How do you feel after you consume caffeine? As fulfilling as a hot cup of coffee is every morning, for those with anxiety, caffeine can make anxiety worse. Coffee, tea, chocolate and sugar are all forms of caffeine that can increase heart rate, blood pressure and levels of stress hormones in a person’s body. During an anxiety episode or panic attack, blood flow to the brain decreases, and consuming caffeine can further reduce this blood flow up to 27 per cent.
It’s true – consuming caffeine can increase motivation, productivity and brain power. However, caffeine blocks the activity of GABA – a neurotransmitter in our body that is known for making us tired and relaxed. Low levels of GABA are associated with anxiety and panic attacks.
Some people are sensitive to caffeine and don’t even know it! This sensitivity comes from not being able to metabolize caffeine. It’s easy to forget that caffeine is a drug, as it’s widely used and even celebrated in some parts of the world. However, it can cause insomnia, serotonin depletion, and can strip your brain of essential nutrients like magnesium (an essential vitamin that helps prevent anxiety) and B complex vitamins, eventually impacting mental well-being.
Here are 5 alternatives to caffeine that can reduce anxiety and promote brain health while giving you an energy boost that doesn’t drain you of essential vitamins and nutrients.
- Breathe Deeply
Instead of reaching for a midday caffeine-rich snack, try breathing. We’re not joking. Swap out shallow breaths for long, deep breaths – four second inhales through the nose, and four second exhales through the nose. You’ll be sending oxygen straight to your body and brain – a natural and immediate energy booster.
- Drink Ginseng
This fleshy root, often used to make tea, is known internationally for providing natural mental and physical energy, lowering stress levels, improving the metabolism and strengthening the immune system.
- Replace Coffee with Lemon Water
Hot lemon water in the morning is a great way to detox, while also boosting energy by providing loads of essential vitamins and minerals. Lemon water is a great substitute to coffee, as it rehydrates the body, waking up your system and making you feel hydrated and energized.
- Eat Dark Leafy Greens
Dark leafy greens like kale, swiss chard, spinach and more are packed with nutrients like chlorophyll that provide natural boosts of energy. Tomorrow’s breakfast calls for a green smoothie!