Let me start by saying that I love coffee. Like any good addict, I have a strong affinity for my drug of choice (at least it’s not nicotine anymore…), and would do almost anything for it (repeat, at least I’m not tearing through packs of smokes like they’re candy). And like any good addict, my obsession with my drug never really made me feel good in the long run.
I’m not trying to make light of truly life-threatening substance abuse. But my addiction to coffee was seriously out of control. Panic attacks would arise if I forgot my morning thermos. K cup, after K cup, after disgusting K cup was consumed at work for no real reason. Weekends were devoted to spending as much time as possible on the couch with my coffee. Friday evenings gave-way to Christmas Eve-like excitement: the sooner I went to bed, the sooner Saturday morning would come and the sooner I could be with my coffee. The occasional caffeinated tea was consumed but always made me feel like a wimp. I was a coffee drinker, damn it! It was part of my identity.
What was my tipping point? What triggered me to finally acknowledge my relationship with coffee was unhealthy?
In January, I left a very stressful job as a corporate copywriter to pursue a long-held dream of working in skincare. I jumped back into school to earn my esthetics license. After a few weeks carrying on my same coffee routine, it became clear that my caffeine habits were no longer conducive to my new professional life. Working in front of a screen all day where you have very little human interaction? Well then feel free to dive into the deep end of the coffee pool. Your tweaked out office buds are waiting. However, are you working with your hands on other people’s faces, wielding machines, performing massages, and attempting to communicate calmly? Then it’s time to rethink your beverage choices.
Even before the career switch, I noticed mood and behavioral changes that seemed to coincide with my coffee intake. My happy morning buzz would eventually turn into afternoon jitters. Too much caffeine and I would have trouble focusing and communicating. My natural anxiety became magnified by the stimulant coursing through my veins. If I knew I had to speak in front of people or present ideas, I would have to force myself to limit my caffeine intake that day. I was also terribly dehydrated! Drinking coffee had become a problem and a crutch, not an answer for sleepiness and productivity.
Getting off coffee was not easy. I didn’t go completely cold turkey, but cut back bit by bit over the course of a few days. Even that was probably too fast. In the immediate days and weeks that followed, I experienced regular headaches, dizziness, and even some weight gain. It’s not pretty, but I’d rather be honest with you in case you’re planning on cutting out coffee as well. Decrease your intake little by little over the course of a few weeks to curb any unwanted side effects.
Why go through all of this? If I told you I felt like a completely different person since I stopped drinking coffee, would you believe me? You should. I haven’t eliminated caffeine completely–caffeinated teas don’t have the same strength as the extra-strong coffee I used to make–but I haven’t had any coffee in over 3 months.
I’m calmer, have better focus, and sleep like I’ve never slept before. I drink water and tea throughout the day, and maybe it’s just me, but my skin is GLOWING, and I even think my hair is healthier. Turns out, dehydration is not so good for your body…
You might read this and think it’s silly to have such a long piece devoted to cutting out a daily coffee habit, but letting go of something that has such an overwhelming power over you feels amazing, whether it’s as small as coffee or as consuming as a terrible relationship. Also, I don’t think coffee is bad or that everyone should stop drinking coffee immediately. Most people are able to have a healthy relationship with it. I just am not one of those people.