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How to Defeat Your Caffeine Addiction

Ten Tips for Kicking Caffeine

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Woman drinking cafe latte.
Petri Artturi Asikainen
Starbucks Sign

Just drive on by....

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gi-hooked-on-caffeine.jpg

Are you hooked on caffeine?

Chris Stein / Getty Images

Wake Up and Kick the Caffeine Habit for Good

Do you need a cup or two of coffee just to get started in the morning? Do you crave more coffee or a couple of colas to make it through the afternoon? While you're reaching for another cup, do you find yourself devouring a donut, Danish, or other fat, sugar-laden treats? If you have answered "yes" to any of these questions, read on and kick the caffeine habit for good, and get back on track with your life.

It is time to be clear and admit to the fact that many of us are addicted to caffeine. We have bought into social conditioning and brainwashed ourselves into believing that we need caffeine to wake us up and keep us going. We need to realize that caffeine, harmless as it may seem, is actually a legal stimulant that causes havoc with our nervous system.

Before you groan, "Not something else I have to give up," please understand that I am not saying that anyone should deny the pleasurable taste and rituals associated with coffee, tea, and chocolate drinking. After all, remember that age old saying: "A little of what you fancy does you good." Instead I am merely offering a reality and perspective that some of us may not have considered. Did you realize that eighty five percent of all Americans drink coffee? Are we in this country running on a caffeine perpetuated false high? Each day we hear more about the effects of stress and many of us long to slow down and take life at a slower pace, yet we continue to race around and experience the symptoms of caffeine overuse i.e. depression, anxiety, restlessness, stomach upsets, nausea, and vomiting.

Did You Know?

Caffeine is a substance found naturally in the leaves, seeds, fruits and nuts of more than sixty different plants including tea leaves, coffee beans, and is also found in many carbonated beverages such as colas. Synthetically produced caffeine is added to certain food products and added to many over-the-counter medicines.

How Much Caffeine?

There is no real answer to this question. Each individual will have a different tolerance level toward caffeine. One person may feel totally wired after just two eight ounce cups, while another may be able to tolerate four, five, or even six times as much caffeine in one day. The answer has to be that we each monitor ourselves, being mindful of the effects of caffeine on our own bodies and nervous systems.

Caffeine is absorbed and distributed very quickly into the body; it passes directly into the central nervous system or the brain. Caffeine is not accumulated in the body or bloodstream, but is excreted in the urine many hours after it has been consumed. It is a fact that abrupt withdrawal is not recommended by doctors, and withdrawal symptoms may include headaches, drowsiness, depression, vomiting, and other symptoms. Instead, gradual reduction of intake is advised although many people find that first switching to decaffeinated products helps them to break the addiction.

The Hooks. . .

Just how did we manage to get addicted to caffeine? There are numerous reasons as caffeine often seems like a harmless quick-fix when we are not getting enough sleep and not making the time in our busy lives to fulfill our emotional and physical needs. Addiction also includes our over-identifying with products and images that are socially accepted and encouraged. It has become noble to always be on the run. "Busy" has come to be seen as important, secure and fulfilled, but is it really? Perhaps the biggest hook of all is that we have bought into the myth ourselves that we need caffeine to wake us up and to keep us going, and have thus become slaves of habit.

Harmless Enough

Caffeine overuse, even addition, may seem harmless enough. Everyone is doing it, right? But there are far greater implications.

Let's step back and look again. When you are constantly wired and running on a false high, you stop feeling and knowing how you really feel. You simply get out of touch with your physical and emotional self. You don't feel tired and know that you need to rest but, instead, you push yourself further and further taking on way too much stress in the process. Think about that blown up bloated feeling you experience when you have drunk too much coffee, tea, or Coke. You feel out of touch with your stomach and that part of your body does not feel good. Then it's easy to continue overindulging even further with unhealthy food.

Did you know that the stomach is the seat of your emotions? This is not just a crazy idea as even psychiatry these days recognizes this fact and often refers to the stomach as the little brain. The stomach is the first place we usually put on weight and often a difficult place to loose weight. Unwanted weight gain on the stomach is unprocessed stress and emotional baggage. The more we stop being able to really feel, the more we stop thinking, and we just put our lives on automatic.

When you are out of touch with your stomach and your emotions, its usual to want to eat something sweet, fatty, and unhealthy. Those treats pair with the caffeine beverages so now you have a comfort eating and drinking cycle established. After a while we simply stop feeling and dealing with our emotions. Instead we find ourselves eating and drinking just to feel good.

Starbucks, cool. . .

Have you ever wondered why Starbucks is so popular? Why do even the spendthrift amongst us pay over the top prices for a cup of coffee? With great packaging and good marketing Starbucks fills a niche in the national psyche. Identification is a major component. We simply identify with our purchases. Starbucks caters to the fast on-the-go customer and to the kickback and relax customer. The ambiance of the outlets is comfortable and feels like a great place to be, personal enough to take someone new, but safe enough when you aren't ready yet to take that new person home.

Starbucks, it would seem, oozes cool and we - the consumer - have bought into that big time. But it is not cool to stress our bodies with caffeine, and it is not cool to blanket our emotions with quick-fix products. The longer we hide our true feelings, the longer it will take for us to recognize our true selves. Isn't it really time in all our lives to stop swapping life experiences and happiness for comfort foods and drinks?

Cokes and Carbonated Drinks

Let's get informed. There is an abundance of information explaining the effects of carbonated beverages on eroding metal. Just think what these drinks are doing to your stomach! Cokes and carbonated drinks contain vast amounts of sugar (or worse, artificial sweeteners), both addictive and easy to overuse. They can cause an imbalance with the blood sugar level, leading possibly to diabetes, strokes, heart problems, depression, and insomnia. Doesn't it make sense for us to start today to kick the caffeine habit and reclaim our lives?

Be patient and use the following tips to rediscover and to reconnect with life and living.

Ten Tips for Kicking Caffeine:

  1. Get more sleep, rest, and relaxation. Make time to fulfill emotional, physical and mental needs.
     
  2. Enjoy wakeup time and change morning routines even in small ways. Breathe fresh air, walk, and drink room temperature water adding a twist of lemon. Tense and stretch each part of your body slowly.
     
  3. Use positive affirmations to kick start your day, your mind and your life. "I am a free and powerful being, ""I love myself completely without condition," "My body clears, heals, and balances itself," "I always have enough time."
     
  4. Switch to decaffeinated beverages. Say "no" to colas and other carbonated drinks.
     
  5. Upon waking, ask yourself: "How am I right now?" Accept how you feel. Deal with what you can in those moments and put the rest firmly aside until later. Refuse to be overwhelmed. Remember depressed actually means suppressed.
     
  6. When that voice inside you demands caffeine, simply break the habit of responding. Drink or do something entirely different instead. Say "no" to the myth that you need caffeine to get you going.
     
  7. If you feel tired, stressed or need a lift, tense your body, breathe deeply and clap your hands above your head four times. Ask yourself what you need right now and fulfill your needs.
     
  8. Make time to relax and enjoy simple natural highs. Get comfortable with feeling good and stress free.
     
  9. To stop the craving for caffeine or unhealthy comfort foods, repeat firmly in your mind: "I am letting go easily of everything I no longer need." Place your open hand firmly on your chest and rub backwards and forwards then around and around in slow circles. Rock your body backwards and forwards. Keep breathing deeply with the mouth open. You will feel comforted, calmed, and soothed, and will have bypassed the craving.
     
  10. Be a leader and not a follower. Make healthy choices while alone, with family, friends, and colleagues. Don't over-consume caffeine because everyone else does. Make conscious and healthy choices.
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