At the suggestion of one of my doctor’s, I was told to quit all caffeine, totally, for three months. No coffee, no chocolate, no tea unless it was specifically labeled ‘caffeine free.’
Up until this point in my life, I was an avid caffeine proponent. I drank a diet coke every day from senior year of high school through my senior year of college, when I finally began to incorporate coffee with milk in the morning, and a diet coke in the afternoon. Eventually, I replaced my afternoon diet coke with a cup of green tea, you know, for health. I won’t even get started on my chocolate habits. So essentially, caffeine has been a vital part of my every day functionality for the past 10 years. I am NOT a morning person, and consider myself a danger to others as well as to myself when not promptly and properly caffeinated. I have brushed my teeth with hydrocortisone. I have applied eyebrow gel as mascara. I have put in my roommate’s contacts. I wouldn’t even drive my car without a cup of coffee in me first for fear of what would happen.
So, when first starting the caffeine detox, I weaned myself off slowly throughout the course of the week to try to avoid any withdrawal symptoms – half a cup of coffee in the morning, and a cup of tea in the afternoon. Then half a cup of coffee, no tea in the afternoon. Then a quarter cup in the morning. Then nothing, just darkness.
I read a lot of about breaking caffeine addiction and what to expect, and I was fortunate to avoid any major headaches or fatigue… but boy oh boy was I grumpy!
I didn’t just miss coffee, I mourned coffee. It was like having your best friend move away to a town without Internet or paper or pens or even a post office so there is just no connection between you two, only the sweet memory of what once was. About three weeks in, I turned the corner. Mostly. Or I turned most of the corner and hung out there for a while. My natural energy started to kick in and I wasn’t as groggy in the morning. In fact, I became pretty functional in the morning. My cravings mostly subsided. I didn’t crash in the afternoons. I didn’t crash my car driving into work in the morning. Everything seemed to be going well. A month passed, and then two. And I was fine. Really. But I still missed coffee- the smell, the taste, the way I would curl up with my cup and have a quiet time or read or just take in the day. I came to realize that coffee was perhaps the one self care habit I had perfected- and now that ritual was gone, I felt like life has lost some of its shine.
Two months in, things started to get worse. I didn’t need coffee anymore, but I wanted it. Really badly. Life literally did not seems as good as it had before. I started to think – why in the world do I need a cup of coffee to feel good about my day? Why do I need to drink coffee or eat chocolate to ‘treat’ myself? If my body can do this ‘being awake’ thing on it’s own, why am I not letting it?
Good questions. I began some serious soul searching to find the answer.
Why in the world do I need a cup of coffee to feel good about my day?
We know that every good and perfect gift is from above- God gives us so many wonderful things in this world! Yes, coffee is pretty great. But there are a lot of other great things that I encounter during my day- my time in the word, the comfiness of my bed, listening to my favorite music on Spotify. These are all sweet, God given moments that I should recognize and celebrate.
Why do I need to drink coffee or eat chocolate to ‘treat’ myself?
Don’t get me wrong- coffee and chocolate are truly two of the best food groups and I don’t think indulging in them is any way wrong. But everything needs to have a rightful place in our lives. And I think God has been teaching me a lot about that recently- coffee is great, but it has a rightful place, and that place is not at the top of my ‘Things that Sustain Me’ list. God is at the top of that list. And chocolate is you know, chocolate, but it shouldn’t be the thing I have to have to be joyful and fulfilled. God is that thing! He has given me everything I could ever possibly need. All of the wonderful extras are just that – extras. Gifts from God for me to receive with thankfulness. And trust me, I am very thankful for coffee and chocolate now.
If my body can do this ‘being awake’ thing on it’s own, why am I not letting it?
Well, this one was the most telling. I have actually really enjoyed not needing caffeine every day to function. Since we were on vacation for 3 weeks in December, it made mornings super easy- I got ready faster, and enjoyed morning activities more. While on the coffee, I didn’t fully wake up until 10 or 11 (yikes). Without caffeine, I was usually good to after about 30 minutes of getting out of bed.
Well, I’m proud to say, I completed my three month caffeine hiatus as of Monday, but I cheated (just a wee bit) and had my first cup of coffee on Saturday morning.
And. it. was.
Just look at that beauty!!! I keep it really simple with coffee- just a little splash of almond milk is all I need.
I had pretty much the best quiet time I’d had in months. Will made us breakfast, and we sat around chatting for a while before I burst into tears because I couldn’t contain my joy any longer. It was that good.
So, here is what I have decided moving forward:
I am going to reserve coffee for Saturday mornings for now so I can fully enjoy my cup. I might begin allowing it to creep back into my schedule eventually, but I don’t want to go to back to drinking it everyday. If my body can wake up on it’s own, I’m going to let it. And I’m going to expand the ways that I practice self care- such as making a point of getting into bed a little earlier to read at night, or setting up a weekly time to paint my nails.
And I’m going to really, really look forward to Saturday mornings.