I have been drinking tea and coffee for many years and I never really understood how it was affecting my anxiety or my mood. It wasn’t until I decided to reduce my caffeine intake that I realised the benefits.
For the past two years or so, my caffeine intake has been quite high. I got into the regular routine of having a whole pot of filter coffee in the morning, plus at least one Starbucks coffee and then tea in the evening.
Not only was my anxiety particularly bad at this point, but I was also getting mood swings and irritability. My concentration levels were almost non-existent but I didn’t really understand why. I always thought that it was a consequence of my anxiety, but that opinion changed.
I read an interesting article about how caffeine affects anxiety, which I had heard about before, but never taken notice. It was my increasing desire to get my anxiety under control, that led to me really thinking about the role caffeine plays.
So I decided to try and reduce my caffeine intake slowly so as to avoid the withdrawal headache. I wrote about my decision to kick caffeine and start yoga and was hoping that it might at least make the anxiety a little better. The results were very surprising.
For the first few days, I would have a cup of caffeinated coffee in the morning, then decaf for the rest of the day. I also switched to decaf in Starbucks (much to their surprise). I found that my anxiety was a lot better after the first day or so, but I thought that this might be just coincidence. Surprisingly, my anxiety continued to improve to the point that I was going 24 hours without any symptoms.
I then started decaf for the whole day apart from one cup of tea in the evening. Apart from the odd short spell, my anxiety was much more controlled. Any doubt I had about its affects were gone after today. I started with the decaf coffee as before, but this time I had three cups (big pint sized cups) of tea in the afternoon and evening. By about 7pm, I felt very anxious and I was feeling very agitated. My patience, which had improved enormously, was now short again. I also felt my heart thumping and my hands shaking. As soon as it started, I realised that this was because of the caffeine I had today.
I had to resort to my coping tools to get it under control, but it did eventually subside. It has given me a much greater understanding of how my body reacts to caffeine and the effect it has on my mood and anxiety. I know that this won’t help everyone, but as a once cynical person about caffeine, I now realise just how much of an affect it has on me.