How's your week been?
I've made a tough decision for myself. I'm going to give up coffee and the copious amounts of caffeine I've been ingesting in nearly all their forms for the month of June. Why just a month, you may ask. The answer is: it's a challenge. What is a man if he doesn't test himself? He's a boat who has never sailed on stormy seas. He is a strong pair of hands who has never lifted a blog. Simply, a man isn't a man unless he tests himself. And yes, you're goddamn right I'm being dramatic.
Since I'm neither strong, nor a boat, I try to push myself to see my capabilities (and go beyond them) in other ways. Until I've the means to fully control aspects of my life, I've got to start small. Starting small, to me, is seeing if I can give up coffee and multiple caffeinated drinks. My limit is one tea per day. Green tea, at that. Let's get down to the science first before I wrap it up in a philosophical blanket.
A double shot of espresso has 150 mg of caffeine. I normally would get down with a double or triple to start my day. A single cup of coffee (475 ml, or 16 oz) has around 180 mg of caffeine. One of those is already a lot. But I've been known to have always one, often two, and rarely three of those per day totaling between 150-500 mg of caffeine per day. I typically also take a black tea after dinner without fail every day (8 oz, around 50 mg making my total 200-550 mg per day). I know people who have more than that. I'm not here to say that I've got it bad, and I can only speak for myself, but when I have a coffee I feel anxious and stressed easily.
I've a theory that there are certain types of people who prefer stimulants, and certain people prefer depressants. The theory ties into how anxious and high strung of a person you are. I believe more anxious and high strung/stressed people tend to prefer depressants to take the edge off and let their brain sit still for a moment. Those who duck and weave stress and anxiety like a pro boxer, and often feel bored and unstimulated tend to want stimulants more often. I'm the type who feels stress and anxiety more than other people, so slapping me with stimulants is a good primer for me to burn out, or do/say something I'd regret out of stress or anxiety.
So really, cutting my caffeine is for mental health reasons more than physical health reasons. I'm allowing myself to have a green tea every day (8 oz green tea is around 20-30 mg caffeine). The reason for allowing green tea is because green tea has objective health benefits. Green tea has L-theanine, an amino acid in the tea leaf (not found in coffee) that is used for regulating mood and reducing anxiety. Its effectiveness decreases with the darkness of your tea; white tea has the most, black tea has the least. Also, green tea has ECGC which has a whole load of health benefits.
The idea to quit coffee came from a friend of mine who also decided to cut it after realizing it really caused him stress. I remembered patterns I noticed when I'd have more caffeine and I found I also felt a lot of extra stress and anxiety with increased caffeine. Again, I know people who have a lot of coffee throughout the day and if you're that type of person, and you can roll with it, keep drinking it. I'm sad to give up coffee because good fuck it's delicious. I'll miss the flavours, the shared experiences around a cup of coffee, and the beautiful aroma that comes from making my favourite cup. But sometimes, you've got to let go of the things you love to embrace something better. I'm on a journey to improve my mental health, because this year, anxiety and stress have both had their way with me and I'm starting to fight back.
It won't be easy, and for the past week it hasn't. I've really felt myself crave it. Withdrawal is a cruel mistress, but in the end, it's worth it. Coffee started as a crutch to get me through early classes in university, and carried over into my work life as a social link I made with people. But now I think it's time to close the chapter on it. At least for a month. In July, I'll decide if I want to keep it out for good. But for now, green tea will have to do the job.
Is there anything you're trying to give up? Let's have a chat about it.