Coffee has endured both approval and opposition between scientists, researchers, and professionals. Among the benefits of coffee, we find that it increases heart rate and blood pressure temporarily, as well as dopamine levels. It also works as a diuretic and laxative, this is due to the caffeine’s effect on muscle contractions that resemble those in the large intestine after a regular meal. Doctors validate coffee’s health benefit and worry at the same time about the alleged contribution to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer.
The most popular and recent opposition stems from research that suggests there’s a link between coffee and increased anxiety. It pains me to even think about it but is my dependence on coffee triggering my anxiety? And if so, is it time to break-up this relationship? Understanding your anxiety triggers is a huge step toward taking control and learning how to manage it.
A quick google search resulted in countless articles from women claiming that a coffee-detox positively influenced their health. As a good-ol skeptic and coffee dependent, I had to try this myself and for the first time in almost ten years, I quit coffee for a week. Sure it sounds like a small amount of time, but not for someone who relies on coffee to get through the day.
I was sure I’d crack down by day two, and I am glad I didn’t.
Before the calm comes the storm. Mondays are generally hard, now imagine trying to get by the hardest day with no caffeine. I reconsidered whether I really needed to quit coffee and cursed whoever said that tea had the same feel. Up until that day, I had absolutely forgotten how to yawn. My anxiety levels were through the roof, and I was as unproductive at work as it gets.
Ibuprofen made the next two days easier, it stopped my head from exploding and kept my eyes in their respective sockets. Each morning the headaches were stronger, energy lower, and my anxiety levels remained the same. The fatigue was unbearable, I’d crash down as soon as I got home, and fell asleep in the metro for the first time in my life. These were all clear signs of withdrawal, and soon enough everything was worth it.
Once the withdrawal symptoms wore off, and I no longer needed Ibuprofen to survive a day’s work, the calm had finally arrived. Sure I’d crave coffee whenever I smelled the fresh pot in my kitchen every morning, but I didn’t need it. By the end of the week, I had the energy to spare, and a decrease in anxiety. It was beyond my imagination to think that there would be a day when my boost of energy was not caffeine-induced.
New Found Energy
If you’re as addicted to coffee as I am, hear me out, I know it’s crazy but our body’s natural source of energy is a force to be reckoned with!
Think of an iPhone and its charger, we carry it around because of the constant need to recharge throughout the day. Wouldn’t it be ideal if we could just charge it overnight and have it last all day? Shouldn’t we want the same for our bodies?
Removing stimulants like caffeine, boosts your energy and health, allowing your body to recharge without the help of stimulants. To take full advantage of this benefit I’d recommend:
- Drink tons of water: dehydration causes feelings of fatigue and energy drain
- Sun exposure: elevates your mood by creating more serotonin, the hormone in charge of your well-being and stress.
Caffeine triggers a rise in cortisol, the hormone that we release when we are stressed out, high cortisol levels inhibit brain function, causes our metabolism to slow down and increases blood pressure.
Quitting coffee is not a cure for anxiety altogether, it reduces the symptoms but they’re still very much present. Less coffee means fewer jitters, quickened pulses, and pounding hearts. Understanding the reactions of caffeine and anxiety allows you to be more in control of how you respond to these caffeine-induced circumstances.
To Quit or not to Quit?
In conclusion, after my week-long detox, it was time to decide whether I’d break up with coffee permanently or not. I saw remarkable improvement to my anxiety and discovered there’s energy beyond the coffee bean. However, there are undeniable benefits to the drink. (wink metabolism) So I decided that when it comes to my relationship with coffee I’ll keep it casual, as with every healthy relationship: It’s all about the balance.