Eight years ago, I struggled with anxiety; I was down and depressed. I thought: Why? At the time, I took a step back and it struck me there were three things that I wanted to change.

I felt like I couldn’t start the day without caffeine. I drank so much coffee to crank myself up, roughly around 6 cups a day, and by the time evening came, I felt I needed a stiff drink to calm myself down again.

In the middle of the day, I’d sometimes eat a lot of food with refined sugar to help with my energy dip.

Don Egan Coffee Addiction
Don Egan pictured (L). Woman sleeping head on desk showing disposable cup of coffee isolated on blue background (R). Caffeine addiction concept.
Don Egan/Getty Images/Egoitz Bengoetxea

It struck me that maybe my anxiety and feelings of depression were linked to what I was eating and drinking. Initially, I had the idea of giving up caffeine, alcohol, and refined sugar all in one go.

If you’re a regular caffeine drinker, you’re going to get a blinding headache when you’re trying to give up, which is what happened to me after the first 24 hours of quitting coffee.

But within 48 hours, I suddenly felt calmer as the caffeine left my system. My anxiety began to fade away, which was a big improvement.

I believe that caffeine is the most psychoactive drug on earth, and it’s universal. One of the problems with caffeine is it triggers a fight or flight response that we get when we’re in danger by releasing adrenaline and cortisol into our system.

I don’t think it’s healthy for us to keep our bodies on high alert all through the day. That’s why I experienced anxiety for many years.

Most days, I don’t get stressed. The last six months have been stressful for me in general, but I haven’t remotely felt the stress I used to feel when I was drinking caffeine.

I also found that caffeine enabled me to drink more alcohol. When I was drinking coffee, it hyped up my anxiety so much that by the time the evening came, I needed to drink alcohol to calm me down.

So, for me, quitting caffeine was a great step toward quitting alcohol too.

I currently drink decaf coffee. I know a lot of people who give up caffeine don’t do that, but decaf has roughly 2 percent of the caffeine in it; it’s such a small amount that it doesn’t remotely have the effect that fully caffeinated coffee has.

I live a calmer, stress-free life. I also don’t go to the restroom as much because coffee dehydrates you.

I believe that many of us who are living in the modern world have information overload. For me, the last thing I need is to drink a drug that stresses me even more and puts more strain on my body, mind, and spirit.

A lot of people like espresso, which is really strong, but for me, it wasn’t espresso, it was depresso.

Don Egan is a freelance spiritual coach and author of several books. He’s lived without caffeine and alcohol since 2017.

All views expressed in this article are the author’s own.

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