Coffee is a universally loved drink. Italians, Indians, Americans, Kenyans and so many more have their own types of coffee and coffee drinking habits. Coffee gives your morning a good start, gives you energy and helps you focus. However, what is the link between consumption of coffee and anxiety?
Coffee’s main ingredient is caffeine, which is a psychostimulant. A psychostimulant is something that stimulates your brain and increases activity of the central nervous system (CNS). This makes coffee a powerful stimulant keeping you awake and energised.
Coffee and anxiety
Consuming coffee and anxiety have a direct link. When anxious, your brain and body are working on overdrive be it via restlessness or too many thoughts taking over your mind. Coffee and caffeine stimulates your body, increasing nervousness and makes your brain more active. As a result, your anxiety symptoms may be heightened.
Flight or flight response. Coffee and caffeine increases the amount of adrenaline in your body. It’s the hormone responsible for the fight and flight response. When anxious, caffeine triggers this response and can cause an overreaction when the situation isn’t as troubling, worrying or threatening. Hence, consuming coffee when anxious isn’t ideal.
Irritability and mood swings. Consume excess amounts of coffee and anxiety symptoms may increase. These include irritability and mood swings. You may feel annoyed or moody more than usual or in situations where normally you aren’t affected.
Restlessness. One of the most common symptoms of anxiety is restlessness. You are unable to focus, your mind is racing with thoughts and you feel restless. Caffeine stimulates your CNS and brain, making you feel active. Moreover, caffeine consumption blocks a molecule named adenosine, which increases alertness in your system. As a result, you become more nervous, restless and your heart rate is elevated.
Sleep deprivation. When anxious, your mind is already racing with thoughts and your body is unable to switch off for the day. When you consume coffee and anxiety has already set in, it further inhibits your ability to sleep, due to the stimulating effect of caffeine. This can lead to sleep deprivation which comes with its own health problems. Avoid coffee and other stimulating food before bedtime!
How to make a difference?
The simplest thing is to limit your coffee intake in case you have a history of anxiety and feeling anxious. Remember, there is nothing wrong in feeling anxious and you aren’t alone, but it’s important to ensure you don’t worsen the negative effects of anxiety. As with every good and bad thing, moderation is key. Enjoying coffee is normal, but consume it during the day not close to bedtime and don’t drink too much if you feel anxious. Instead, you should consume food and drink that help reduce anxiety and help you relax.
If you want to spend some time enjoying mindfulness with your coffee or tea, try our mindful coffee or mindful chai audio.