Sometimes, the best thing we can do when a tobacco or nicotine craving hits is to simply redirect our attention to something different and interesting. Most of the time, the urge is gone within minutes!

There are countless things you can do to get through the first stages of tobacco or nicotine withdrawal – from doing housework to exercising or even starting a new hobby. The key is to find the distractions that work for you. Even the simplest things can temporarily redirect your focus and break the negative thought patterns that come up when trying to break a tobacco or nicotine addiction.

It’s important to remember that withdrawal is real, but even more important to remember that withdrawal symptoms will pass. Your brain has developed a chemical dependency to tobacco or nicotine and these ideas are meant to assist you along the journey to becoming tobacco-free. Consult your health care provider for more guidance.

Listed below are some ideas to consider. After reading them, you will probably even come up with a few of your own. Embrace those and turn to them every time you feel like smoking (or chewing, vaping, etc.). With time, practice and diligence, it will become easier.

Try five-minute craving-busters.
These do not take a lot of effort or time, but are enough to replace the habit.

  1. Do 10 pushups.
  2. Brush your teeth.
  3. Floss your teeth.
  4. Rinse with mouthwash.
  5. Have a healthy snack.
  6. Make a cup of tea.
  7. Chew a piece of gum.
  8. Squeeze a stress ball.
  9. Put a dab of an essential oil on your wrist.
  10. Wash your hands.
  11. Walk 250 steps.
  12. Make your bed.
  13. Drink a glass/bottle of water.
  14. File your nails.
  15. Play a card game, board game, video game, sport, or game on your mobile device.
  16. Clear out old photos, emails, text or voice messages on your cell phone or mobile device.

Avoid isolation.
Take some time to interact with people and pets. A simple conversation about everyday life or an afternoon jaunt around the block with your dog can be just the lift you need.

  1. Call a friend or family member.
  2. Go for a walk with a friend, family member or pet.
  3. Join a sports league, such as softball, hockey, volleyball, soccer or basketball.
  4. Visit a loved one.
  5. Volunteer.
  6. Make a plan to watch the sun set.
  7. Join a local gym.
  8. Plan and go on a weekend getaway.
  9. Handwrite a letter and send it via snail mail.
  10. Visit your local library.
  11. Attend a sporting event.
  12. Go out for frozen yogurt.
  13. Watch a movie with a friend or family member.
  14. Attend a concert.
  15. Go to lunch with a friend or family member.
  16. Visit a museum.
  17. Get a group together and go to an “Escape Room.”
  18. Play a board game with friends or family.
  19. Visit a new town.
  20. Go bowling with friends – invite any friends who are trying to quit tobacco, too!

Distract yourself while at home.
When you’re not spending so much time smoking, you will be amazed at what you can get done. This is your chance to knock tasks off your to-do list around the house and there’s probably plenty to keep you busy.


  1. Do the dishes.
  2. Clean out and organize your junk drawer(s).
  3. Write out a to-do list.
  4. Vacuum your home.
  5. Dust your furniture and belongings.
  6. Fill up a box with items to donate.
  7. Sort, wash, dry and fold laundry.
  8. Clean out and organize the attic, garage or other storage space.
  9. Clean out and organize your fridge and freezer.
  10. Take inventory of your fridge and freezer and select ingredients to prepare a healthy, homemade meal – without having to go to the store!
  11. Meal plan and prep healthy lunches for the week.
  12. Decorate your house for an upcoming holiday/season.
  13. Brainstorm and plan gifts for loved ones for upcoming holidays or birthday celebrations.
  14. Mop the floor.
  15. Clean out and organize your pantry.


  1. Clean the inside of your car.
  2. Wash the outside of your car.
  3. Season-dependent, shovel the snow.
  4. Weather-dependent, mow the lawn.
  5. Work in the garden (outdoors or indoors).
  6. Rake leaves.
  7. Walk your dog.
  8. Plant flowers or foliage in your yard or indoors.
  9. Recycle or upcycle household items.
  10. Wash your windows.
  11. Clean out your gutters.

Keep your hands busy.
Many former tobacco-users find they not only need a mental distraction, but they also need to find ways to keep their hands busy. Find a hobby you enjoy!

  1. Knit, crochet or sew.
  2. Make a homemade greeting card for a loved one of friend.
  3. Create a craft.
  4. Skip rocks on the water or collect rocks and shells.
  5. Paint.
  6. Complete a crossword puzzle.
  7. Play a musical instrument – learn a new instrument or learn a new song.
  8. Learn how to juggle.
  9. Scrapbook old pictures.
  10. Try woodworking.
  11. Make simple jewelry.
  12. Start and continue to work on a jigsaw puzzle.
  13. Learn sign language.
  14. Play Solitaire.
  15. Draw.
  16. Color a picture from a coloring book.
  17. Play with a yo-yo.
  18. Play video games for 30 minutes.
  19. Watch a “How To” video to learn a new craft or prepare for an upcoming project.

Get active.
One thing that deters many people from quitting tobacco is the fear of gaining weight. You can avoid gaining weight while distracting yourself by doing small things to stay active. Cardiovascular exercise is also extremely beneficial for circulation and heart health. The average weight gained from quitting tobacco ranges from 4 and 10 pounds, but most people can lose up to 10 pounds healthily within a few months. The drawbacks of potential weight gain are nothing compared to the benefits of a smoke-free life.

  1. Walk around the block.
  2. Ride a bike.
  3. Try relaxing yoga poses.
  4. Hike a path near your home.
  5. Go kayaking or canoeing.
  6. Season-dependent, go skiing or snowboarding.
  7. Learn a new dance.
  8. Go swimming.
  9. Play catch with a baseball.
  10. Shoot hoops with a basketball.
  11. Play tennis.
  12. Go golfing.
  13. Try curling at a facility.
  14. Walk your local zoo with a family member or friend.

Eat healthy.
Making nutritious meals and fueling your body with the many nutrients it needs is such an important aspect of living well. To stay busy and productive, dedicate some time and resources to develop healthier nutritional habits!

  1. Go grocery shopping.
  2. Try a new, healthy recipe or remake your favorite recipe with healthier substitutions.
  3. Make a fruit smoothie.
  4. Cut up fruit and veggies for snacks
  5. Take a cooking class.
  6. Naturally infuse water with fruit or fresh herbs.

Practice stress management.
Stress can be a major reason for using tobacco. Try to develop healthy, positive stress-management techniques.

  1. Try different meditation practices, such as mindful breathing, body scanning and walking meditation.
  2. Read a chapter of a book.
  3. Try a Sudoku puzzle.
  4. Find a new musician to listen to.
  5. Write out your list of reasons why you chose to quit tobacco.
  6. Watch a documentary.
  7. Listen to a podcast.
  8. Read or write a poem.
  9. Watch old home videos.
  10. Look through old picture albums.
  11. Take a shower or bath.
  12. Try acupuncture.
  13. Treat yourself to a spa day.

The important part is to remember to take it one day at a time. Some days will be easier to distract yourself than others. Every time you feel the urge to use tobacco, read through this list and focus on other things you could be doing. Remember, every day is a new potential step toward leading a healthier lifestyle.