I was always a huge coffee drinker. I’d wake up in the morning and the first thing I would do was make myself a double-shot of espresso (sometimes a triple-shot) before starting my day. Rinse. Repeat.
I did this every morning. For years. Coffee wasn’t just a drink for me, it was quite literally part of my daily routine; a necessity that I couldn’t go without or it would throw off the rest of my day. It gave me the energy I needed to tackle my ever-growing to-do list, and my fellow CEOs know how important constant productivity is to success.
But then I noticed my coffee intake started to increase significantly. Except, the more coffee I drank, the more jittery, anxious, and sleep-deprived I felt. This is when I realized that coffee wasn’t actually the solution to my productivity, but a crutch to my energy. It made me feel more burnt out, stressed, and depleted than I’ve ever felt before. I was irritable for no reason, tired despite going to bed at reasonable times, and just not as happy as I should be.
I knew I had to make a decision: stop drinking coffee or continue feeling miserable. So I quit. Cold turkey. And I’ve only had a single cup of coffee in the past two years.
Admittedly, the first couple weeks off coffee were more difficult than I anticipated. The headaches and fatigue were overwhelming, and I felt like I was working at a snail’s pace. But then one day it stopped. The withdrawal symptoms (yes, caffeine is a drug) went away and I stopped craving coffee altogether. Then came the elevated moods. The ability to think more clearly. The higher level of focus. And I was checking tasks off my to-do list at a surprising rate. I felt more productive than I’ve felt in a long time.
This got me thinking. What changed? How could coffee have had this much of a hold over me for so long? So I started researching the mind-body connection and realized just how much our thoughts, feelings, and beliefs are tied to our biological functioning. And on the flipside, how we treat our body directly impacts our mental state.
When I was drinking coffee, I wasn’t actually nurturing my focus and energy. Quite the opposite. I was slowly training myself to rely on caffeine to do my job, which caused a lot of detriment to my mental and physical health. Productivity isn’t contingent on a stimulant. Instead, it’s about treating our minds and bodies right.
When we develop healthier eating habits, get enough sleep, exercise, meditate, etc., we allow ourselves to naturally massage our stamina. Neuroscientists have studied how even mental exercises like meditation and gratitude can directly impact our abilities to strengthen our mental and physical health and help us become better people.
When I tell my colleagues that I don’t drink coffee, they look at me like I have two heads. But I don’t hit ‘walls’ throughout the day that can only be rectified with another cup of coffee. I don’t have to drink coffee the second I wake up because I feel sluggish and unmotivated to get started with my day. I don’t get irritated at the slightest mishaps. But most importantly, I feel more like myself.
I can’t lie to you and tell you that quitting coffee was easy, but cutting coffee out of my life completely over two years ago was one of the best decisions I ever made for myself and my company. By improving the connection between my mind and body, I now have more energy than ever. And I wouldn’t change a thing.