anxiety part II – anxiety & caffeine (hoo boy)

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:

  1. 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).
  2. 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).
  3. 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.
  4. 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!

10 thoughts on “anxiety part II – anxiety & caffeine (hoo boy)

  1. Haha nice to actually read that I’m not the only one who has had to cut diary, caffinee and alcohol out, really does bring on anxiety for me, the changes they create cause my mental health to differ. Thankfully I found a milk called KoKo which is amaaaaaaazing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha, no you’re not alone! It’s a bloody nightmare, especially having to cut back on cheese consumption. Never heard of KoKo! I usually go for Bonsoy, or I’ll brave the lactose free option.

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  2. This is really an interesting post to read. I have 2-3 cups of coffee a day, and never thought that might be contributing to my anxiety. I also don’t sleep very well. I love smoothies so maybe I’ll try what your friend did! 😃

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Makes sense that a psychoactive like coffee can raise anxiety in those already anxious. But like you I still like it and I’m getting too old to give up things I like. Have recently had some acupuncture by a brilliant acupuncturist called Alan Hext and he’s relieved my anxiety, he said I’d be “mellow”, and I am. My morning Qi Gong also seems to complement the coffee hit. Keep on keeping on Duncan.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. scientistsophie

    I’m defo dependent on coffee. I don’t think the caffeine directly has an effect on my anxiety but I know sleeping well and relaxing in the evening really improves my mood so try not to drink too much in the afternoon.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: anxiety part III – anxiety & procrastination – em petrie

  6. Ah, I feel your pain. I really like coffee, but it does not like me at all! It definitely has a dramatic impact upon my level of calmness. It raises my fidgetiness, irritability, makes me less productive (weirdly) and agitated. I still drink it occasionally, but I did give it up for 2 whole years as it clearly is not my friend. Such a shame, but I know that it does me harm and so it is best for me if I avoid it 😦

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