So I would say it is pretty much common knowledge that caffeine isn’t the best thing for us, especially in large doses. I was never a huge consumer of caffeine when I was younger, I would drink soda here and there and coffee and tea occasionally. In the last few years I got to where I would drink a cup of coffee a day as a “treat” full of sugary creamer (ok, yeah, I have a major sweet tooth.)
But when I had my son a year and a half ago, I started drinking mass quantities of coffee every day because I HAD to just to be able to stay awake. I’d go on about 4 hours of broken sleep a night dealing with a new infant, and having to take care of my him, plus my two other kids. It was killer. I needed that “pick me up” just to be able to get through the day and not fall asleep half way through. I would regularly drink 4-5 cups of coffee a DAY. It didn’t really seem to have too many adverse effects at the time, perhaps because I became so acclimated to it that it didn’t hit me anymore and I didn’t notice. Granted I was stressed constantly so maybe I attributed all that to the new baby. I’m sure the coffee made my sleep patterns worse, in retrospect.
Now, I have a better sleep schedule and get more sleep every night (although sometimes still broken since my son sleeps in my bed.) I stopped drinking so much coffee, but find that I still enjoy my morning cup of coffee (flavor wise anyway). However my body is saying NO. I now realize that any time I drink coffee it has a terrible effect on my nervous system. My anxiety level begins to rise as my heart rate gets rapid and I start to feel jittery, my stomach starts clenching up and my nervousness increases. It’s been bad enough that I have had to, a few times, take some Ativan to counteract the physiological effect on my body and get my heart rate to slow and the jitters to stop. That was the case this morning, which is why this is on the top of my brain at the moment.
So, it brings me almost full circle to talk about our moods, and caffeine’s effects on our mental state. Here I am, trying to relax, with my nice warm coffee in the morning and it is doing the absolute opposite to me – getting my body so riled up that it cannot calm itself. YIKES. A crappy, crappy feeling.
There are so many things that we do to ourselves (whether it is physical, such as drinking caffeine, smoking, doing drugs, eating unhealthy food loaded with sugar and chemicals). We don’t even think most of the time about the effect it has on both our body and our mind. Deep down we may KNOW “Caffeine causes anxiety” or “Sugar in large amounts makes me gain weight” or “Too much salt depletes water stores.” Yet we keep on drinking our coffee, eating our candy bars and chips and cookies. A lot of times it is because they are easy, and sadly, cheaper than “real food” like fruit and vegetables.
So one of my goals is to start doing more research into the nutrition element and how it affects our mental health. There is not nearly enough pertinence given to it, and my last counselor mentioned this. She was quite knowledgeable about nutrition (she said that she had ADD and has to manage her food to help manage her mental state.) She noted that it is important for everyone, especially those with a mental condition to monitor what goes into our bodies. I never really gave much credence to that before. I figured “If I’m not overweight, I’m fine.” We don’t stop to think about how intricate the human body is and how delicately it is maintained.
I remember taking an in-depth anatomy and physiology class years back and learning just how involved all these molecular processes are. It’s absolutely amazing how all these things function together. For example, the brain’s primary nutrient is glucose. Without enough glucose, it cannot work to its full capacity and can indeed die. A lot of the glucose we get comes from our food supplies (in various forms). So, if we have a bad diet, let’s say our brain gets too much glucose or not enough. Do you think that will have an effect on how our brain works? Surely. But people don’t think about these things. Today, so much emphasis in the mental health field is placed on medication and managing these things with medication. I’m going to assert that other things are just as important, perhaps even MORE important than medication. But, that is a post for another time J
Just throwing some info out there for you all, to watch how much caffeine you drink, and also to watch the processed food you put into your body. It affects you whether you recognize it or not.