*This post contains gifted products*
For the longest time I’ve been telling myself and others around me that one day, I’m going to cut back on caffeine. Just when I thought that day was never actually going to come, Adagio teas got in touch asking if I would like to try some of their teas and write about them. Perfect.
I’ve never seen myself as a true ‘caffeine addict’ who gulps down eight espressos a day, but for the last few years I have been drinking around two cups of coffee every day. I’ve always been a coffee over tea kinda gal, and there is around twice as much caffeine in one cup of coffee than there is in a cup of tea… so I’ve been consuming a fair amount.
Even when I was having anxiety flare-ups, I continued to drink coffee.
I know that caffeine can exacerbate anxiety. I know the advice for those with anxiety is to reduce caffeine. Hell, I’ve even given that advice myself… I guess I thought I was an exception. I found such comfort in my routine, drinking my favourite coffee at certain times of the day, the idea of changing it at all felt daunting.
But I knew it would be a good experiment for me. I was curious about the impact reducing caffeine would have on me physically and mentally. And swapping to tea felt much more manageable than going cold turkey. I found out that the caffeine in tea is released more slowly into your system, so you don’t get the crash you can get with coffee.
Swapping coffee for tea – the first week
Going into my experiment I, perhaps naively, didn’t think I would be affected too much. I anticipated a slight headache and nothing more – after all I was still drinking caffeine, just less… right?
Oh how wrong I was. That first week I had a headache which I can only describe as oppressive. One of those ones that hangs heavy over your eyes and doesn’t shift with pain killers. I also felt super tired and like I was going through my days in slow motion. And, perhaps ironically, I felt super anxious. I had also just returned to work after some time off, so the post-holiday blues and a slightly stressful return to work didn’t help.
This fairly extreme reaction didn’t put me off though, if anything it encouraged me to continue. If my body was kicking up this much of a fuss, it must have been really reliant on coffee and that’s not something I want.
I was also encouraged to keep going by the many, many flavours of Adagio teas I had to go through. I was kindly gifted a huge selection and some teaware (including this tea maker which kinda blew my mind) and was keen to try as many flavours as I could. It felt nice trying something new and the whole ritual of making loose leaf tea was oddly soothing.
What happened next
The second week after coffee (A.C.) everything changed. When I woke up without a headache I felt like a huge weight had been lifted. In all honesty, I had been going through a bit of a funk and was feeling pretty low and unmotivated and this was the week I started to pull myself out of it.
I can’t credit the caffeine reduction entirely for this of course, but I can’t help but think it was contributing. I felt lighter and more energised. My anxiety symptoms were dampened. They didn’t magically disappear, but they certainly eased.
This was also the week I went to my favourite cafe with a book in tow to read and drink my favourite hot beverage – a mocha. But of course this time I asked for a decaf mocha (and it was delicious).
In that moment I realised giving up coffee didn’t have to mean giving up the rituals I loved, it just meant tweaking them.
Suddenly, I had a lot of options to consider when my colleagues ask – ‘do you want a drink?’. I could treat myself to a fancy chocolate chai tea (my favourite flavour from Adagio), I could have a Lady Grey, a Spicy Chai or a decaf coffee.
What I plan to do moving forward
When I started this experiment, I told myself it wouldn’t be forever. I was just curious as to how it would make me feel. But as I write this, I’m four weeks in and I’m not sure I’ll be going back to my two coffee a day habit. Decaf tastes great. My tea options are endless. I feel steadier energy-wise and the lightness I felt in week two A.C. has lingered.
My sleep has improved and I don’t get headaches when I miss a drink. In all honesty it’s probably too soon to tell if it’s had an effect on my anxiety – a huge number of factors go into the development of anxiety symptoms – but I am feeling good. I think the true test will be when I do feel anxious again and how intense/prolonged my symptoms are without coffee. I’ll be sure to report back.
So, to sum up, I’m not saying I’ll never have coffee again, but seeing how strongly my body was affected when coming off it has made me realise how much I don’t want to go back to being reliant on it.
I’ll see how things go, but for now… I’m pretty happy to stick with tea and decaf coffee.
I hope you found this interesting and I would love to hear if caffeine affects you and any steps you’ve taken to reduce or cut down, let me know in the comments.
I’d also like to say a big thank you to Adagio for sending me their lovely teas and opening up my view on tea. They have some truly delicious flavours for Autumn/Winter and really lovely gift sets if you’re feeling super organised!
I’ll be back next week with a podcast diving into the difference between counsellors, coaches and mentors, and a blog on finding your motivation for life again. Until then, take care.
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