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Caffeine and Stress

by Matt
(London)

Sometimes, making some small and simple changes can help to make your life less stressful!


Quite recently I was working in a job that just did not suit me (for so many reasons, but that's another story). What I hadn't realised though, was just how much my use of caffeine was adding to my stress levels.

Imagine you are walking to work and you are not looking forward to the day ahead at all. You worry about the job a lot and you feel trapped. So for now, you'll pop into the coffee shop for a caffeine boost to help kick start you for the day (and to put off the inevitable for just a few moments longer!).

Then, as you walk into the office, there's that sick feeling of dread again. Your head is racing, you feel like you're having palpitations and you feel all shaky inside. This is horrible. You really hate this place and feel like you just want to run away!

During the day as you feel things are getting on top of you, you take a break with another refreshing cup of espresso. But those feelings of anxiety just keep plaguing you all day long.

Well that was me every day for more months than I like to admit. Until I realised what was pretty obvious. And that was that my regular doses of caffeine weren't actually helping me at all.

In fact it was making me feel a whole lot worse. Yes, this still wasn't the right job for me. But I was associating a lot of those feelings of fear, trembling and the sweats with how I felt about the work itself.

Giving myself a hearty dose of caffeine was just exacerbating all my feelings of stress and anxiety!

Caffeine raises your heart rate and body temperature, which in the right circumstances can help you perform better and sharpen your thinking, temporarily. But if you are already feeling anxious or worried then that's the last thing you need! And some people (like me) tend to bit a bit more sensitive to caffeine than others.

So, I was using a visit to the coffee shop as a form of avoidance. I associated coffee with the comfort of being away from the office. But it was only when I changed what I drank to something caffeine free, did I notice that my feelings of anxiety greatly reduced.

Having a few caffeine drinks during the day usually won't do any harm to your health. But if you are experiencing anxiety and unhealthy stress levels, then it could well help to cut down on your caffeine use.

You can still enjoy your espresso, but keep it to only two or three in a single day, maximum. Try decaffeinated drinks instead or fruit juices or mineral water.

Okay, for me, the job still wasn't right and that was another issue I had to tackle, but I didn't feel such horrible feelings of dread and anxiety any more. I was then better able to make some plans for my future.

You can find out more about the connections between lifestyle and stress at www.stress-relief-workshop.com/healthy-lifestyle and find out how our Stress Relief e-course can help you tackle stress in every aspect of your life, enabling you to feel more relaxed and in control.

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