Coffee and anxiety. Is it time to kick the caffeine habit?

coffee and anxiety

Coffee and anxiety. Is it time for me to kick the caffeine habit?

Without a doubt, this journey to stop drinking was triggered by increased self awareness.

Somewhere amongst the self help, personal development, yoga, fitness and wellbeing stuff I fill my head with – I was becoming more aware of myself.

My journey to not drinking has been well documented on this blog. I sometimes touch on my anxiety, I began to realise I was drinking to manage my anxiety – and I get anxious a lot. Just one of the reasons an alcohol free lifestyle was something I decided to embrace.

But going booze free hasn’t been a quick fix for life (surprise surprise).

My life is loads better, and the benefits are there.

But I also removed my coping mechanism for my anxiety. I’ve actually had to deal with it since December last year, and really notice the anxious feelings I had – rather than self medicate them with a glass of wine.

I have new ways to cope, and I’m leaning on them every day.

8 months in I feel like I’m ready to face my coffee and anxiety problem.

I feel my anxiety throughout my body and in recent weeks it’s felt deeper, more pronounced, harder to shake off.

I’ve tried giving up caffeine before in a bit to tackle my coffee and anxiety problem, only to face dive in to a black americano a few days later.

I can feel a connection in my body between coffee and anxiety – when I drink too much coffee my anxiety is heightened. My subconscious knows but my brain doesn’t want to quit (yep I get the parallel with booze).

I’m hooked. I like the taste. And the ritual.

That first cup of coffee in the morning … and the way it looks … How many hashtags of #coffee are there on Instagram? Can you guess?

There’s over 72 million, 72,698,811 when I checked on the 9th August (bet it’s gone up now!) – coffee is cool and cups on tables are aesthetically pleasing.

coffee and anxiety

But my anxiety is finally overriding all of that. I can physically feel the connection. Recently my anxiety has felt almost unmanageable and I feel ready to try quitting again, a caffeine detox if you will.

I’ve done a bit of research this time and know friends that have given up coffee in search of a more chilled life.

I’m well aware of the benefits of caffeine, and how good it makes me feel and how awake. I need convincing of the benefits of quitting, and the combination of coffee and anxiety, so I’ve done a little research.

I’m not a scientist, I’m an English lit grad with a marketing diploma who teaches yoga. So this research is here to give me the kick up the bum to quit, not to judge anyone else’s choices (and it is most definitely not medical advice):

  1. Caffeine increases stress hormones.

Most people with anxiety would agree they have too much stress in their lives — and caffeine adds to the burden.

Caffeine affects the body much like stress, increasing heart rate, blood pressure, and levels of stress hormones.

Caffeine consumption can more than double your blood levels of the stress hormones cortisol and epinephrine. (2, 3)

I am definitely stressed enough already, I think it’s time for me to put down the coffee.

  1. Caffeine affects neurotransmitter balance.

Caffeine inhibits our calming neurotransmitter GABA. (6) It puts the brakes on brain activity when needed and has been characterised as “nature’s Valium.” GABA’s essential for feeling happy and relaxed – and a low GABA level is associated with anxiety and panic attacks.

Most people have heard of serotonin, it is the neurotransmitter tied closely to happiness. The relationship between caffeine and serotonin is complex but there’s evidence that when consumed regularly, caffeine eventually leads to serotonin depletion. (7, 8)

I could do with all the happy I can get – I think it’s time for me to put down the coffee.

As coffee is my main source of caffeine it’s the thing I feel most compelled to quit. I’ve also stopped drinking diet coke. One decaf coffee a day and lots of herbal tea and water is what I’m prescribing myself.

I’m 7 days in today, and feeling so much better, placebo or effect? I’m not sure but I’m sticking with it either way. An update on my no coffee and anxiety journey to come soon!

I’d love to hear your experiences with coffee, does it make you feel anxious or do you love it? Any tips for sticking to giving up? Send me an email, comment below or chat to me on instagram.

All my love, L xx

*Research Source:

This blog post is lovingly linked to: Brilliant Blog Posts

coffee and anxiety
coffee and anxiety

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  1. Journa Ramirez
    August 11, 2017 / 11:01 AM

    I was raised in a family wherein we don’t drink coffee and other caffeinated drinks. Others may find it weird but I’ve never tasted coffee! Though I’ve tried using body products such as coffee scrub. I’m so happy for you!

  2. August 11, 2017 / 2:04 PM

    This is something I am dealing with. I tend to have a coffee on days where I feel good and don’t have any anxiety symptoms. This means that I don’t have a cup of java every day, but I cherish those days I do!


  3. August 11, 2017 / 6:21 PM

    My husband quit caffeine a year ago. He misses the ritual a ton but other than that the benefits on not drinking it far out way the benefits of drinking it. I have never been able to drink it but I do watch my alcohol levels for the same reasons you quit.

  4. August 11, 2017 / 8:58 PM

    This is pretty interesting. I love coffee, and I have all sorts of anxiety. 🙁 I could totally go to caffeine free though if it would help.

  5. Christina
    August 11, 2017 / 9:22 PM

    I totally relate to this. I stopped drinking in feb (have had 2 slip ups since) and my anxiety really came to the fore front. I couldn’t mask it anymore. I’ve actually ended up taking some medication to address it and as part of that I’m also really noticing how caffeine elevates my stress levels. I’m trying to move off black, to weaker milk and then having tea when I can. I’ve also found decaf helpful when I want that taste. And well done on 8 months hangover free!!

  6. August 12, 2017 / 12:15 AM

    Caffeine can be great and give you the extra boost that you need in the mornings, but it definitely can have its downsides.

  7. August 12, 2017 / 12:25 AM

    I was such a huge coffee drinker. I loved the taste. I loved sitting in my favorite chair in the morning enjoying that first cup of coffee of the day. Now, I quit. And, I feel awesome!

  8. August 12, 2017 / 12:38 AM

    It is tough to kick any drug habit no matter how it is packaged. I can see how coffee can cause anxiety so it is probably better without, good luck.

  9. Terri Steffes
    August 12, 2017 / 2:11 AM

    I am caffeine free after experiencing severe leg cramps. My doc was certain it was from my 3 large comes a day. I have been pain free for 15 years!

  10. Jeanine
    August 12, 2017 / 4:05 PM

    This is really interesting. I dont drink coffee but I am a fan coca cola which has a lot of caffeine and I tend to have bad anxiety all the time.

  11. Wendy
    August 12, 2017 / 4:28 PM

    I quit caffeine when I became pregnant 11 years ago, but lately I have been indulging in iced tea when at restaurants and I definitely feel it! I get heart palpitations, shake, sweat, feel hungry, my anxiety is increased. I need to cut the iced tea out. But since I quit alcohol and I don’t drink soda, it doesn’t leave many alternatives for when I’m out. At home I drink decaf and Rooibos tea (which is herbal) So. I’m all for caffeine free!

  12. August 13, 2017 / 4:44 AM

    I love the smell of coffee but not the taste. It also gives me the jitters so I stick to tea. I don’t really notice any effects from the caffeine in my teas but I think the levels are much lower than coffee.

  13. August 13, 2017 / 12:20 PM

    Every time my behavior is screaming, “I’m so stressed,” my husband asks me how much coffee I’ve had that day. Coffee definitely heightens my anxiety when I’m feeling overwhelmed or tired on my most busiest weeks. Healthy meals and snacks, water and adequate sleep so much better than excessive coffee!

  14. August 14, 2017 / 4:18 AM

    I was raised in a culture that avoided caffeine, and didn’t drink coffee at all until just a few years ago. I have come to love the ritual, but I’m not so sure I love the habit, if you know what I mean. However, I don’t find that it adds any stress to my life; but then again, I only have one cup a day.

  15. August 14, 2017 / 5:41 AM

    It’s nice that you made a choice to change your lifestyle. I’ve decided to do yoga and try different things to help myself cope with anxiety and depression. I love that you’re sharing your journey as well, I’m sure a lot of people will be inspired with what you’re doing.

  16. August 17, 2017 / 8:59 AM

    I used to drink a lot of coffee when I was younger, now I only have one cup a day and drink tea the rest of the time #brilliantblogs@_karendennis

  17. August 17, 2017 / 8:35 PM

    I gave up coffee for good (finally) around 2 years ago and never looked back!

  18. John
    June 2, 2018 / 7:54 PM

    hey Laurie are you still caffeine and alcohol free? would love an update

    • Girl & Tonic
      June 2, 2018 / 9:04 PM

      Yep, almost a year caffeine free and almost 18 months alcohol free!

      • Ross
        June 8, 2018 / 3:23 PM

        Congrats! I’ve struggled for a long time with anxiety and have wondered about the link between anxiety and caffeine. Can you let me know what effect going caffeine free has had on your anxiety since you’ve been off it for a prolonged period of time? Hoping for inspiration to do it myself.

        • Girl & Tonic
          June 10, 2018 / 9:08 AM

          Hi!! It has made such a difference. I don’t get the nervous anxious jitters in the morning anymore and I find it easier to manage when I do feel anxious. Definitely worth making the swap to decaf and seeing how you get on. L

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