This article originally appeared on Live in the Now.
Anyone who has ever been addicted to coffee (or anything) knows that quitting is no easy task! The symptoms of caffeine withdrawal range from pounding headaches, crippling fatigue, irritability and depression to cold and flu like symptoms and muscle pain. If you can make it through the withdrawal period, which, according to Johns Hopkins researchers, lasts only about nine days, you can look forward to:
- Deeper, more restful sleep
- Waking up feeling refreshed with lots of energy
- Calmer, more focused thinking
- More balanced moods
- More stable blood sugar
- Healthier hormone balance
- Clearer skin and eyes
- Increased sex drive and fertility
- Improved immunity
- Healthier adrenals (which means you’ll handle stress better)
- Lower blood pressure
To be fair, there are plenty of studies that have demonstrated coffee’s health benefits, but so far, none have been particularly compelling. Most have merely shown a correlation between drinking coffee and reduced risk for certain specific health problems, such as liver disease, Parkinson’s and depression.
According to one study, coffee is the number one source of antioxidants in the SAD diet. My personal belief is the health benefits of regular coffee drinking are probably lost on anyone who eats a very clean, antioxidant-rich diet. It’s also my personal belief that if you enjoy drinking coffee and truly believe that you do not experience any negative effects as result, you should continue to enjoy drinking coffee. As with all dietary dogmas, it’s important to remember that what’s good for one person may be disastrous for another.
Here are 11 practical strategies that you can use to go coffee-free:
#1: Get your caffeine from leaves.
If you’re not ready to go cold turkey on caffeine, I recommend investing in some high-quality green (or black) tea, guayusa or yerba mate (caffeinated rainforest herbs). I’ve found that it’s well worth it to spend extra on a higher quality product if you’re intending for it to replace your beloved morning cup of coffee. This has been the most effective strategy I’ve used in the past when I’ve stopped drinking coffee. The caffeine found in green tea, guayusa and yerba mate leaves is chemically different from that found in coffee beans and, while still energizing, won’t make you nervous or jittery like coffee can (when consumed in moderation).
#2: Make a superfood elixir.
Combine nutrient-dense superfoods like cacao, berries, bee pollen, nut milks and coconut oil with adaptogenic herbs (see #3 below) and a natural sweetener like honey.
#3: Support your adrenals with B vitamins and adaptogens.
Caffeine and stress tax your adrenal glands and deplete your body’s stores of B vitamins, but you can easily replenish your levels by taking a B complex supplement. You’ll notice the effects immediately. You can also support your adrenals with adaptogenic herbs like maca, ginseng, reishi and chaga mushrooms, rhodiola, holy basil and schizandra. These herbs have been used for hundreds of years throughout the world to combat fatigue and increase stamina.
#4: Try amino acid therapy for mood and energy support.
Treating amino acid deficiencies can improve neurotransmitter balance, leading to healthier mood balance and more energy. Many people have used the amino acid D, L-Phenylalanine (DLPA) to ease caffeine withdrawal symptoms. According to blogger Elizabeth Walling of The Nourished Life, L-glutamine, tryptophan and tyrosine are also helpful for improving energy and mood.
#5: Get hydrated.
You might be surprised at how much more energy you will have if you provide your cells with the fluid and electrolytes they need to function optimally. Increase your consumption of high-quality water and things like coconut water, fresh juice and food with a high water content (things like cucumbers, melons and other fruits, celery, lettuce, etc.)
#6: Bend over backwards.
Many yoga poses are designed to be energizing, but back-bending poses in particular can be helpful for boosting your energy. After warming up, hold wheel, bridge or bow for 4-10 breaths. Or ask your yoga teacher to teach these postures.) YogaJournal.com has a great free guide to backbends, along with other yoga poses.
#7: Pump up the jams.
Turn on some music and have a spontaneous dance party. You may feel silly, but there’s no chance you won’t feel energized after doing this.
#8: Wear red.
Research has shown that simply looking at the color red energizes us.
#9: Take a cold shower.
Cold showers are quite invigorating, though sometimes hard to get into if it’s not hot outside. At the very least, take a hot shower and turn the water cold for a few minutes before you get out.
#10: Hang out with energizing people.
Call up someone who makes you laugh and feel good about life. Avoid people who seem to suck the life out of you. See: How to Protect Yourself from Emotional Vampires
#11: Cross something off your to-do list.
Finish something you’ve been meaning to get done. Whether that task is writing a book, doing your laundry or something that seems self-indulgent like buying something for yourself or planning a vacation, you’ll feel energized by completing it.