Nicotine Withdrawal Symptoms: Five Strategies to Help You Cope

Determined to quit? For many, the first week will be the hardest with experiences such as depression, headaches and intense cravings,[1] especially if you choose to quit cold turkey. 

The struggle will be real and it stems from nicotine withdrawal. Nicotine produces physical and mood-altering effects on your brain, and as a result, your body craves more of it as time progresses.[2]

Want to set yourself up for success? The urge to smoke will come and go but when it strikes in full force, here are five effective strategies that will lend a helping hand:

1. Focus on a healthy and well-balanced diet

Cravings and your appetite go hand in hand. Being hungry can make it hard to resist cravings brought[3] on by nicotine withdrawal, yet one of the symptoms of nicotine withdrawal is increased appetite.[4]

Research suggests that eating smaller more frequent meals,[5] along with a healthy diet - can increase your chances of success.[6] For snack recommendations for people quitting smoking, be sure to check out this useful list from the American Heart Association.

It isn’t just what you eat but what you drink that can help make the difference. Drinking lots of water can help flush out the toxins in your body, while avoiding alcohol and caffeine can help avoid triggering cravings.[7]

2. Stay active

Getting exercise can be an important part of your journey to a smoke-free life. Firstly, it can provide a distraction from nicotine withdrawal symptoms and potentially reducing the desire to smoke.[8] The endorphins released by exercise can also help keep you in good spirits[9] as you work through the challenging journey of quitting smoking for good.

As you start to realize the benefits of quitting smoking, you will be able to breathe easier and you’ll notice that you have more energy.[10] What better way to make use of this extra energy than getting more exercise?
3. Leverage technology

Not only can technology help you quit, it can also make it a personalized experience, enabling you to plan your quit attempt and track your progress. Mobile apps in particular are great resources that you can use for support.

Many available apps allow you to see the benefits of quitting, watch video testimonials, learn about the contents of a cigarette and receive help addressing common concerns.

These are valuable resources that will allow you to obtain the information and tools you need to feel confident when you finally decide to quit.

4. Try meditation or other relaxation techniques

Quitting can be a stressful time, particularly as anxiety can be a common nicotine withdrawal symptom. To manage this stress, deep breathing exercises or meditation are commonly recommended strategies to get you through[11] [12]- advice backed by a preliminary scientific study looking at the issue.[13]

5. Ask your doctor about nicotine replacement products

Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) contain about one-third to one-half the amount of nicotine found in most cigarettes, and helps reduce nicotine withdrawal and craving by supplying your body with nicotine.[14] Forms of NRT include gum, inhalers, lozenges, oral spray and patches. To find the right product for you, Nicorette’s product tool can help.