In my previous posts, I shared with you two of the 4 reasons why we experience stress. The first one relates to how we perceive situations as a result of how our neural network is configured in our brain. The second trigger relates to blood sugar dips as a result of eating food with a high content of sugar that gets rapidly released in our bloodstream. This article will focus on a third common stress trigger: the consumption of caffeine loaded stimulants such as coffee and most types of tea.
Drinking coffee and tea has become so commonplace in our day-to-day lives that we have forgotten how these seemingly innocuous beverages affect our mind-body system, specifically when it comes to stress. Let us not forget that both coffee and non-herbal teas are categorised as stimulants alongside colas, caffeinated drinks, chocolate, alcohol, energy drinks, cigarettes and caffein pills. There are of course other type of stimulants such psychological stimulants (demanding jobs, horror films, etc.) and illegal stimulants (amphetamines, cocaine, etc), but let us for now bring our attention to the stimulants that most of us seem to have a love affair with.
Tea has anecdotally been associated with stress relief, but the most common types of non-herbal teas such as English breakfast, Earl Grey and Orange Pekoe to name a few, contain caffeine. Caffeine is the most popular and legal psychoactive drug in the world given that it alters brain function and results in alterations in perception and mood. Within a few minutes of ingesting caffeine, your body will release a cascade of hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol, the hormones responsible for generating stress in us.
Research shows that even moderate caffeine consumption makes a person react like he or she is having a stressful day. So if you are currently the type of person who get’s stressed quite easily by situations due to your brain set point (factor 1), imagine what will happen if you eat sugary foods like pastries (factor 2) alongside tea, coffee, alcohol or any other stimulants (factor 3) – the compounded effects will trigger stress in you – no doubt about it.
I know how hard it will be for some of us to cut down on what we regard as the normal pleasures of life. At the end of the day, it comes down simply to a matter of awareness and choice, so ask yourself this question: How do I want to feel everyday?
Cutting down on your caffeine consumption will give you access to a type of energy which is clean and natural and that will sustain you for longer periods of time without any kind of side effects.
By gradually reducing your intake of the above mentioned stimulants, you will take a massive stride in reducing your stress levels – guaranteed.
So here are a few tips to get you started:
– Cut back gradually: drink one fewer cup of tea/soda/coffee each day/week
– Go decaf
– Shorten the tea brew time (which cuts down on caffeine content) or go herbal
– If you are taking pain relievers, look for caffeine-free options
– Keep tabs of your caffeine consumption and read labels
– Partner up in you desire to cut down caffeine – find a caffeine detox buddy that will match your effort
I know many people that have been coffee and tea drinkers for years, to the extent that drinking either of those beverages became part of their identity. I’m happy to report that 100% of those who decided to greatly reduce or eliminate caffeine from their lives, have been amazed at how much more energy they now have at their disposal and how those mood swings they used to experience are a thing of the past.
Would you like to join the club?