Top Tips: Coffee - The Beautiful Corrupting Liquid of The Saints (But is there an Alternative?)
I am a Coffee fiend; most will say that they aren’t the nicest before their morning French Press… I’m positive I am the spawn of Asmodeus before I have had my morning brew (or third… it depends entirely on how late I went to bed the night before!). So, I am acutely aware of my addiction and how it impacts my life and work.
No project can start without a piping cup of the stuff in hand. It is simultaneously a blessing and a curse. My thoughts have even been immortalised in a quote from a dear friend of mine… I think it quite accurately sums up my relationship with the bean.
You have all heard the stories that too much Caffeine can impact your health and your productivity; so, should we all be looking for an alternative to a Flat White (mine is normally with a shot of vanilla if I want to treat myself)? Whilst the NHS suggests four cups a day as a healthy amount; the British Heart Foundation has recently said up 25 cups a day would do no harm. That’s a huge variation. So how do I know if I have exceeded too much caffeine if I am working towards a deadline or working remotely in a favoured Coffee Shop (link). So, Should I (and therefore, you) be worried?
The answer is, like most things are a little vague; so, follow your gut. Are you drinking so much that you get the shakes and regularly experience heart palpitations? Do you think it is a contributing factor towards your anxiety and insomnia? If you have answered yes to any of these, it’s time to put down that corrupting liquid and look toward some alternatives.
Own the Decision You Are Making about Coffee
I speak often about the power of intention and kicking a Caffeine habit is no exception. Saying that you (and to anyone that will listen) that you are cutting down on Coffee, doesn’t help. You need to think realistically about the steps you need to take to make it a reality. Are you a Bullet Journalist? Create a Tracker to help cut your intake and increase each week until Coffee isn’t the first thing on your mind when you wake up. Setting (and writing) intentions stating things like “I will only have one cup of Coffee a day” will mean you are more likely to only have that one cup and not bore everyone to tears hearing about how you’ve failed.
Look at Alternatives
Did you know, chowing down on an Apple in the morning could be just as effective as your daily corrupting liquid? It’s the fruit sugar content (healthier than that Frappé you’re chugging on!) that gives you the boost you need to start your day. There are a myriad of alternatives to Caffeine that could really help you cut it out in its entirety, without making you feel like a zombie.
If Apples aren’t your thing, why not try a morning or afternoon cup of Lemon Water (My preference after 3pm), snacking on some Edamame or opt for a Ginseng Tea instead. It will make you sleep infinitely better than the Latté you needed at 4.
Why not Try Aromatherapy Instead?
Smells have a huge part in keeping you alert, awake and help to influence your emotions.
By diffusing scents like Lemon, Jasmine, Rosemary, Pine and Peppermint are great at boosting your energy levels when the fatigue hits.
Get Your Sh*t Together!
If you organise yourself and your day it will make life easier. Period. Tackle the hard stuff in the morning; you may not feel like it, but you’ve more energy than Coffee lets you think. This will be your saviour during the afternoon slump.
Tasks that require less effort, time and energy should be done in the afternoon, that’s your wind down time, ensure you reward yourself with the easier stuff and the slump itself will be less painful; don’t forget to write your to-do list(link) (hardest first) at the end of the day for tomorrow.
Are You Sleeping Enough?
Being tired means, you are less productive. Too many of us think, if we work into the early hours, we’ll achieve more. Not true at all. This will make you do less and be tired. Pay attention to your sleep cycle. Sometimes a midday nap (if you’ve the luxury of that) can work wonders, but if you are tired you cannot and will not work. When you are tired, your brain cells aren’t able to communicate effectively affecting your motor skills and the fog that clouds your judgement and productivity. More often than not, that fog is one of the reasons you reach for that Americano in the morning.
So rather than relying on your Cappuccino, make sure you get to bed nice and early. The internet will still be there in the tomorrow.
Are You Eating and Drinking Properly?
When fatigue hits and you reach for the Macchiato, have you given any thought to what you have eaten for the day? Your diet has a huge impact on how you think and feel throughout the day. If you start to feel the inevitable mid-afternoon slump, it’s probably due to you reaching for the Percy Pigs rather than fruit, nuts (which are a great “brain food” and are excellent boost for your focus and productivity) and vegetables.
A balanced diet of protein, fruit and vegetables works wonders. Similarly, if you are dehydrated, your body will divert water to your vital organs (like your heart) rather than your brain, which sounds bizarre, but the body is a weird miracle.
When dehydrated, the brain shrinks and a shrunken brain is no good for your productivity! Coffee, a known diuretic does nothing to counteract this. Make sure you’ve got water on hand at all times, if you feel the need for an Espresso, maybe try reaching for the H2O instead.
The rule is, if you don’t drink half your body weight in ounces of water every day, you’re most likely dehydrated. Coffee isn’t always the answer for focused and productive thinking; most of the time you are just… thirsty.
Coffee is a wonderful thing; but it is important to understand the weird miracle that our bodies are, make sure you are listening to it, so you are at your productive best. I still love Coffee, like I said, I am a fiend, but I will definitely think twice before I reach for my morning French Press. Use Coffee as an enhancement to your day, rather than your reason for living and the benefits you will reap are infinite.