A few months ago, you wouldn’t have been able to speak to me in the morning before I'd had my first cup of coffee. The feeling of the warm liquid going down, that swift uplift in energy — I needed it to begin my day. At least, I thought I did. I started to question whether or not coffee was actually good for me when I noticed the severity of my energy crashes in the afternoon. By 2 pm, my eyelids would start to get heavy, and I felt like my brain couldn’t focus on any task. The only answer would be to reach for another cup, which would then leave me struggling to fall asleep at night. I'd wake up feeling groggy and lethargic, and so the cycle would start all over again.
Instead of continuing to put myself through this torture, I did some research and devised a game plan to help me finally quit java. And while it definitely wasn't easy at first, I’ve got to say that I feel better (and fully energized) now more than ever. Check out my reasons for giving up the good stuff, and how it’s changed my life for the better.
1. I was feeling anxious.
One of the major indicators that I needed to gain control of my coffee habit was when I realized that I was more anxious after my morning cup. While I felt like I could get more done, I noticed that my thoughts were often racing and I couldn’t do things quite fast enough. My mind was running a thousand miles a minute, and I often felt like I couldn’t keep up. I thought I could multi-task more, but I'd lack attention to details in an effort to just rush through things. Since quitting coffee, I’m much more conscientious in everything I do from the time I get up to the time I go to bed, and I'm better able to manage my moods throughout the day. I no longer feel like I need anything for a pick-me-up, and I don't have to suffer through the feeling of rushing and forgetting/missing things.
2. I didn’t like being addicted to the caffeine.
As I mentioned earlier, I was one of those people you couldn’t speak to before she had a cup of coffee. You didn’t want to run into me in the elevator on the way up to the office. I just wasn't pleasant. The physical and emotional dependency I developed on coffee was something I was no longer comfortable with. I didn’t want to wake up feeling drained and like I was forcing myself out of bed every morning. I didn’t want to feel like I needed a drug — and that's what caffeine is — every single day just to function normally or be a nice person to others. I was tired of the cycle of chasing my energy, losing it, then trying to gain it back. Seeking out natural ways to stay energized has not only helped me feel better, it's improved my functioning and relationships in more ways than one.
3. It was causing me adrenal fatigue.
While I wasn’t necessarily ready to blame my morning companion for my afternoon struggles at first, I suspected that caffeine couldn’t be doing much to help me in regulating my energy throughout the day. I loved the rush of the coffee, but the toll it took on my productivity after a certain point just didn’t feel worth it, so I started to look at ways I could keep my energy and focus more stable.
Energy fluctuates throughout the day for everyone. However, after doing some research, I found out about something called adrenal fatigue. Basically, the caffeine in coffee stimulates neuron activity in your brain, causing your adrenal glands to release more cortisol (the stress hormone) and adrenaline. These hormones are responsible for our body’s “fight or flight” response, meaning that when you drink a cup of coffee, you're quite literally inducing a stress response in your body. I determined that this was likely the cause of my anxiety and mood swings as well. Not only that, but I already realized that sending my body into a stress response so early in the day was causing me to feel fatigued in the afternoon. The adrenal glands are overworked, therefore causing a crash in energy levels. While adrenal fatigue isn't something that happens to everyone who drinks coffee, it's especially important for those with hormonal conditions like diabetes or a weak thyroid.
Since quitting coffee, I can absolutely tell the difference between how I feel energetically now versus then. While I felt on top of the world after that precious first mug, my body let me know that this habit wasn't the best for me with an afternoon crash, poor sleep, and a never-ending cycle of chasing an ideally energized state. Now, I'm energized from the time I get out of bed, and I don't have trouble falling or staying asleep. Plus, I feel healthier, happier, and I've even lost a bit of weight!
To replace coffee, I have started using a green juice that has a bit of caffeine in it, though it's a modest amount, and caffeine derived from certain plant sources are metabolized differently than the caffeine in coffee. I also make sure to always have something to eat before consuming any source of caffeine, as this helps to regulate the rate at which the caffeine enters the blood stream. If you suspect that coffee could be responsible for making you feel less than your best, I urge you to give quitting a try. And if you feel so inclined, check out the green juice I used to replace it here.