Caffeine can help you feel more awake and alert, but consuming too much of it for a long period of time can be bad for your health. Giving up caffeine to reset your body and get away from the highs and lows of caffeine can be difficult, but most people can quickly feel the benefits of a life without caffeine. Caffeine is a drug and, like any drug, to break free from addiction you have to be committed to your plan of action and be ready for withdrawal symptoms and a serious drop in your energy levels.
Get ready to give up caffeine
Prepare yourself mentally. Do you love the taste of your caffeinated drink and the hit of energy it gives you? Most people drink caffeine for one or both of these reasons, but too much caffeine can seriously harm your body. If you can’t stop sipping your caffeinated beverage, it’s probably time to calm down and help your body return to a more normal state. Consuming up to 400 mg is fine, but more than that is too much. The most you can safely drink (but probably shouldn’t) is about 4 cups of coffee or 10 cans of soda.
Think about the benefits. If you drink more than three caffeinated beverages a day, your health can be affected. Caffeine is healthy in moderate doses, but larger amounts can cause serious problems. Some of the reasons to give up caffeine are:
Increased risks of hypertension.
It can stop the liver from filtering out other toxins.
Addiction or dependency.
The cycle of hyperactivity or the inability to concentrate followed by a “crash.”
Disrupted sleep habits.
It can interfere with weight loss and has been linked to hypoglycemia.
The financial costs involved in buying caffeine.
Caffeine dehydrates your body and can cause you to gain weight.
The desire for a healthier pregnancy.
Decreased libido in sexual performance.
Choose a replacement drink. If caffeinated beverages are an essential part of your day, you may need a replacement. Drink more water (it’s healthier and a better option). Switch things up with green tea or sparkling water, but steer clear of sodas, many of which have caffeine.
Give up caffeine slowly
Begin to gradually eliminate caffeine. It is better to start small to give up caffeine. Start by cutting out one caffeinated beverage a day. Do it for a week. If you’re thinking of ditching the morning coffee or soda ritual, consider replacing your caffeinated beverage with a decaf beverage. Then stop drinking a second caffeinated drink a day and do so for a week. Follow this pattern until you’ve completely stopped caffeine.
Makes it difficult to drink caffeine. Allocate your caffeine money at the beginning of the week, so if you overcaffeinate the first few days, you won’t have anything to fall back on at the end of the week. If you allocate less and less money for caffeine as you go, you will gradually reduce your consumption.
Set aside plenty of time for rest and recovery. Set aside a day for detox when you have nothing to do (possibly a Sunday). Make sure you have no commitments or urgent tasks on the day you have chosen. Keep your calendar empty for at least the first three weeks after giving up caffeine. Give your body plenty of rest and include a healthy intake of fresh fruits, vegetables, and multivitamins to include the power of the B vitamin, which produces a mindfulness effect similar to what you’d get from caffeinated products.
Drink water. Regular intake of water will help your internal organs detoxify and keep your body constantly hydrated. Caffeine is a diuretic that can cause people to lose fluids. The effects are mild in people who consume caffeine in moderation, but for those who are addicted or who drink mostly energy drinks, the effects can be much worse. Drinking too much caffeine coupled with low water intake can easily lead to dehydration, which causes many health problems. Try drinking 8 oz of water a day.
Don’t do it alone. Find someone who wants to give up caffeine with you. If you can’t find that kind of support, promise someone you love and respect that you’ll give up caffeine. In this way, consuming caffeine in any form will cause you to break your promise and this will give you an incentive to keep trying.
Recover from caffeine cravings
Get plenty of rest. For many people, caffeine is a way to combat poor sleep and lack of energy during the day. As you wean off caffeine, make sure you get as much sleep as you need each night. This will help your body reset and get used to not having caffeine in your system.
Limit your alcohol consumption. This, in addition to maintaining your water routine, is especially important during the first few days as your body adjusts. Alcohol will dehydrate you and, because it’s also a depressant, will increase your craving for the caffeine boost the next day.
Prepare for withdrawal symptoms. Depending on how much caffeine you’ve had, your body may be at risk of going into shock from going from consuming caffeine daily to not consuming it at all. The following symptoms of caffeine withdrawal are possible and may last for a few days after you’ve stopped:
fatigue and drowsiness
difficulty and inability to work
muscle pain or stiffness
anxiety and nervousness
Look for positive distractions. As your body withdraws from caffeine, you need to find ways to distract your mind. Think ahead of time when you may have your weakest moments (for example, in the morning, when driving near your favorite cafe, etc.) and grab your “security object” so you can get through these moments. A safety object can be something that makes you feel comfortable and helps take your mind off the caffeine. It can be a stuffed toy, a pocket video game, making a call to your best friend, doing a crossword puzzle, etc. You can have as many security items as you think you need, just make sure you always have one on hand.
Increase your energy without caffeine
Listen to songs that have energetic rhythms. If you can listen to music at work, why not put on some songs that get your heart pumping and make you want to dance? It’s a surefire way to beat the mid-afternoon slump.
Turn the lights on or off. Your body naturally responds to changes in lighting, so if it’s artificially dark where you work or sleep, staying alert can be much more difficult. Conversely, if you keep a lot of lights on, your body won’t be able to tell when it’s really tired and will need more rest, since you’re giving up caffeine. Try keeping your blinds open a bit so you can wake up naturally in the morning, or add some dim lights to your work space to keep you from feeling sleepy during the day.
Stop slouching. Slouching at your desk won’t help you stay awake. Sitting in an ergonomic way can make you feel more alert and ready to work. Consider standing up while you work or bringing a yoga ball to the office to sit on. Why not include a seated exercise to boost your energy level?