anxiety part II (read part I here)
header picture taken in seattle, elliot bay
anxiety x caffeine
There’s more and more awareness lately about how much our physical health affects our mental health, and the ways that what we put into our body can affect our mindset. These things can definitely vary from person to person depending on your dietary needs, but caffeine, as well as many other things (from dairy to alcohol) can have an affect on anyone’s mood and general wellbeing.
Like I said in my last post, this is simply my own experience, not medical or professional advice, and should only be taken the same way as you take advice from a friend. I’m just sharing a few little things that have helped me, in the hopes that they help someone else too! Feel free to add your own in the comments, as I love hearing about new ways to combat my anxiety. Solidarity, ya’ll.
I drink 1-2 coffees a day, whether the day involves relaxing at home or working, and I really do rely on the morning brew to kickstart my morning. I truly struggle without it, so imagine my abject horror when I worked out it was actually amplifying my anxiety. Crushing. Coffee is my lifeline, my hot cup of perfectly brewed sunshine, the IV drip of motivation and productivity I entirely require.
Talking to some pals this week about this issue in order to get some perspective for this post, I definitely don’t seem to be the only one that experiences the spike in anxiety after a coffee, which was both reassuring and annoying because then I knew it was definitely the coffee making it worse. There’s also heaps on scientific basis online about it — but this post will focus on the personal experience side of things (like all posts in this series). On a good day, I might feel a niggling sense of worry, but depending how busy and occupied I am it will often amount to nothing. On a bad or just potentially bad day, it could mean clammy palms, shortness of breath and palpitations. During uni, exams were absolute hell because I needed the coffee to get through the massive amount of work I had, but my mental state and the caffeine seemed to egg each other on until I was a vaguely human pile of worry and nerves and doom. Not a great way to get through engineering school.
At the moment I’m just working and taking time off study, but my day job can also get pretty stressful, and I’ve had similar run-ins. So lately, I’m really trying to work out the best way to get through the bad days without making things worse for myself, and this is what I’ve worked out:
- Start the day with (generally black) tea. See how you feel after a few hours. If it’s not enough to tide you over by about 11, have a small coffee (small here is about 8 OZ).
- Balance out your morning coffee with something soothing a little later in the day. A chai latte is good (depending on the caffeine intake) or herbal tea (chamomile is meant to be great, but honestly I can’t stand the flavour – each to their own etc).
- On days where I know it’s gonna be a real doozy in the anxiety department, or I’ve just got a huge amount of stuff to get through, I have an enormous thermos I bought from T2 that I fill with black coffee and gradually sip on throughout the day. The slow-release effect seems to work better with my anxiety, and is often just enough caffeine to keep up my productivity.
- A friend of mine swears by making herself a really banging smoothie in the morning and has gradually weaned herself off of having to have a coffee first thing, which is great. I’m not at all a smoothie person, and generally don’t trust myself to be so motivated so early (without coffee, no less), but that’s just me – 100% give it a try if you think it might work for you!
That’s all the caffeine-related tips I have at the moment. You probably noticed that one obvious one if missing from the list (5. You could just not have coffee) and that’s because it’s both obvious and not always viable. If I’m really having major anxiety issues, I do try to avoid it, but life doesn’t generally stop when the anxiety starts so it’s not always easy for me simply cut it out of my day and be able to get on with it. If you can, that’s fantastic and I’m a little jealous (seriously), and if you can’t, that’s what tips 1 through to 4 are for.
Let me know your suggestions and thoughts. 🙂
Have a lovely weekend!