Helloooooo. Happy Tuesday to ya! What’s going on this morning? We’re heading into the usual morning routine and Livi has her 100th day of school celebration. They asked the kids to dress like a 100-year-old, so naturally, I ordered her this grey wig on Amazon and cat-eye glasses. I’m taking today off from the gym, so I’ll be using the am and naptime to blitz on work stuff.
For today, I thought we could talk about caffeine. I can’t believe that I’ve been on decaf coffee for 6 months now! I’ve stayed away from caffeinated beverages since my surgery, and I thought for sure I would go back eventually. I’m surprised it’s lasted this long, but I’m riding it out while it still makes sense.
Why I Quit Caffeine
I’ve been hooked on caffeine since college. It’s kind of funny that I met the love of my life at Starbucks – because Starbucks was a HUGE part of my caffeine addiction. The Pilot couldn’t believe this when I met him: I had a 16-cup coffee maker and would make all 16 cups in the morning and drink it throughout the course of the day. Not healthy at all. I had an enormous Wizard of Oz Dorothy mug that held at least 6 cups. I’ve always loved the taste of coffee and the energy it gave me. My life in college involved a lot more physical demands than my life does today – I’d go to school all day, teach or take a total of 3-4 dance classes at night, then go home or to the library to study until the early hours of the morning – and I drank coffee all.day.long.
Over time, I started to cut back and my “happy place” was 1-2 cups a day. I’d have one in the morning when I woke up and one in the afternoon with a little snack. In the past few years, I cut out the afternoon coffee because I realized it was affecting my sleep and making me jittery. While I’ve always loved coffee (and caffeine, like energy drinks), I’ve also suffered from anxiety for a long time. I’ve had it since I was very young – as young as I can remember – and when I was in college I started experiencing panic attacks.
Caffeine and Anxiety
At my worst point, I was experiencing 2-3 panic attacks per week. With therapy, I got it under control before we had kids – I did have some during my PPD – but they started to come back last winter. My heart rate was constantly elevated and I had insomnia, which was bizarre to me because I LOVE SLEEP.
Leading up to when I had my surgery last summer, I was down to 1 cup of coffee a day. My anxiety was pretty high – I was nervous about the surgery and on edge from being in pain all the time – so I decided to try to reduce it. I noticed that when I had coffee, my anxiety was higher, and my heart rate was elevated. I didn’t feel focused and energized; I felt like a freaked-out rabbit.
The day after my surgery, I decided to skip my morning cup. I had a horrible headache anyway, and was on pain pills, so I figured if I was going to quit, now was the time to do it. Also, I didn’t feel comfortable drinking it with all of the drugs that were in my system. So, I stopped cold turkey.
I’ve found that since I stopped drinking caffeinated beverages, I feel more focused and energized than I did with my morning cup of coffee. When I wake up in the morning, I feel rested (unless the girls wake us up, which happens fairly often). My anxiety is the lowest it’s ever been, which is reason enough for me to skip it. While I pass on caffeinated coffee, I still drink a ton of hot drinks. They’re warming and comforting, and I find that they’re just as good without the caffeine.
Here’s what I’ve been choosing instead of regular ol’ coffee:
-Decaf coffee. (Well duh, Gina.) My friend Michelle (her Instagram is here!) posted a lot of helpful info on choosing a good decaf coffee. I used to drink whatever, but it turns out that many companies will use chemicals to remove the caffeine. Organic fair-trade coffees will sometimes have a label on them that says, “Swiss Water Method” which means the caffeine is removed using only water and osmosis. My favorite is from Speakeasy or Whole Foods.
-Medicine Ball from Starbucks. With cold and flu season here, this is a little gem anyway! The original version uses green tea, but if you ask for decaf, they’ll use Mint Majesty instead. It’s peach and mint tea, steamed lemonade, honey, peppermint syrup, and life. Just try it; you’ll love it.
-Caffeine-free herbal teas. There are so many amazing ones! Here are some of my very favorites:
-Mushroom hot cacao mix. It sounds terrifying, but it tastes beautiful. Mushrooms can provide healing properties, and you can’t taste them. The Four Sigmatic one is my very fave. (<— Ordered from Thrive Market.)
So, tell me friends: caffeine or no caffeine? What’s your hot beverage of choice? I think mulled wine deserves a spot somewhere on this list for me. 😉