check out the toolbox for more resources

on self improvement

I have to say I do love coffee, but not in a "good coffee, bad coffee" kind of way. I am no "connoisseur". To me, there's mostly strong or weak, big or small, foam or no foam, hot or cold. Pretty blunt, but true. 

Even if I come from a country that loves its espresso coffee, morning noon and evening, I never felt truly dedicated to coffee as I see so many people be.

We want to do a lot of stuff; we're not in great shape. We didn't get a good night's sleep. We're a little depressed. Coffee solves all these problems in one delightful little cup. 

- Jerry Seinfeld

While the quote may be true, I'll always rather have a good night sleep than a good cup of coffee. 

Coming to Sweden I enjoyed drinking coffee from bigger cups, that would make the drink last longer and didn't feel so strong either. 

But since I like to experiment with my body once in a while and try different types of food diets, I have become quite conscious about how food and drink affects me in different ways.

This post is about the story of my latest experience with coffee.

A couple of weeks ago, I decided to become more conscious about how I drink coffee and only drink after lunch, after reading that coffee can actually be prejudicial for introverts in the morning. So I was keeping myself on a regimen of one coffee a day, right after lunch or in the early afternoon. 

This particular day I'm going to tell you about, it was a little different. And I started seeing just how different it was when seated on my aeroplane seat, descending to Stockholm. 

The pilot informed us that there were "mild winds" and that it was cloudy. Well, I don't know what "mild winds" meant for him, but to me, those were undoubtedly much more than "mild". The plane was dancing from one side to another, the wings wouldn't keep still, and the EXIT lights were shining bright on an utterly dark cabin. I could feel every move of the plane, leaving my heart more unease. 

I started wondering which exit I would take, and I seriously feared for my life. 

We landed safely, and I thought to myself "phew… this time it was close". 

Then I got on the taxi. And I started fearing for my life again. The taxi driver seemed to be driving carelessly. Still, when I looked at the speedometer, I kept seeing that he was either within the speed limit or just slightly above. 

I contained myself to tell him to drive a little slower, because despite my inner turmoil and fear he was, according to the facts, not driving that fast. Not to mention I did want to arrive home as soon as possible. Needless to say, this had been a very difficult journey and I couldn't wait to feel myself back in the safest place I know: my bathtub.

Only when I got home to that safe environment did I realise what had happened that day.

That weekend, I had travelled to a different city to run a leadership training. And I had started my Monday by drinking not one but two cups of coffee, as I thought it would help me have the energy high during the workshop. 

Then, I had spent the whole morning drinking water, but then drank my habitual after-lunch coffee.

Kept drinking water during the afternoon, but had the crazy decision to drink one more coffee after the workshop, before returning to the airport.

That was a total of 4 coffees when I usually only drink a weak one + a stressful day. 

An overloaded brain

It's no surprise I felt agitated and even fearful. My amygdala (that part of the brain responsible for detecting threats) was overstimulated*. And my inner turmoil was a mix between the fear of facing those threats and the lack of control over the circumstances (I wouldn't either flight nor fight). 

The next day I decided to go coffee free again, and only drink tea. But it got me thinking about those people who actually drink more coffee than their bodies can handle, but simply aren't conscious of the influence they're being put under. That they end up exploding with their loved ones and live with a constant fear of what may happen, without feeling like they have any control (anxiety, hello). 

It's possible to stop drinking coffee

So, if you haven't yet, I truly recommend you rethink your consumption of coffee. It may be affecting you in ways that you'd rather not experience. And it can easily be replaced with another delicious way to warm yourself up. Like decaf or tea (with or without caffeine). 

In the same way that you may have created the habit of drinking coffee and made your body and mind used to that ritual, you can create a new ritual, more conscious and more beneficial. The only thing you need to do is care. Care for yourself and your wellbeing. 

*Jessica E. Smith, Andrew D. Lawrence, Ana Diukova, Richard G. Wise, and Peter J. Rogers (2011). Storm in a coffee cup: caffeine modifies brain activation to social signals of threat. SCAN DOI: 10.1093/scan/nsr058

Continue reading

About the author

Ana Batista is a psychologist focused on making change easy. Besides therapy, she teaches online courses and workshops on positive psychology, brain science, and self-authoring. 


Access the free Toolbox
with resources for peace of mind and clarity of thought