Are there any significant benefits of quitting caffeine?
Today I am sharing with you the highs and lows of my coffee consuming journey and why I finally quit caffeine. We’ll explore the many benefits I’ve experienced from ditching the lattes and embracing more calming beverages. Out with the highs, lows and jitters, and in with a calm mind.
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This post is part of my Good Mood Monday series, intent on helping other moms improve their mental and emotional health.
Caffeine and Anxiety
Like a car needing it’s daily fuel on a long road trip, I relied heavily on coffee to get me through the demanding life of motherhood. I mean, it’s 2022. Who doesn’t do this?
My coffee habits followed a typical pattern: Wake up, make coffee, survive morning. Afternoon slump, make coffee, survive afternoon. Then, I’d stay up later because my brain was “wired”, only to do it all over again the next day.
As a mom of little ones not getting much sleep, caffeine enabled me to burn the candle at both ends.
When I couldn’t get into the car without automatically wanting to navigate to Starbucks, I knew I had a problem.
The Anxiety and Depression – Caffeine Connection
At the same time as I increased my caffeine consumption at a reckless rate, I noticed a startling trend in my health. I was plagued by anxiety and depression and had severe adrenal fatigue. It seemed the more caffeine I consumed, the worse my exhaustion and mood became.
I started to wonder if there was a clear connection between my health and coffee consumption.
While many studies tout the health benefits of caffeine, people who already struggle with anxiety and depression know that coffee consumption can send them for a wild ride.
Caffeine stimulates our fight or flight response, which can result in a faster heart rate, anxiety, nervousness and even anxiety attacks. Sure, we also experience an insane ability to get things done and a temporary mood boost. But is it worth it?
“Caffeinism” and Anxiety Symptoms:
This fascinating Cambridge article outlines how overuse of caffeine affects the nervous system and can lead to psychiatric problems:
“Excessive ingestion leads to a state of intoxication known as caffeinism, which is characterised by restlessness, agitation, excitement, rambling thought and speech, and insomnia.“
The article goes on to state that the symptoms of “caffeinism” (overdosing on caffeine) are identical to the symptoms of anxiety! Wow!
Caffeinism is technically at 1000-1500 mg of caffeine (that’s about 10 cups of coffee). But what if some people are more susceptible to the severe effects of caffeine due to genetics, health, or life stress?
I certainly think I may have that issue!
What is not deeply studied is the effects caffeine can have on those who are highly sensitive to it.
When I personally consume caffeine, I get jittery, anxious, and am prone to anxiety attacks! On top of that I also feel more irritable and depressed. This happens to me even when consuming small amounts of caffeine.
I’m sharing this because I want to sound the alert for other mamas. Caffeine may be putting an extra burden on your body that it can’t handle during a stressful season in life. It may be causing you further, unnecessary health problems.
Does Caffeine Cause Anxiety?
So does caffeine cause anxiety? In short, it depends on your genetic makeup and current health levels. For those susceptible, caffeine can definitely trigger anxiety.
For many people who are already struggling with anxiety, a daily dose of coffee can trigger anxiety attacks and anxious thoughts. I know personally that even a small amount of caffeine can trigger anxiety.
Caffeine and Hormones
Caffeine is proven to affect hormone levels, which is the last thing you want to do when in the child bearing years. This study shows that coffee consumption increases the stress hormone cortisol. If you are under under significant stress, drinking coffee throughout the day is going to further exacerbate the impact that stress has on your body.
According to Julia Ross, who wrote The Mood Cure (a book I highly reccomend), caffeine:
“Suppresses our calming neurotransmitters serotonin, GABA, and adenosine by overstimulating adrenaline. Too much adrenaline compromises cardiovascular and adrenal functions, increases stress and anxiety, and diminishes our overall sense of well-being.”
I have personally, definitively felt these effects over the years!
7 Benefits Of Cutting Out Coffee
Over the past few months I slowly cut out coffee and then eliminated it entirely. Here are 7 improvements I’ve seen in my health:
1. Cutting Out Coffee Improved My Mood
What can I say, this is the number one benefit of cutting off the Jo flow! I rarely have anxiety now, even when severely sleep deprived. And, my overall outlook on life has improved. I am seeing the sunny side up in life and feeling overall more optimistic. And dare I say it… even happy!
Yes, this all happened when I cut caffeine. I will say that the first ten days are rough however!
My only anxiety attack in the last month was when I decided one cup of decaf wouldn’t hurt anything. I had an anxiety attack a few hours later.
2. Eliminating My Coffee Intake Leveled Out My Blood Sugar
For me personally, my blood sugar levels seemed to be affected by my caffeine consumption. After the “boost” of caffeine, I’d always be jittery, crabby and starving. See this article for more info on the relationship between blood sugar levels and caffeine. *This can be common in those who tend towards hypoglycemia.
3. Quitting Caffeine Improved My Sleep Immensely
I often lie awake at night counting sheep. But since ditching caffeine I’ve been falling asleep easily and sleeping like a baby (that is of course, unless I get awakened by a baby, ha!).
What more can I say about sleep? My brain functions better without caffeine. It knows when to turn off and is no longer artificially turned on at night. My sleep is immensely improved, with no more tossing and turning. I’m grateful.
4. Giving Up Coffee Allowed Me To Be More Patient
I mentioned above that caffeine made me feel on edge and grumpy. Thankfully, going off caffeine has really allowed me to reclaim my “true” mood. I am much calmer and able to slowly respond to my kids. This is a win win, as I’m able to be a calmer, more patient mom.
If you’re a tired out mom, read this.
5. Not Drinking Coffee IMPROVED My Energy
Ditching the coffee has allowed me to better regulate my energy. When I’m tired, I truly try to rest instead of a homemade latte or Starbucks run to push through. That means my body is now able to deeply restore through sleep and relaxation.
I spent years ignoring my bodies cues for rest, which ended in severe adrenal fatigue. Ditching the coffee has allowed me to relearn my bodies innate needs for restoration.
6. Eliminating Caffeine Decreased My Stress
Like any homeschooling mama of littles, my life has its fair share of responsibility and stress. I’m happy to say that I am now able to handle that stress so much better. The on going additional burden on my body of relying on caffeine was not sustainable!
7. My Focus Improved Immensely
I experienced brain fog in the first few weeks of totally eliminating caffeine. Once that was gone, however, my ability to focus and accomplish tasks peaked. When drinking caffeine I always had hyper energy that lacked concrete focus. I can now work more steadily on one project, seeing it through to the end (good bye ADD).
Without a doubt, quitting caffeine has been wonderful for my overall health, mood and sleep. It has restored a sense of calm to my life and helped me become better connected to my real emotions. If you ditched your morning cup, I’d love to hear your story in the comments below!