When you quit or reduce, your body needs time to adjust to being nicotine-free.

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You’ll likely experience cravings (strong urges to smoke or vape) and withdrawal symptoms as the nicotine leaves your system. Cravings and withdrawal are strongest during your first few days without nicotine. As time passes, your cravings should get weaker and less frequent, but they may still come up occasionally. 

Planning ahead for cravings and withdrawal will help you get through them and stay focused on achieving your goals.

Prepare to handle cravings

When a craving hits, it usually only lasts between 3 and 5 minutes! Since you won’t always be able to avoid a trigger, make a plan to ride out the craving until it passes. Make a list of ways to beat cravings using the 4 Ds: Delay, Distract, Deep Breathing, Drink Water.



Good news about cravings: they rarely last more than a few minutes. Wait 5 minutes when you feel the urge to smoke or vape and the feeling should pass. Do activities to pass the time like playing a game on your phone, doing the dishes, or playing an instrument.


Do something else to take your mind off your desire to smoke or vape. When the craving hits, stop what you’re doing immediately and do something different.  

You can also try to distract your mind from smoking or vaping with fidget toys or by chewing on gum, candy, or carrot sticks. Your brain gets used to the hand-to-mouth action of smoking or vaping, so distracting your hands and mouth can help eliminate the psychological need to smoke or vape.

Deep breathing

Inhaling and exhaling tricks your body into feeling as though it’s already relaxed, which in turn relaxes you. Inhale through your nose and hold it for a count of 5. Slowly breathe out through your mouth for a count of 7. Repeat a few times to reduce your cravings, stress, and anxiety.  

Drink water

Drinking water is another technique to replace the hand-to-mouth behaviour of smoking or vaping. Water also changes the feeling and taste in your mouth, which can reduce cravings.  Try sipping slowly, holding each sip in your mouth for a few seconds. Change things up by drinking sparkling water or adding lemon, lime, or cucumber to your water.

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How to manage withdrawal

As your body adjusts to being without nicotine, you will likely experience mental and physical discomfort. Withdrawal symptoms can include mood swings, restlessness, headaches, or trouble sleeping. These feelings are normal but can be very uncomfortable the first few days after you quit or reduce.  Try to remember that these feelings are temporary and will soon pass. Use the tips below to manage withdrawal symptoms.  

Read about some common withdrawal symptoms and how to manage them.

Read here


Move your body

Exercise helps boost your mood by producing “feel-good” endorphins in your body. Getting physically active can also help beat the fatigue that can arise during nicotine withdrawal and can help you sleep better. 

Read tips about physical activity here.


Let yourself rest

Quitting smoking or vaping can cause many changes in your body as it adjusts to the lack of nicotine. You might feel extra tired during the first couple weeks after quitting and have trouble sleeping. Give yourself permission to rest. Try to go to sleep a bit earlier or take a nap if you need one. You may also want to limit caffeine later in the day—your body is more sensitive to caffeine now that you’ve quit nicotine.


Manage your stress

Many people smoke or vape to try to deal with stress, but nicotine actually makes you feel more stressed. Your quit journey can be an opportunity to find new, healthy tools to help you manage stress. Deep breathing techniques, meditation, and journalling can help you find calm, as can getting more sleep, moving your body, eating healthy foods, and talking it out. It might take some time to find something that works for you—be patient with yourself.


Do something to make yourself feel better

There’s no denying that withdrawal symptoms can make you feel awful. Take extra care of yourself and indulge in some “you time” to make yourself feel a bit better— maybe take a bubble bath, get a massage, watch your favourite movie, or treat yourself to your favourite food. Try to take your mind off the discomfort until this period of withdrawal passes. And it WILL pass!


Celebrate your wins

Quitting or reducing nicotine can be challenging. Each day that you stick to your goals is worth celebrating! Reward yourself when you reach your goals — a day, a week, a month, or six months of being nicotine-free.  Looking back on your wins can motivate you to keep going when you’re in a tough spot.

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Find support

For extra support with cravings and withdrawal, talk to a Quit Coach by Phone or Live Chat or reach out to others who know what you’re going through on the Community Forum!