I decided to stop drinking coffee last Wednesday. I noticed that the increase in my level of mental alertness after drinking coffee was followed by a crash that brought me to a lower level than where I had started. Sometimes I would drink another coffee during the day to get another high, thereby delaying the inevitable crash. But the crash would eventually come and I would feel lethargic when it did.
Rather than experience these ups and downs in the level of my mental alertness, I wanted to have a more steady level of mental performance throughout the day. I therefore stopped drinking the 1 to 2 cups of coffee I was drinking each day. I still get some caffeine from drinking tea, but there is much less caffeine in tea than in coffee. I would most commonly drink venti (large) brewed coffees at Starbucks which have 415 mg of caffeine. I now drink grande (medium) green teas which have 45 mg of caffeine.
The results have been great. Although I could feel the clear difference in my brain in response to not getting its caffeine fix on the first day, the strength of the signals my brain is sending has grown progressively smaller. It has now been four days since I stopped drinking coffee and I can already get going without it in the mornings. Equally important, my mental performance is much more consistent throughout the day. My thinking patterns are more stable and I take the time to establish links between disparate pieces of information rather than jumping from one idea to the next.
Beyond the improvements it produced in my mental performance, a side benefit of giving up coffee is that it has made me a calmer person. My mind is less agitated and this helps me avoid abrupt reactions in favor of more premeditated actions. I have greater control of what I’m doing in both personal and professional settings, and this reflects positively on my well-being as well as those around me.
Giving up coffee altogether isn’t the right solution for everyone. First, each person’s reaction to coffee is different because of our different genetic makeups. Some people experience a smaller high from coffee and also a smaller drop in mental performance when its effect wears off. Second, some people enjoy the taste of coffee so much that it wouldn’t be sustainable for them to give up coffee altogether. Setting a new habit is only useful if you can sustain it in the long-run.
For my specific case, giving up coffee is producing great results.