Growing up and all through university, I had never been much of a coffee drinker, though I’d have the occasional iced latte for fun. Coffee never made me feel great – it would make me jittery, or give me a stomach ache, or keep me awake at night, so I never drank much of it.
Fast forward to last autumn when I picked a neighbourhood café to be my daily work spot. I started drinking a big cup of drip coffee, because it was cheap and fast to grab. For the past 8 months, I’ve had a strong cup of coffee every single weekday morning.
Funnily enough, for the past 8 months I’ve also been feeling super anxious on a daily basis. I would always feel like I had butterflies in my stomach, or my thoughts would race even after I’d powered down my computer for the night. I just always felt stressed, like I’d been running all day in a kind of anxious panic, and it would take me a long while to calm down. My daily walks or runs, instead of feeling proactive and soothing, started to feel like a kind of medicine that I had to take to even begin to calm down my nerves.
This all sounds more dramatic than it felt at the time, and of course here I’m not talking about having diagnosed clinical anxiety, “just” these sensations of constant stress throughout my days.
Somehow, some way (it was less obvious than I am laying it out in this post, of course!!) I made the connection and recognized that maybe, just maybe, my daily caffeine intake was having an effect. The truth is, I realized this because on the days that my very kind, lovely barista friends would give me a free refill, the anxious feelings would be through the roof.
Apparently, it’s never my first instinct to look for the simple answer! Instead I had spent all my time thinking about how to reduce my work hours, spend less time on the computer, get more vigorous exercise, read about thought management, practice meditation, do an absurd number of deep breaths, etc. All of these things are great, and important, and I should (and continue to) work on all of them.
But the solution was actually a LOT simpler. I switched to tea, and these sensations are far, far more manageable and far, far less noticeable on a daily basis. Of course I still get stressed, and of course I still feel those butterflies if I’m overwhelmed. And yet it’s much easier to handle. I’m not saying it’s rocket science, but it took me a long time to realize, hey – maybe this problem is actually pretty simple to solve.
The point here is not to get you to stop drinking coffee. It’s to get you (and myself) thinking about where else we’re making the answer more complicated than it needs to be. What other problems might have a simple solution?
Or, as Elise says:
“When it feels impossible, it’s time to find another way.”