Isn’t it great when you feel sharp, alert, awake, energised and focussed? Many people feel like they need their morning coffee, tea, cola or energy drink in order to feel this way, but maybe caffeine isn’t the answer…
Why avoid caffeine?
Negative effects of caffeine:
- Physical and mental dependence
- Post-caffeine crash
- Sleep disruption
- Upset stomach
Of course, everyone is different and some people don’t experience many of these effects but the main concern is dependance – which can leave you feeling really rubbish when you go without. Withdrawal symptoms can start just 12 hours from your last cuppa and generally last from a couple of days to a week.
Symptoms of caffeine withdrawal:
- Difficultly concentrating, brain fog
- Stomach pains
- Stuffy nose
Unfortunately a lot of people misread these symptoms and feel that they “need a coffee” to perk up again. While a coffee may make them feel more alert, they will not really be any more alert than someone who doesn’t have caffeine at all, according to a study done in the UK in 2009. 379 participants (ranging from people who don’t have caffeine to people who have a lot) went 16 hours without caffeine and were then given either 2 doses of caffeine or 2 placebos (90 minutes apart). Anxiety, alertness and headaches were rated before and after this. No group had increases in alertness above the baseline group, non-caffeine users who had the placebo. However, the heavy caffeine users who took placebos experienced headaches and felt less alert without their fix. Which suggests that although your morning coffee may make you feel more alert, it is merely avoiding the negative effects of withdrawal and bringing you back to a baseline – it may not actually make you any more alert than someone who does not have caffeine at all.
So if you’re giving caffeine the flick and want to stay alert and energised, here are some tips:
- Drink plenty of water. Keep a good quality water bottle with you everywhere you go and refill it often.
- Eat well. Enjoy plenty of healthy food like whole grains, vegetables, fruit, lean proteins and good fats. Fish Oil Supplements are great for mental alertness. Stay away from sugary drinks and snack foods. Avoid having big heavy meals as the energy required to digest big meals can leave you feeling sluggish.
- Have an apple. Fruit is quick to digest and give you an natural energy boost.
- Go for a quick walk. The exercise will get your blood pumping and keep you alert – if you can get some fresh air and natural light while you’re at it, that’s even better.
- Deep breathing. Sit up straight and concentrate on taking slow deep breathes for a couple of minutes.
- Be cool. Have a cold shower, splash some cool water on your face or pop an ice cube in your mouth.
- Aromatherapy. Use essential oils that are good for alertness, like peppermint, rosemary, grapefruit, eucalyptus, lemon and lime. Add a few drops of your choice or a blend to a diffuser for a quick pick me up, or mix with water and wear as a perfume. For super convenience, try an energising aromatherapy inhaler.
- Be a little strange. Sit up straight, massage your scalp, squeeze your earlobes and squeeze the fleshy area between your thumb and forefinger. Then have a good old laugh at yourself.
- Put on some music that makes you feel energised and enjoy.