How to keep your hands busy after quitting smoking

Smoking brings all kinds of benefits from the 10-minute acceptable, regular break to a purpose for those funny things most of us have at the end of our arms. Great when you need to lift something, write an essay, or drink a cup of tea but when you’re standing there trying to have a conversation, they are just a bit awkward really. Hands, huh – who’d have ‘em!


Many smokers struggle to know what to do with their hands when they stop smoking, the constant hand to mouth action gives hands a purpose when there is nothing else for them to do. Although most non-smokers accept that their hands will simply rest at their side, or in their laps for those not used to that it feels uncomfortable. There are many suggestions for what to do with your hands when you stop smoking, for example squeezing a stress ball, doodling, drinking a glass of water but no one really wants to be that adult out with friends playing with their bop it.

What can you do to keep your hands busy when you quit smoking?

When you quit smoking using hypnotherapy, you will learn how to make conscious choices. Some people do walk out of the hypnotherapy room with the mindset of someone who has never smoked. Other people use the power of hypnosis to feel in control of their choices so the craving for a cigarette no longer has power over your mind.

There is the option to find another activity for your hands and a quick online search will bring up many ideas such as knitting, gaming, or reading. But when you use mindfulness techniques such as meditation or yoga to rekindle your mind-body connection you will feel comfortable with your body and its natural ways, without the need to give your hands a permanent purpose.

In addition to the feeling of nicotine in your body, smoking is a habitual process. Most smokers ‘light up’ at the same time each day, in the same place, in routine. It becomes a learned reaction – much like a driver, when seated as a passenger, will naturally press an imaginary break in the car when the car in front stops suddenly. Learned reactions feel comfortable, it is a fight to go against them. Therefore, not fulfilling the hand to mouth habit is uncomfortable when you stop smoking.

What happens when you sit with the feeling of discomfort? Mindfulness is a practice that accepts all feelings as equal. I enjoy thinking of feelings like colours. All different but all equal, no one colour is better than another and no one colour is worse than another. It takes practice to accept all your feelings and permit each one to stay for as long as necessary when you are conditioned to think of some as bad feelings. However, when you do, it stops the fight.

When your hands have no purpose, and you feel desperate to run to the next shop to buy some cigarettes and give your hands something to do, instead give the feeling some thought. What does it feel like, physically and mentally? What is it you want to shut away, get rid of? Then what happens when you allow the feeling, label the feeling, describe it to yourself and explore it.

To strengthen your mind and body you need to put yourself out of your comfort zone. Doing so will force you to demand strength from within. The more strength you pull out of yourself the stronger you become.

Working with a hypnotherapist will help make the process of training your brain easier, you will learn powerful tools, so achieving your goal becomes manageable. However, when this is not possible and you do need to find a way to keep your hands busy when you quit smoking, choose healthier habits. Drinking water is beneficial to your body. A sip of water when you feel that craving will give your hands a purpose. 10 press-ups will empower your hands as they take the weight of your body and give them a greater purpose than the hand to mouth action of smoking. Before you start a new habit consider whether it is something you feel happy making a part of your life.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Hypnotherapy Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Written by Juliet Hollingsworth, MSc
Farnham GU9 & GU10

Juliet is a trauma-informed therapist. Her passion is helping people reach their potential through a combination of hypnotherapy, psychotherapy and transpersonal psychology. Juliet works online and face to face with clients across the world. (DHP Clinical Hypnotherapy & Psychotherapy. MSc Consciousness, Spirituality & Transpersonal psychology.)

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