Every coffee junkie has a shirt or mug that lets the world know how unable or unwilling they are at communicating effectively before they’ve had their morning fix. And from one coffee addict to another, I get it, but there’s something you should know about your morning pick-me-up friend: It’s slowing you down more than you think.
While it gives you that immediate boost to your morning, science also suggests that coffee doesn’t necessarily equal energy. In fact, the more regularly you consume it, the more it slows you down over time. So while you may feel spritely at first sip, you may become more easily sluggish, irritable and potentially manic. And if you’re crashing early, it might be because coffee plus anxious thoughts is a classic recipe for low productivity.
Happy Gut, Happy Mind
There are a great many things that affect our guts, not the least of which is what we routinely put into it. Coffee is one of those things that, left unchecked, can do a little damage. Too many cups each day, not enough food to go with it, what we add to it, all of these things are factors in a potentially uncomfortable situation within the bodies we have to live with each day.
In Emerman Mayer’s “Mind-Gut Connection,” he explains how what’s going on in our minds is actually connected to our bodies, specifically our gut area. When you’re happy and healthy, you feel good (or as good as can be). And when you’re sad or mad at yourself for, say, drinking a tanker-sized pot of coffee every morning on an empty stomach, knowing full well the danger of burning a hole in your gut, it’ll gladly let you know that, too. If it’s not by way of unnecessary thoughts, usually negative or anxious ones, in your brain, it will send messages to your gut in the form of strange throbbing, twisted knots and unplanned appendicitis paranoia (or an ulcer).
No More Sugars, You’re Sweet Enough
Your quarantine diet likely already has enough bread, ice cream or anything else that’s good at soaking up those tears so it’s probably alright if you go easy on the sugar, too. Plus sugar-free ice cream is plum gross. You know, maybe that’s it. Try a plum. Or any of the other great seasonal fruits and veggies at your fingertips. Just be sure to wash them beforehand. In fact, be sure to wash your hands while you at it.
While we’re on the topic of filth, go easy on unnecessary additives. Coffee is a natural gift to this world. If you cover it up with creamy half and half, boatloads of refined sugars and caramel glazes, how will you ever appreciate it? That’s not coffee, that’s a circus. Try drinking just coffee, black with a little raw sugar. You might notice a major difference, and if you don’t like it, then you don’t like coffee and you can find yourself something healthier to start your day, like tea.
Kicking the Habit, If Only For a Moment
Speaking of tea, it’s coffee’s great “tea-mmate.” Once you’ve had a cup, even two, of coffee to get your day started, switch to tea or, heaven forbid, water. Drinking coffee into the afternoon will do you no good. It won’t keep you flying high, but, in fact, you’re more likely to go down faster. The 3 PM-coffee crutch is more like a one-way ticket to Naptown.
Also grown of the earth, there’s more than just black and green tea. Actually, if you go down the rabbit hole, you’ll find some amazing varieties in the tea world (white jasmine, green hibiscus, classic oolong), some of which are a hell of a lot stronger than your average coffee, if caffeine is all you’re after. Maybe try Herbamate.
Our advice? Take a breather. It’s summer, coffee is a dehydrator and you’re likely in need of a break from incessant thoughts right about now. Even just a week off, and you’ll have a fuller appreciation for it, and your lowered tolerance might not require a horse trough of black gold just wake you up. But if you can’t do that, there’s always cold brew, which is arguably much stronger.
This is not to say give it up. We love coffee. It has many redeeming qualities, including allowing us to have conversations we otherwise couldn’t in the morning or helping us deal with the endless rollercoaster of life and a full email inbox. But this is to say put some space between the two of you for a minute, learn to miss it more than five hours and come back with a bit of gratitude.
You may notice your cup is full when you do.
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Cover image: prostock-studio (Envato Elements)