Of all the things I've written about on here, none has felt more strange or uncomfortable than the idea of me coming here to say I've given up coffee. There is something about coffee that is so ingrained in not just our culture, but our world, that the idea of giving it up feels like something I should be whispering to you in a dark alley. When someone tells me they don't drink coffee I always thinks, "Wow, really? That is SO weird."
And now I am one of those weirdos.
Just to sit here and write without coffee is very strange. I feel a bit out of sorts, not just from the withdrawals, but because my routine has been shattered. I have been a daily coffee drinker for the last ten years. Coffee has been a source of comfort, connection and grounding for me for a decade.
When I was about 26, I could feel myself going from casual coffee drinker to dependent, needy coffee drinker, and I tried to quit. I only made it two days. I had severe headaches, I was irritable, and in general, it felt like hell. I gave in and swore I would never try again. It wasn't worth it. Plus, coffee has actual health benefits, so as long as I kept my intake low, what reason did I have to quit? It felt like one of those things for obsessively healthy people who are are way too preachy about their lifestyle.
But then I gave up added sugar and alcohol, and I suddenly had more natural energy. I felt motivated to get up and do yoga and meditate at 6AM (which I'm still doing!). Previously, my routine was to wake up and have two cups of coffee and drag myself into the day. But after I changed to yoga and meditation, I didn't want to pour an acidic drink in my stomach. I wanted yogurt and fruit, which gave me more natural energy, and before I knew it, it was noon before I really wanted coffee.
Without really trying, I weaned down to two cups a day. The second cup in the afternoon was only out of habit. It felt bizarre, but it ignited a curiosity in me. I began to wonder how I would feel if my natural energy ruled my days. What if I didn't wake up craving any outside stimulants, but instead, listened only to my body and my feelings?
On Sunday, while at yin yoga, I laid quietly, and I could feel all these subtle sensations in myself I never noticed before. I wanted to know more, to feel more, to feel what it's like to be totally free of all dependencies.
So I bought some decaf coffee, and that afternoon decided I would make the switch. But even decaf has small amounts of caffeine in it, and if I'm going to do this, I'm going all the way.
My last cup of coffee was yesterday at 10AM. It's now 3:30PM the next day, which means I've made it past the 24 hour mark. Since I had already drastically reduced my intake, today has been hard, but not as brutal as before. My mistake last time was trying to force something to happen I wasn't ready for. I had a slight headache today, and yeah, I was really tired, but I can't say all of the tiredness is from a lack of caffeine.
I'm sure part of it is my body processing and changing now that it's been given space to breathe and heal. One of my big motivations for quitting was reading about how coffee drinkers (and others who drink high amounts of caffeine) experience more anxiety. I could not deny that as I weaned down, I felt calmer and more at peace. Apparently, this correlation between caffeine and anxiety has been known for awhile, but it's one of those things that seems to get brushed aside.
I have also been reading about adrenal fatigue, which happens when your adrenal glands begin to give out. Our adrenal glands regulate our hormones, including our stress hormones. The more coffee you drink, the more you stimulate your adrenal glands, and the more your ability to naturally regulate stress gets obliterated (this is part of why coffee increases anxiety). As your adrenal glands give out, you set off a chain reaction that can result in - get this - fatigue.
The very thing I was drinking to wake me up was the same thing that was causing my body to feel tired. And this in itself becomes a chain reaction. Without realizing it, I'd gone from using coffee as a stimulant to being something I depended on just to feel somewhat normal and awake.
While reading about this, I came across a woman who replaced her coffee with rooibos tea (which is naturally caffeine free). She said that after adding steamed milk, it was the closest thing to coffee she could find. I tried this today, and I have to say, it was very pleasant to sit with my cup of rooibos tea in the morning. In the afternoon, I added a teabag of turmeric, just to make it more brown and more coffee-tasting, and it was perfect.
I can only imagine what drinking rooibos and tumeric, which have incredible healing properties for the body, does for me, instead of cup after cup of coffee.
I would love to wrap this up with some beautiful words of wisdom, but I am still a bit brain fogged. However, I also feel really good, like something big has shifted in me. The amazing thing about giving up a routine, no matter how much I loved it, is I make space for something new, and I am always ready for new and interesting things to show up in my life!