30 days ago, I quit coffee. Or at least I agreed to quit for one week. Some of you most likely shrug this off as "no big deal", while others cringe in empathetic (albeit slow and groggy) suffering. I'm definitely from the latter camp. I've been in this steamy, addictive relationship with coffee since I was teenager.
Perhaps you can relate? I'm a natural night owl, who adapted an early-rising routine. This means try as I might, going to bed at a reasonable hour rarely happens but I still force myself to wake up bright and early. I've leaned on coffee to fill in my sleep-gaps, put me in my "A-Game" and just in general, feel human every morning. But first, coffee was my morning ritual and way of life.
Why did I Quit?
Basically, I lost a bet. JP has been teasing me since we met about my inability to function without high-doses of caffeine pulsing through my body. In fact, he's had a not-so-secret vendetta against my "other boyfriend" since the beginning. After losing the bet I agreed to give up coffee for one week at some vague point in the future. However, it took about 6 months before I was ready to let go. When I fully agreed it was because I was ready to see how the lack of coffee would affect my: digestion, physical jitters, general edginess and sleep issues.
What were the rules?
No coffee, period. Caffeine in tea and sodas (which I almost never drink) was ok.
What was it like? Being drunk, but not fun (at least in the beginning).
I'm not going to lie; the first 5 days were terrible - though I was expecting worse. It was almost like being drunk without any fun side effects: I was slow (both mentally and physically) with a constant headache and longing for sleep. But that's only the bad side. Beyond that, I actually felt relaxed and more fit to stay focused on one task (as opposed to my mind "spiderwebbing"). I was absolutely crabby but not edgy or anxious. As much as feeling "slow" was foreign and frustrating, this new calm and focused disposition was enough to drive me to drop coffee for another 3 weeks.
By week two, I stopped longing for my morning coffee. Or at least waking up and pining over it. My initial grogginess dissipated from a thick fog to a much more manageable mist. Throughout the day, I felt more productive and emotionally balanced. My digestion calmed down significantly. Both falling asleep and waking up was easier AND I noticed myself occasionally passing on evening nightcaps and reaching for herbal tea instead. In fact, I started getting REALLY into tea - green teas in the morning and herbal blends in the evening.
On week three, things began feeling "normal". I even started rolling out of bed and exercising with JP. In the past, I would need at least 45 minutes drink my coffee, wait for it to kick in THEN proceed with my morning. In complete transparency, I caved and drank half of an energy drink one afternoon when deadlines were particularly tight. I got that initial "kick in the pants" but felt completely jittery and irritable - big mistake.
In the last week I began to truly love the calm and focus. I look forward to my morning cup of Pop It Up (genmaicha - green tea with toasted brown rice) from a wonderful Dutch company, the Teamakery who specialize in delicious, organic and unique tea combinations (if you're looking for tea of the highest quality in surprising flavors, be sure to check them out).
While I absolutely miss (and probably always will) the initial adrenal jolt I've only found in coffee, I absolutely do not miss the side effects. I liken my coffee habits to a really bad relationship. Essentially, there were a lot of bad things "happening" to me, things I wanted resolved but my affinity left my blind to the cause. After one month of ditching black coffee for green and herbal teas I've noticed these improvements:
- Less edgy
- Less anxious
- More focused
- More calm/centered
- Better at executing single tasks
- Able to "get up and go"
- Improved digestion
- Falling asleep is easier
- Less inclination for an evening cocktail.
I'm not here to tell you coffee is evil and you need to stop drinking it. I'm just here to share my experience. I think my body was much more caffeine sensitive than I realized. In general, I was consuming 3 generous sized mugs of strong, black coffee every day and that amount put incredible stress on my body. While I can't say I'll never have another cup of coffee again - I can't imagine going back to my old routine.
Have you ever given up coffee or a "bad" habit? How did it go?
The tea is c/o Teamakery - I absolutely love this company, expect more about them soon.