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3 of the best relaxation tricks to ease stress and anxiety (and help get you through cravings)

Feeling stressed or anxious is a normal response to challenging situations. Quitline counsellors share their tips on healthy ways to ease stress and anxiety without reaching for a cigarette or vape. These tricks also work in helping you get through cravings.

Deep breathing tells your body it’s safe right now

Why you should do it:
Deep breathing helps to slow the heart rate, calm the muscles, refocus your mind and help with clear thinking, taking your body out of the ‘fight or flight’ state.

How to do it:
When you’re feeling stressed or you start to crave a cigarette or vape, take slow deep breaths, with a long exhale. Breathe deeply right into your belly. You can count slowly to 4 as you breathe in and 4 as you breathe out, and repeat.

A simple distraction can interrupt a negative thought cycle

Why you should do it:
A simple distraction can interrupt cycles of negative thinking - and cravings - and allow you to redirect your thoughts to something more positive.

How to do it:
Grab a drink of water, eat a healthy snack like a piece of fruit or veg, or call someone for a quick hello. Also check out our online distraction tool.

Activating the ‘complex thinking’ part of your brain can make you feel good

Why you should do it:
The prefrontal cortex is the part of your brain that takes care of complex decision making and behaviour change. Activating it helps to regulate your emotional response, giving you a sense of wellbeing and reduced anxiety. Movement gets dopamine - that feel-good hormone - pumping.

How to do it:

  • Chat to a loved one on the phone or on video chat.

  • Do activities you enjoy; a hobby or something relaxing such as tending to your indoor/outdoor plants, knitting, music, art, books, cars, cooking…

  • Do any kind of movement. At home, put on some music and dance around the room, play with your pet, stretch or follow an online exercise video (there are many on YouTube, for instance).

  • Go for a walk or a bike ride around the block.

Please note, this information is for general use only.  Please consult your health professional for further advice.

If you would like to provide feedback, please contact

Last updated February 2024

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