you quit, you may feel irritable and stressed. Try taking a warm bath or shower. Listen to music. Go for a walk or to the gym. Try yoga or meditate. Call friends or talk with a professional.


Exercise helps your body and mind feel better. There are many ways to be more active. Find something you enjoy doing. See if a friend will join you for a walk or a bike ride.

Adult couple riding bicycles.

Sleep better

You may feel tired but have trouble falling asleep. Try to relax before bed. Do a few stretching exercises. Read for a while. Also don't have caffeine for at least a few hours before bedtime.

Eat right, get active

You may notice an increased appetite. Many people who quit smoking gain a few pounds. To limit weight gain, try to watch what you eat. Cut back on fat in your diet. Snack on low-calorie foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables. Drink low-calorie liquids, especially water. Regular exercise can also help you stay fit. And remember: Your main goal is to be a nonsmoker. Stay focused on that goal.

Quit-smoking products

There are many products that can help you quit smoking. These include medicines and nicotine replacement products. They are available over-the-counter or by prescription. Ask your healthcare provider if any of these could help you quit smoking.

To learn more

  • 800-QUIT-NOW (800-784-8669)

  • National Cancer Institute Smoking Quitline: 877-44U-QUIT (877-448-7848)

Online Medical Reviewer: L Renee Watson MSN RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Marianne Fraser MSN RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Paul Ballas MD
Date Last Reviewed: 1/1/2022
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