I’ve had a long romance with caffeine, but I’m starting to see it’s one of those unhealthy relationships where it feels really good at first but leaves you feeling really bad afterward. It feels great to have that jolt of energy in the morning, but it doesn’t feel great to be irritable and anxious at lunchtime. Honestly, either the symptoms have always been there and I didn’t want to see them, or I’ve just recently become extremely intolerant to caffeine. So I’m making the tough decision to break up with caffeine.
Don’t get me wrong; I have nothing against coffee or caffeine. This isn’t a post to convince you to stop drinking soda or coffee (phew!). Everyone has different limits and experiences. We all have changes that we’re trying to make in our lives and/or working to kick bad habits. I think we can find inspiration from each other.
So I’m sharing what’s been working for me during this tough transition…
I’m taking it slow. My first thought was to go “cold turkey” but I realized that might not be the wisest decision. The first step I took was to eliminate my afternoon caffeine, then I stopped drinking my second cup of coffee in the morning, then I switched to one cup of half-caff coffee. That’s the step I’m at right now. It was the right decision to make the change slowly because every one of those steps has been hard. When my half-caff runs out then I’ll switch entirely to decaf. I feel ready for it.
Find Better Options
Sometimes it’s the habit that needs to change but in this case it was the outcome that needed to change. Thankfully there are lots of decaf options because the thought of giving up my morning coffee puts tears in my eyes. I love the flavor of coffee and don’t want to give up that habit. Sometimes the habit isn’t the problem, it’s simply a matter of finding a better option.
Load Up on the Good Stuff
Since I feel a bit icky, I’ve been upping my vitamins (not the doses, but basically remembering to take them). B-vitamins are especially important for my energy levels. I feel better when I take them regularly. I’ve also been trying to eat better throughout the day to avoid any sugar crashes. It’s tempting to load up on sugar to offset the lack of energy but I know a sugar crash would lead me straight to the arms of caffeine and I don’t want that to happen.
Owning My Limitations
The best part about caffeine was being able to push past my tiredness to get more things done. My body set a limit and I crashed through it with caffeine. Sadly, now I see how it was a weapon I used against my body. Without the crutch of caffeine, I have to confront and accept my limitations. I can’t push through. I have to lie down and rest some afternoons. I’m moving slower, feeling tired, and not getting as much done. I don’t exactly like this part of the deal. But this quote has been helping me realize that what I can do today is enough:
“I am enough. We all will just have to accept what I have to give.”
– Anne Wilson Schaef
Isn’t that what it all comes down to? It’s not really about the caffeine. It’s about pushing myself too hard and doing too much. My friend wrote this great blog post about asking: are you living what you value? She posted it as I was coming to my decision about quitting caffeine and it put into words exactly what I was feeling. I always joked that caffeine made me a better Mom but, when I was honest with myself, the aftermath of caffeine was not who I wanted to be. I want to be a calm, peaceful person. It’s what I’ve been working toward, especially hard this year, making wise choices with our time and efforts. Instead I was feeling stressed out and anxious. I wasn’t living what I valued.
Change isn’t easy. It’s been a hard adjustment but it’s been worth it. I’m happy to report that I am feeling better.
Are you making a change in your life? What’s been helping you? Please share your tips in the comments.