Things to Do Instead of Smoking

Distract Yourself and the Urge to Smoke Will Pass

Sometimes the best thing we can do when craving a cigarette is to simply redirect our attention to something different and interesting. Nine times out of ten, the urge to smoke is gone within moments. Jolting ourselves out of the mindset we're in usually helps to disengage negative thought patterns.

The following list was compiled by our smoking cessation forum members. It's a great jumping off point for creating your own list to have on hand for times when you need it.

  • Read a book.
  • Wash the car.
  • Wash the dog.
  • Go for a walk.
  • Knit a scarf.
  • Do a crossword puzzle.
  • Take a nap.
  • Call a friend.
  • Stop and really smell the roses.
  • Play with the cat.
  • Turn the bathroom into a spa to relax and rejuvenate.
  • Listen to a relaxation tape or some favorite music.
  • Go the gym and work out.
  • Give yourself a manicure and pedicure.
  • Watch a funny movie on TV.
  • Bake a cake.
  • Go out to the movies.
  • Window shop at the mall. (It's a great place to walk, too.)
  • Do a jigsaw puzzle online at Jigzone.com
  • Do some deep breathing for a few minutes.
  • Drink a glass of water.  It's a surprisingly good craving-buster.
  • Jump on the treadmill and work up a sweat.
  • Give someone you love a huge hug and tell them how much they mean to you.
  • Go outside and do some gardening.
  • Grab the fishing pole and tackle and head out to the pond to do some fishing.
  • Start planning a vacation that will be funded by the money you will have saved by not smoking for a year..
  • Take up a new hobby/interest. 
  • Organize the junk drawer.
  • Eat a dill pickle.
  • Suck on a piece of TART candy.
  • Slather on rich, creamy hand lotion and rub, rub, rub! It keeps fingers busy and reminds you how nice it is not to have tobacco stink on them.
  • Eat a popsicle, or wash and freeze grapes on a cookie sheet for a healthy frozen snack.
  • Floss and brush your teeth.
  • Do three sets of ten jumping jacks.
  • Chew gum.
  • Do the laundry.
  • Spend time with a child.
  • Make a list of treats you'll give yourself every day of your quit - no matter how small.
  • Spend an hour filling and enjoying the paddling pool in the garden on a gorgeous sunny day.
  • Play a game of internet scrabble.
  • Plan next week's dinners and make a shopping list to match.
  • Get your pajamas on early, and park yourself in front of your computer for the night.
  • Build something with wood.
  • Refinish a piece of furniture.
  • Digitize the family photos.
  • Paint a room in the house with a faux finishing technique.
  • Create a family cookbook.
  • Try a new exercise routine.
  • Make a terrarium.
  • Whistle or hum for awhile.
  • Practice smiling in the mirror (releases endorphins).
  • Make lists of pros and cons of smoking.
  • Research the facts and statistics about smoking and tobacco use.
  • Start a sewing project.
  • Spend some time scrapbooking.
  • Get your camera out (or use your phone camera), and take some pictures.
  • Write an old-fashioned hand-written letter to someone you care about.
  • Clean out a closet in the house.
  • Crank up the radio and sing at the top of your lungs (works great for driving craves).
  • While the music is playing, dance like no one is watching.
  • Create a puzzle from a family photo.
  • Organize your boxes of pictures.
  • Alphabetize your book shelves.
  • Volunteer somewhere in your community.
  • Clean the car, inside and out.
  • Shred that pile of paper you've been meaning to get to.
  • Take a shower.
  • Take a candle-lit bath.
  • Wax the car.
  • Take a day trip.
  • Try making home-made candles or soap.
  • Run in place.
  • Go out to lunch or dinner.
  • Start a reward fund - put away the amount you spend on smokes every day and use for those daily treats.
  • Write a poem.
  • Go antique shopping.
  • Start a vegetable garden.
  • Get out into nature.
  • Let your husband or wife cook supper for you.
  • Call your mom or grandmother. You know they'd love to hear from you!
  • Paint a picture.
  • Eat a hot fudge sundae.
  • Go play mini-golf.
  • Clean the basement or garage.
  • Write a short story.
  • Try a new recipe.
  • Scrub the floor.
  • Treat yourself to a massage.
  • Chop up some veggies for a stir-fry or for quick, healthy snacking.
  • Make a to-do list for the week ahead.
  • Check your car's tire pressure.
  • Start a home budget.
  • Ride a bike.
  • Learn what to expect when you quit smoking.
  • Watch the sun set.
  • Write a goodbye letter to cigarettes
  • Donate blood.
  • Color your hair.
  • Make a greeting card.
  • Write a list of things you are grateful for.
  • Create your own list of crave-buster activities.

Our thoughts color our lives, so if you find that yours are taking you places you'd rather not go, take charge and shift your focus. Yes, it takes work to begin with, but with practice, redirecting your thoughts away from the negative self-talk that comes with recovery from nicotine addiction comes more easily.

Be patient with yourself and you'll get through this phase, just as others have.  You may even emerge from nicotine withdrawal with a new hobby or interest that you can pursue with the time you're no longer devoting to cigarettes.

Continue Reading