Coffee has been a part of my daily morning routine since I was 16.
It was 1999. Starbucks was all the rage. It had the perfect recipe for addiction. The perfect amount of sugar, fat, and caffeine to want our primitive brains to want more. I became addicted to relying on this quick boost, through exams, assignments, and stressful social and family situations.
Many times over the years, I realized that I was sick of it. I was tired of waking up in the morning and thinking of a cup of joe, even before I looked at my loved one’s eyes. I got tired of not being able to focus or take care of myself unless I “self-medicated” with one or two cups of coffee.
In university, I drank so much of it. I’m sure it aged my internal organs by years just from staying up, partying and drinking, not sleeping, and loading up on coffee to pull all-nighters.
Then, I wondered why I was tired all the time… and no energy…
As an adult, this never went away. I’d get to work, coping with headaches, fatigue, and mental fogginess as I rolled into work in the morning. Without coffee, I could never get anything done. Sometimes, if what I was doing was particularly boring, I needed another boost.
Sounds dysfunctional, right?
I temporarily quit coffee for the first time when I got pregnant with my first child. My morning sickness was so bad that it was not possible for me to even smell the coffee. Eventually, though, the habit came back. I was as addicted as ever. I tried drinking decaf. Nope, it didn’t help. I tried weaning myself slowly. Nope. I always went back to it after a few weeks.
I’m proud to say that in 2017, the last time I consumed a cup of coffee was January. It’s mid-August now. Do I miss it? NO. How did it change my life? I’m so much happier. I feel healthier. My mood feels stable. Mentally, I feel more clarity. I draw on natural sources of energy to focus and be productive. My digestion used to be a mess. I often felt bloated or sick in the stomach. I had trouble getting deep, quality sleep. When I consulted a nutritionist in 2016, she told me that my adrenals were running high on cortisol (stress hormone). In fact, my adrenals were completely shot. She told me that my body was crying for help. There, I made a decision. Coffee is now history.
So why did quitting work for me this time, and not before?
I successfully replaced coffee with a set of healthy morning routines: sleep (which cannot be replaced no matter what!), a cup of hot lemon water or tea, stretch, meditation, and journaling. All in total, about 45 minutes. My mindful morning routine replaced the desire to rely on a quick shot in life. I made a few choices to get here. I chose to give myself the time to prime myself for the day. That in itself is a gift. I sleep early and get up early so I can have a chance to ground myself before anyone else wakes up. I create my own agenda before anyone asks me to be a part of theirs. I drink water to gently wake up the body. I do a quick stretch, just a few yoga poses to wake up the muscles. I meditate a good 10-15 minutes, sometimes longer. Then I journal, which sometimes consists of a to-do list, and sometimes a bunch of random thoughts surging out of my meditation.
I realized that my addiction to coffee was nothing more than just a cry for help. It was a dependent relationship, expecting a chemical substance to give me energy, productivity, and mental clarity, rather than instilling habits and giving myself what I need. Not only that, this routine gave me so much more. It has long term anti-aging health benefits. It prevents my body from going into overdrive, preventing me from getting sick. It helps me stabilize my mental state, which prevents depression. When I drank coffee, I had crazy mood swings. I thought it was just my personality. I had an easy tendency to get depressed. The habits that replaced coffee are habits that we need to give ourselves to lead a happier life. When we need sleep, it’s a sign that the body needs to rest. When we need to quiet down, we must be mindful and not undermine our physical and mental needs. It’s part of respecting ourselves.
My coffee-laden self was dependent on not just coffee. It’s was an attitude. I was depended on other factors to make me feel happier and vital. I was dependent on external circumstances to give me fulfillment. The reason why I couldn’t quit was not due to a physical addiction. It was mental.
I’m addicted to my respectful, healthy morning routine. It sets my day. My body is restored. And I’m happier now than I’ve ever been.
Would I ever drink coffee again? Not sure. My body really likes how it feels without caffeine in my body. I started to slow down and be more intentional in my actions. Before, I running around wired on caffeine. Some days I consume tea with caffeine, but I keep it to a minimal. The routine is what gives me the charge to run a busy life of three. I love my caffeine-free life. More than anything, my body and mind thanks me for it every day.