I love the taste of coffee and the smell of coffee; I especially enjoy the ritual of having a hot cup of steaming coffee in the morning. I’ve been drinking two americanos (that’s 2 espresso shots with water), twice a day for about 10 years.
The problem is that lately, I was noticing that the coffee was making me less present, and way more stressed, agitated and even unproductive. The biggest signs for me were my afternoon slump and my unfocused morning.
The afternoon slump always came at around 2pm and without a cup of joe it would completely take over. I would be tired and sluggish. Even with a cup of joe i wasn’t my same focused, calm self that I was in the morning.
In the mornings when I had a cup of coffee I noticed that more and more my warm drink was making me move from task to task sporadically, unfocused, feeling very hurried and rushed for time.
Ultimately I was feeling more and more unproductive.
After doing a 4 day cleanse, where I didn’t drink coffee for those 4 days, I decided not to re- introduce coffee back into my diet. This was probably the tenth time I’ve done a cleanse, I usually do a cleanse once a year, however, this time I couldn’t overlook the fact that I felt amazing without coffee.
Of course, there was some agitation, as with any big change in diet. However my energy never dropped from the morning, so in the afternoon I still had roughly the same focus, and calmness as the mornings.
Being calm is important; in fact the ability to manage your emotions and remain calm under pressure has a direct link to your overall performance.
Irritability and anxiety are the most commonly seen emotional effects of caffeine. Drinking caffeine also triggers the release of adrenaline. Adrenaline is the source of the fight-or-flight response, a survival mechanism that forces you to stand up and fight or run for the hills when faced with a threat.
The fight-or-flight mechanism sidesteps rational thinking in favor of a faster response. This is great when a bear is chasing you, but not so great when you’re responding to an email. When caffeine puts your brain and body into this hyper-aroused state, your emotions overrun your behavior.
In addition, Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University found that large doses of caffeine raise blood pressure, stimulate the heart, and produce rapid shallow breathing. Research cited in the book Emotional Intelligence 2.0 explains that this type of breathing deprives the brain of the oxygen needed to keep your thinking calm and rational.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the tension we all face currently in our lives regarding productivity and presence. At first seemingly at odds with each other – presence can actually make us more productive.
We can be present and productive at the same time. In fact not multi-tasking, and instead being present and focusing on one task, makes us more productive. According to the American Psychological Association, an estimated 40 percent of a person’s productive time is lost due to switching between tasks.
Everyone is unique and your body knows what it needs and wants. Listen to it. For instance I still drink tea, so i didn’t cut out caffeine entirely. Black tea has about 40 mg of caffeine while one espresso shot has 212 mg.
Most Americanos or Lattes have two espresso shots; thats 424 mg of caffeine. So, drinking cups of tea during the day works best for me.
See what works best for you.
Like any habit – it may be hard to break. So you can stop drinking coffee cold turkey like i did – that kind of commitment seems to work best for me – or slowly remove a cup each day.
In a few days or a week you will really experience deeper breathing, time will slow down just a bit and the adrenalin will stop pulsing in your veins – you are not running from a dangerous animal anymore – but you’re actually more alert, more focused, and have more clarity.
Ultimately your more productive, too.