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05th Mar 2024

‘I gave up coffee for a month – here’s what happened’

Kat O'Connor

“I need coffee in an IV”

If you watch as much Gilmore Girls as I do then you tend to lean into Lorelai Gilmore’s coffee drinking habits. Remember the episode when Max Madina asked her if she liked coffee to which our favourite Stars Hollow resident replied, “Only with my oxygen”. That’s how I felt about coffee until I decided to give it up for a month.

My doctor has often advised me to steer clear of the caffeinated beverage because I have an anxiety disorder, meaning I’m usually a bundle of nerves without the added caffeine. Giving up coffee was never going to heal me but maybe it would help. However, I couldn’t give up my daily flat white order and continued drinking it and ignoring the fact that it was already making me more of an anxious Annie.

Fast forward to 2024 and I interview Dr. Roisin Colleran about women’s heart health and the impact coffee and other caffeinated beverages can have on our overall health, as well as our tickers. Our conversation inspired me to say goodbye to coffee for a month and it’s one of the best decisions I’ve made in 2024 so far.

Did I pick the shortest month of the year on purpose? Maybe… but it’s been over four weeks and honestly, I’ve never felt better.

Am I constantly grumbling about how sleepy I am to anyone I encounter in the office kitchen as I make yet another mug of decaf? Yes, but other than feeling a little sleepier, I feel better overall.

I feel like a different person since saying goodbye to coffee

Not only has cutting coffee out of my diet made me feel healthier, less jittery, and ever so slightly richer (still no hope for a mortgage) but it’s also had an incredible impact on my mental health. As someone with an anxiety disorder, I’m often in a general state of panic. It’s not fun but I’ve accepted that it’s just part of my life now. I’m wired differently from others, but it looks like my doctor was right in saying coffee not only enhances my disorder but likely made it worse. 

I still visit my favourite coffee shops and catch up with friends over warm cups of (decaf) cappuccinos, but cutting out caffeine has been a game-changer for me. I’ve been dealing with my anxiety disorder for so many years that I nearly forgot what it felt like to feel this mellow and in control.

Since switching to the decaf life, I feel calmer and suffer from fewer intrusive thoughts. I’ve stopped spending hours tossing and turning because I’m too anxious to sleep. I don’t feel overwhelmed when I walk into my office or get on a bus. I no longer feel as tense or stressed out if things go wrong. My mind finally feels like it’s taken a breather and calmed down, and it’s honestly pretty great.

My mental health has improved in just one month

I know visiting Pret less often isn’t going to magically cure my mental health issues, but the lack of coffee has certainly made me feel like a better version of myself. I’m still drinking decaf because it’s what Luke Danes would want, but I can’t see myself going back to the days when I was drinking four cups of coffee a day. It feels like a minor change, but the overall impact it has had on my day-to-day life is pretty remarkable.

I’ve gone from feeling like an exhausted anxious gal who rarely slept to someone who feels calm, at ease and actually sleeps through the night again. My mind isn’t a home for intrusive thoughts to spiral and take over, but feels quieter and calmer and it’s the most welcome change.

I’m still going to refer to myself as a wannabe Lorelai Gilmore just without the outrageous coffee addiction.