Anxiety can sometimes be a very destabilizing and uncomfortable mental place to be in. If you regularly experience seemingly unstoppable and uncontrollable fear and nervousness, it can make it hard to feel like an active and engaged part of the world around you. Although it feel like there’s nothing you can do to make the anxious feelings go away, the truth is that there are a variety of practices and steps you can take to learn how to manage and treat these feelings. The causes of anxiety are complex and multifaceted, and so the solution can not be reduced to a single panacea. One of many things that might be helpful is finding ways to reduce or eliminate your caffeine consumption.
Caffeine and anxiety
Although it’s ubiquitousness makes it appear innocuous, caffeine is a very powerful and addictive stimulant. By blocking the depressant neurotransmitter adenosine, a moderate amount of caffeine can bring on feelings of energy and focus and enhance alertness, concentration, and memory. However, it can also increase a sense of jitteriness and make you more susceptible to stress. Especially at high dosages, the jitteriness of caffeine’s effects can feel physiologically similar to a stressful or frigentining event, leaving you feeling nervous, moody, and insomniatic.
As with any substance, the way it affects your brain or mood may be different than someone else. Coffee may not have an effect on your anxiety at all, or it may be one of the primary causes. One day, after a normal amount of coffee, tea, or chocolate, think carefully about how you feel. Do you find yourself still able to be calm, or are you more jittery or on edge? Are your anxiety triggers felt more powerfully or not? How easy is it to calm down? Does the feeling of your blood rushing make it harder to concentrate on anything else? If you are having panic attacks after drinking coffee, it may be because the elevated heartbeat feels anxiety-provoking. Knowing coffee is the cause can itself help to resolve these fears. If this careful self-examination causes you to see the ways caffeine intensifies your anxiety, it might be good to think about reducing your consumption.
How to cut back, or stop
Caffeine can cause some painful withdrawal symptoms, including headaches, fatigue, and depression, if you cut off your consumption too much too quickly, so it’s best to be gradual. Limit your intake gradually, by drinking one cup of coffee only, or switching to lower-caffeine tea as a substitute. People who have successfully quit caffeine suggest slow decreases by the week, such as taking away one cup of coffee each week, and reducing portions slowly over time. Also, looking at the bigger picture to other anxiety triggers to help more fully support your ability to cope with anxiety. Use controlled breathing and mindfulness techniques to bring your attention back to the present and away from cycles of negative or obsessive thinking.
Alternative energy boosts
Some natural energy boosts are Vitamin B12 or in Ginseng, although you should check with a doctor before using. In addition, you can elevate your energy level naturally with some healthy habits. Things such as a regular exercise routine, falling asleep and waking up at the same time every day, and drinking more water can help you get the energy you need to make it through the day. You can also increase your energy by the food you eat, by substituting sugar and simple carbohydrates for foods high in protein and complex carbohydrates.
Going without caffeine can feel like a daunting task, but it is very possible if you learn how to approach your every day with intentionality and self-care. By practicing making decisions that support your health and emotional stability, you can go a long way towards giving yourself the self-care needed to successfully develop strong and lasting coping mechanisms.