How to give up caffeine in 7 days
How I did it:
1. You need to first have a desire to give up caffeine. To be clear, I absolutely loved coffee with a strong passion, the stronger the better! It started my day and kept me going. However, I recently started to notice my heart racing (at only 36 years old, yikes!) and with a stressful job on top, it was a recipe for disaster. In addition, I didn't like the fact that caffeine owned my soul. If I was on holiday, I needed to search out a coffee location before doing anything else, otherwise, I was cranky.
Your specific type of caffeine can be varied: coffee, tea, chocolate, soda, etc.
Your reasons to give up caffeine can be varied: health improvements, to save money, to sleep better, or for religious reasons, for example. The important thing is that you have a reason in mind.
2. Day 1: Decide: 'cold turkey' or gradual? I decided to try and slowly wean myself from the web of caffeine. On the first day I cut back a by 25%, and then on the second day another 25%, and so on, until I was down to one very weak cup a day for a few days. I spent a few days being very fuzzy in thought. Then I had a bad day and went back to my old habits.
On the next round, I tried again by one day planning in advance to completely stop, and that is what did the trick. In comparing both methods, this definitely worked better because:
- I could put the coffee away, out of sight is out of mind, rather than getting a tempting whiff of it each morning.
- The withdrawl process was faster, so ultimately it was a few bad days and then it was done, rather than the gradual method that can easily take you two weeks.
3. Days 2-4: Be gentle with yourself
It may be wise to schedule day 1 on a Friday, then you have the weekend (if you do not work the weekend), to sleep late and take naps if needed. Allow yourself to have caffeine-free aspirin in these days or anything else that eases the withdrawl. A few other thoughts:
- buy some herbal tea so that you can have a warm drink in your hand in the morning to ease the transition. There are some interesting herbal teas available these days, much more than only Celestial Seasonings, although I'd recommend their Herbal Tea Sampler.
- Take the time to start some exercise, such as a walk in the sun, to help your body to wake up and acclimate to life without caffeine.
- Keep aware for other sources of caffeine such as chocolate, coca cola, etc.
- Be prepared to go to bed early if you feel tired.
4. Days 5-7 Keep it up!
At this point you'll start to recognize the benefits of making this change. I was able to fall asleep and sleep through the night without interruption at this point, something I was not able to do in the past. In addition, my mornings started to become easier at this point--it was not such a drag to get out of bed, the caffeine dragon was finally slayed by day 7.
Update: Since doing all of the above, the racing heart stopped and I feel much better. Occasionally I will have a black tea, especially in the case of jet lag. However, I am careful to limit it to one per day, and only in the morning.
Do I ever miss coffee? Yes, certainly, I missed that sparkle of energy that came along with a strong cup of coffee, especially if I had it while doing a big project or paper. However, I find that I'm much calmer now, and in particular, I feel better that I don't 'need' the caffeine rush.
Tip: Avoid green tea as a coffee substitute; green tea is the most caffeinated of any tea, and some green teas have more caffeine than coffee!