Courtesy Alison Lundberg
Some 18 percent of Americans suffer from anxiety, according to the National Institutes of Health, but Alison Lundberg wasn’t one of them—until a personal tragedy a few years ago left her riddled with anxiety on a daily basis. “It was just a general sense of anxiety,” she explained about her feelings after unexpectedly losing a family member. She felt jittery, restless, and emotional. “I had never experienced the problem, so I wanted to quickly take action to stop the uneasiness.” A therapist suggested cutting caffeine, and Lundberg agreed to give it a try.
In fact, it’s well known in the medical community that caffeine can actually trigger anxiety attacks, as it stimulates the body’s “fight or flight” response, according to Everyday Health. “I was looking for alternatives to prescription medicine,” she shared about her journey to a caffeine-free lifestyle. “I wanted to look at ways to cut stimulants, and anything I might be consuming that triggered anxiety.” It wasn’t easy though, because Alison admitted to a daily routine of Diet Coke and coffee before being faced with her traumatic loss.
“I was not afraid to start each day with a Diet Coke and continue drinking throughout the day, with coffee serving as a treat, whether it was meeting up with friends or to cap off a delicious meal,” she says. It was this routine, everyday consumption that made cutting caffeine so incredibly difficult. Still, Lindbergh went cold turkey on soda and coffee, replacing colas with sparkling water and coffee with calming herbal teas. “The first weeks were challenging. The dependency was real. It was also the habitual acts like taking comfort in sipping a hot cup of coffee on a Sunday morning, or knowing I needed to power through a meeting.”
The positive results came quickly, though, and improved with each passing day. Alison soon noticed decreased anxiety and increased overall energy—two side effects she was more than happy to have instead of a hot drink on a sleepy weekend morning. “After the caffeine was out of my system and the headaches proved to be just temporary, it took a bit of time but my body started providing plenty of energy for me to be successful in my day.”
The physical effects helped Alison jumpstart her personal stress management and confidence makeovers too. “It’s an amazing feeling to be free of any addiction, big or small. To no longer be dependent makes you feel incredibly independent, and the natural energy I’ve found is much more satisfying than anything chemical. I absolutely noticed my anxiety lessened, and I was able to have a stronger grasp on controlling my emotions.”
Could you be drinking too much coffee? Mind the signs that you could be over-caffeinating.