Is drinking coffee adding to your stress level?

Coffee is the second most valuable commodity in the world (after petroleum). More than 50 percent of Americans drink coffee everyday — three to four cups each, more than 330 million cups a day and counting.

woman-drinking-coffeeEach morning, around 11 am or so, I make my way to the kitchen and pour myself a 4th cup of coffee for the morning, adding a couple of spoonfuls of sugar and some milk. I don’t eat breakfast, my coffee IS my breakfast!

Such was the start of most of my days until after my meltdown in July. I know now this routine was wreaking havoc on my adrenaline system. So much caffeine and sugar is not good for a healthy person, and for someone like me who was dealing with major anxiety issues, it can be even more harmful.

After my meltdown and during my first month or 2 of recovery, I still continued the coffee habit, as I didn’t realize how it played into the mix. During this time I was on several medications, one of which was for anxiety, as needed. It seemed though, that it was “needed” everyday by 1:00 pm. As I was beginning to feel better in other ways (my depression, my energy levels) I wanted to try and wean off the anxiety meds except for extreme situations. I finally put 2 and 2 together and thought the caffeine may be a triggering the anxiety. I made a decision…

wean off caffeine.

Notice I didn’t say wean off coffee! I love coffee! I just needed to switch to decaf and see if it had an affect on me.

How I weaned off caffeine-

-Make pot of coffee but substitute 1 scoop of decaf for 1 scoop of regular.

-Over a week to 10 days, adjust this slowly til you get to the point of ALL decaf.

-Be aware that even decaf coffee has some caffeine

-Found some herbal teas that have no caffeine

-I also reduced the sugar I put in my coffee

-If soft drinks are your “drug of choice” try the caffeine free alternative.

After about 2 weeks I realized that my anxiety level had greatly decreased. I no longer had the 1:00 panic attack that necessitated medication. And now it has been about 6 weeks and I feel so much better than I did! It makes me feel stronger and more confident that I was able to pinpoint something that was a major trigger and be able to relieve it. This doesn’t mean I won’t ever have caffeine again*, I just know that I cannot have it be a major part of my intake for the day.

*I have been able to have a Coke every now and again without issue.

If you deal with anxiety on a regular basis, you may want to review your regular habits that may be contributing to it. Your diet can have an impact too, but I will discuss that in another post!

Do you think that caffeine is contributing to your stress, anxiety and being overwhelmed? Are you willing to make a change and see if it makes a difference?

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20 comments to Is drinking coffee adding to your stress level?

  • I will have to try this and see if it works. I have headaches and am taking some meds “as needed” too. I haven’t noticed that caffinated coffee or soda affects then one way or another, but this week I will try substituting some decaf in with my regular coffee and see if it makes a difference. Thanks!
    Patti B. recently posted..Put Up or Shut Up Why Not BothMy Profile

    bernicewood Reply:

    I am sorry you are having to deal with these issues. I have no problem with people taking medications if there is no other way, however, once I figured out that the caffeine might be making it worse, it was worth a try! It will take several days before you would feel much difference. Don’t forget, don’t quit cold turkey unless you want withdrawal headaches for a week!
    Good luck!

  • Oh how I love coffee and have had to cut it out of my daily life. You offer a great way to cut back on the caffeine. I have tried many ways to end my love affair with coffee – and the one that I love with now is allowing one cup in the morning three days of the week – Saturday always wins and so does Monday the third one varies. My body, my levels of stress, my energy are all affected by the caffeine – but I’m just not ready to live without it 100% …. maybe someday :)

    bernicewood Reply:

    It is good you have figured that out as well, what you can and cannot handle! I am still enjoying my decaf, although I am thinking about giving it up on the daily basis. We shall see!
    Thanks for coming by Aileen, I love your blog!

  • Hi Bernice,
    I too love coffee, but I’m not planning on going off of it anytime soon. I drink to cups every morning and then that’s it for the day. It doesn’t affect me or make me nervous. It will keep me up at night if I drink it after, say, 1 PM in the afternoon. About 7 or 8 years ago I switched to green tea in the morning but after about 8 months gave it up – it just didn’t satisfy me like coffee. I think part of it is the lovely aroma. I’m in love with that aroma! Anyway, I’m okay on 2 cups a day -
    Angela Artemis recently posted..The Amazing Grace of Thanksgiving DayMy Profile

    bernicewood Reply:

    It did not bother me for a long time, I drank it every day for years! If it doesn’t bother you and you know your limits, do enjoy! I love the aroma as well!
    Thanks for visiting!

  • I’m not a coffee drinker but I’m a life-long addict of soda. It’s got sugar and caffeine too! I’ve been trying to wean myself for a long time. I’ll send you good thoughts on your coffee mission if you send me good thoughts on my Dr. Pepper mission!


    bernicewood Reply:

    Yea, I don’t think they make a caffeine free Dr Pepper! Could you slowly make the switch to a caffeine free coke? Or at least substitue a part of them for it? You could even, horror of horrors, mix some CF coke or pepsi into your Dr Pepper! Good thoughts your way!
    See ya around!

  • Like you, I’m also a coffee lover, and believe it or not, I have had a similar experience of anxiety–even depression. Though I did not take medication, I have suspected the caffeine as the culprit. I have tried to remove any beverages that contains caffeine for a week and it has a tremendous effect. The worry, depression and anxiety have leveled down. I still drink coffee: but decaffeinated. :-)

    bernicewood Reply:

    If we get in touch with our bodies, it is amazing what we can figure out. What we put in has an effect on us! It is goo you were able to make that determination. Do remember that most coffee is only decaffeinated around 95-97%, so it not 100% caffeine free. I drink teas someday that have no caffeine and other days I will do some decaf.
    Thanks for stopping by!

  • Thank you sharing your experience. I also made the decision to stop drinking coffee about 20 years ago. It was tough as I drank a lot, but I know the change helped me reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.

    Would you be open to sharing this advice in a brief interview? I think your story would be valuable to our listeners on the Anxiety Slayer podcast.
    Ananga @ AnxietySlayer recently posted..How Playing Detective can Help You Conquer AnxietyMy Profile

  • Hi Bernice,

    I drink coffee in the am (2 big cups) and again at night. As I read over your comments (and acknowledge that sometimes my depression/apathy kicks in strongly) I had the idea that I might need to let go of the caffeine at night.

    I’m going to try that and see. I love drinking something warm so maybe some decaf tea, hmm?

    Bookmarking your site – looks like some good reads!

    Be well,
    Lisa at Practically Intuitive recently posted..Ask an intuitive again!My Profile

    bernicewood Reply:

    Yes, experimenting to see what works for our bodies is a great idea. We don’t realize how much we are affected by food, drink, sleep or lack of…
    Thanks for visiting!

  • Hi Bernice.. New visitor here and am so impressed with everything you have to share.. I’m not a big coffee drinker but I love my cuppa tea. However, these days am trying to reduce that as well and drink more of green, herbal tea than regular black tea with milk. And I feel so much better. Guess, tea and coffee both have the ability to affect our body and mind.
    Prerna recently posted..Simple Planning for Productive HolidaysMy Profile

    bernicewood Reply:

    Hi Prerna!
    I believe that tea has less caffeine than coffee and different teas naturally have different amounts, and then of course the decaf teas… I like quite a bit of honey in my tea, been thinking of trying stevia.
    Thanks for dropping by!

  • I suffer from anxiety and panic attacks and found this post extremely helpful. Thanks for posting. PS. I love your site.

    bernicewood Reply:

    I am glad my post was helpful and hope you will come back to visit soon!

  • Gem

    I am giving Green Tea Decaf a try for this L-theanine which everyone says great things about. Coffee is gonna be hard to drop, but I look forward to a life without it everyday. Who ever heard of drinking black water is good for anyone? lol
    Gem recently posted..Simple Plan for Snowshoe Weekend Family FunMy Profile

  • What a relevant post! I just found your site this week and I also decided that I will be giving up coffee this week also, but now I don’t have to…why the heck didn’t I think of decaf?

    Mondays were the worst day of the week for me in terms of panic attacks and anxiety. I finally figured out why. I only drink coffee when I’m at work so during the weekends I would be caffeine free and then Monday I’d hit it hard.

    Now that I’ve got that figured out I need to come up with a healthy alternative to the flavored non-dairy creamer I use in it to make it taste delicious but I know is horrible for me. I mean what the heck is that stuff made out of, chemicals? Ick, oh, but it tastes so good…

    Great site by the way!

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