When I was in college, I became highly addicted to caffeine. I drank coffee like water, took energy shots like medicine, and snacked on chocolate-covered espresso beans like candy. I was on a constant mission to feel awake--to feel high and alive so I could stay up with my friends, study hard for school, work my part-time job, and attend all my internships. I needed the regular boosts to maintain my stamina. I needed the constant caffeine to be me, or at least that's what I thought.
After graduating college and quitting my job at a coffee shop (where I had been getting unlimited free cups of coffee), my caffeine intake naturally went down. At first, I experienced withdrawal symptoms--headaches, fatigue, moodiness--but after a while, I started to notice improvement in my overall health. I started sleeping more soundly and waking up feeling more rested and alert. My anxiety level also started to go down. I no longer experienced the afternoon shakes (something I thought was normal in college) and I didn't need food as ravenously as I did before. The less caffeine I ingested, the more balanced I felt. This realization led me to consciously reduce my caffeine intake and become more aware of the contents of my beverages.
One of the drinks I really started paying attention to through this whole caffeine-reduction journey was tea. Until a year or two ago, I naively assumed all tea had less caffeine than coffee. I used to drink a cup before bed every night without thinking, and then would spend the rest of the evening rolling around with a jittery brain. Now, not only do I know the difference between regular and decaf tea (go me!), but I also have learned about the special benefits from different herbs and leaves. In the spring, I often steep nettle leaf tea with local honey to help with my allergies. During times of stress, I like to make a cup of chamomile tea to ease my nerves and help me sleep. When my stomach feels off or I need a caffeine-free way to wake up, I enjoy peppermint tea, and just recently while at the Health and Wellness Expo in Bristol, CT, I picked up a bag of loose leaf tea to help relieve anxiety and depression. The list of different teas and benefits goes on. I am now addicted to learning and discovering more teas!
Swapping out coffee for decaf tea can seem hard at first, but once your body starts to rediscover its natural rhythm and soak up the herbal benefits, the healthier choice becomes clear. I encourage you to hop on the leaf train and start discovering the exciting world that is tea! Check out some unique blends from Heather E. Wright at www.teaandtarot.org. If you're intrigued by the strangely tinted tea pictured above, purchase a bag of her "Feeling Blue" blend. The vibrant color alone will lift your mood!