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Quitting vaping? Here are 5 tips for handling nicotine withdrawal

It’s one of the biggest challenges to quitting both cigarettes and e-cigarettes: coping with cravings from nicotine withdrawal.

Although research on quitting e-cigarettes is in the early stages, that doesn’t mean we don’t have plenty of good information about how to deal with nicotine withdrawal. Since nicotine is what makes e-cigarettes addictive, quitting e-cigarettes shares similarities to quitting regular cigarettes or other tobacco products. (For more on quitting JUUL and other e-cigarettes, start here.)

Dr. J. Taylor Hays, professor at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and director of the Mayo Clinic Nicotine Dependence Center, regularly takes on this topic in his blog in the EX Community on BecomeAnEX®, a digital quit-smoking program developed by Truth Initiative® in collaboration with Mayo Clinic.

We rounded up some of Hays’ top tips for handling withdrawal symptoms.

1. Exercise.

Physical activity is a reliable way to crush a craving, according to Hays. "Instead of using nicotine to get that 'feel good' response in the brain, you are doing it more naturally thanks to the endorphin boost you can get from physical activity," he says. Even a short walk can do the trick, as can something fun like playing ultimate frisbee, taking a swing at batting cages or doing yoga in your bedroom.

2. Use a distraction.

Cravings will pass, if you can give them a minute or two. Purposefully using a distraction to take your mind off the craving will help speed up the process. “Find the activities that will keep your mind engaged for those few minutes,” Hays says. These can include things like reading a blog, listening to music, playing a game, solving a puzzle or doodling.

3. Set up your environment for success.

Hays recommends creating a temptation-free home, such as throwing out anything that reminds you of vaping. Make sure your room, backpacks, purses and pockets are free of any e-cigarettes and things you need to vape. Then, let your friends know you’re trying to quit so they don’t bring vaping items around you that could trigger a craving.

4. Find stress solutions.

Many people turn to vaping when they’re stressed out, which sets up a vicious cycle of cravings. Hays points out that this way of confronting stress is only a “Band-Aid.” Now is a great time to examine your stress coping skills. “Developing healthy, effective alternatives to stress now will benefit you for the rest of your years. Things as simple as deep breathing, drinking water or talking to a friend are ways to re-energize yourself and let the stress go,” Hays says.

5. Celebrate your accomplishments.

Experts say that recognizing and celebrating accomplishments when you’re quitting can boost resistance to stress and cravings. Even making it through your first few hours is a big accomplishment. “Each and every moment tobacco-free is a moment to be welcomed and celebrated,” Hays says.

For more information on how to quit JUUL and other e-cigarettes, read “How to quit JUUL” and “Quitting e-cigarettes.”