I tried to go caffeine-free for 30 days. As most of you know, in August, I started a 30 days caffeine-free experiment. I had no idea what I was getting myself into because so many things contain caffeine. I also underestimated my emotional attachment to drinks like coffee and green tea.
As someone who has an education in addictions counselling, I know how hard any addiction can be. I knew I was becoming addicted to coffee, which was one of the many reasons I wanted to try to go for thirty days without it.
I will admit I did not make it a full 30 days before I caved. I did, however, go two weeks without any caffeine. This challenge made me realize that sometimes I want coffee or tea only for the emotional attachment I have to it. Not because I'm craving it as a substance. I have memories associated with those things. Memories like sneaking a sip of my grandma's tea while she was out of the room. The smell of coffee over a campfire while on vacation with my dad. I have feelings that come up simply because I hold and smell a cup of coffee or tea.
Scent is a powerful force in our memories and emotions. Research is showing that even in degenerative diseases like Alzheimer's, smells can bring back memories. This is a hard force to overcome. I know I will never be able to give up caffeine entirely because of this. I also enjoy the taste (once I add cream and sugar) of a cup of coffee every now and then. For me, I know I need to monitor how much I consume, but I will never altogether give it up.
Kelly commented here on the blog that she has tried to give up caffeine and missed the cozy feeling. I can 100% relate to what she meant. There is a need for those relaxing moments with coffee or tea or hot cocoa. This is one reason I could not give it up fully for the 30 days. I will probably do as she has and switch to decaffeinated coffee when the mood hits me. I will never give up my matcha and tea. I enjoy it too much. What I've learned through this process, though, is to monitor my intake. Be mindful of when and how I consume it.
Everything in moderation.
So while the 30 days didn't go as well as I would have liked it too. I am happy I tried it. I learned why I like it. I was able to figure out that I don't 'need' it every day, but some days I will want it, and that is okay. I could see how it does affect my sleep and my mood. After about three days of no caffeine, I was sleeping through the night, only waking once to use the washroom. My sleep app recorded that my sleep quality had changed from 57% up to 98% most nights after just a few days without caffeine.
I no longer get headaches in the afternoon. I feel much better when I wake up in the morning, and most of all, I am a much more pleasant person to be around at any time of the day.
The biggest lesson I learned in this process is that if something contributes to your unhappiness, you need to evaluate if you need to remove or change it. Even when it's as simple as the food we eat or the things we drink. Once something stops positively serving you, you need to remove it from your daily life or modify it somehow.