Updated December 27, 2018.
An estimated 83 percent of American adults drink coffee—most on a daily basis. In fact, we love coffee so much that we spend $40 billion on it every year! And yet, quitting coffee consistently remains among the top New Year’s resolutions.
Whether you intend to kick the habit for good, or simply take a break, these suggestions will help you face the day without coffee
1. Work Out When You Wake Up
From counteracting feelings of stress and normalizing sleep patterns to improving your mood, working out in the morning releases endorphins that make you feel energized and starts the day on a positive, healthy note.
Put It into Practice: Keep yourself accountable by signing up for a class or working out with a friend.
2. Go Outside
Not the morning workout type? Consider incorporating a short walk into your routine. A University of Georgia study found that low-intensity exercise like walking for 20 minutes reduced feelings of fatigue by 65 percent. In addition, being exposed to sunlight early in the day helps set your circadian rhythm, making you feel more alert.
Put It into Practice: Set out your clothes and shoes at night, so you can get up and go in the morning.
3. Eat Smart
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but what you eat matters just as much. Karyn Duggan, CNC, recommends a balance of protein, fat, and carbohydrates (PFC). Why? Your body converts carbs into energy right away, while protein and fats take longer to digest; breakfasts based on the PFC formula gives your body an immediate boost, plus long-lasting energy.
Put It into Practice: Experiment with healthy combinations like almond butter on whole-grain toast or a fresh spinach, flaxseed, and avocado smoothie.
4. Drink Up
Proper hydration after a night of rest is key. A small study published in the Journal of Nutrition investigating the effect of mild dehydration on mood and cognitive abilities found that participants reported symptoms including headache, difficulty concentrating, fatigue, and low mood. Sound familiar? These symptoms are also tied to caffeine withdrawal. So if you’re serious about quitting coffee, swap it for water in the morning, and see if it helps.
Put It into Practice: Drink at least eight ounces of water upon waking. If plain water is too boring, muddle refreshing ingredients like cucumber, mint, and lime and add ice water, or try hot water with lemon.
5. Try Tea Instead
Switching from coffee to tea can be a gentle introduction to stepping down your caffeine intake; most teas contain less caffeine than coffee, although the levels depend upon the varietal and brewing practices. If you’re ready to omit caffeine altogether, try a cup of herbal tea to replace your morning coffee habit.
Put It into Practice:
6. Consider Coffee Alternatives
If you’re really hooked on your morning coffee, cutting it out completely probably feels like a tall order. A hot brewed beverage—with or without caffeine—that’s a bit more coffee-like might help ease the transition.
Put It into Practice:
- Try chicory, a root with an earthy flavor that is dried, cut, and brewed like coffee (and has a similar mild laxative effect). Dandy Blend is a popular caffeine-free coffee substitute made from dandelion, barley, rye, and chicory and beet roots.
- Scale back on caffeine with mate—made from the stems and leaves of the yerba mate plant—which contains some naturally occurring caffeine (typically a bit less than coffee).
7. Turn on the Tunes
8. Keep a Stress Journal
Research suggests a strong positive correlation between expressive writing and improved physical and emotional health—in particular for relieving stress. Some long-term health benefits include: fewer stress-related doctor visits; fewer sick days; improved immune function; reduced blood pressure; and improved mood and memory.
9. Stretch Yourself
Whether you incorporate just a few simple stretches into your morning routine, or commit to a dedicated yoga session, stretching first thing helps you wake up by getting your blood flowing and warming your muscles.
10. Master Morning Meditation
Spend the time you’ll save every morning brewing or buying coffee wisely. In addition to helping reduce feelings of stress and anxiety, meditation helps you start the day in a calm, relaxed state that can better prepare you to deal with challenging situations.
11. Create a Routine and Stick to It
In The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg examines how habits work—and how to break them by adjusting your routine. Start with a few nighttime rituals that will help you wind down, get a good night’s sleep, and start your morning refreshed.
Put It into Practice:
- Practice good sleep hygiene. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.
- Shun screen time. Shut down electronics at least an hour before bed.
- Get enough sleep. Most adults need between 7 and 9 hours a night.
- Do the same thing every day. For your routine to stick, do it daily, including weekends.
Be Prepared for Bumps
Even if you only have a cup a day, quitting coffee isn’t easy, especially if it’s a longtime habit. Caffeine withdrawal symptoms including headache, fatigue, irritability, drowsiness, and difficulty concentrating are more likely to occur when you quit cold turkey, but these symptoms are transient, peaking around one or two days, and subsiding after a week or so. If you experience discomfort, consider tapering your intake slowly over a week; use acetaminophen as needed; stay hydrated; and substitute green tea for coffee toward the end of the week.
The One Medical blog is published by One Medical, a national, modern primary care practice pairing 24/7 virtual care services with inviting and convenient in-person care at over 100 locations across the U.S. One Medical is on a mission to transform health care for all through a human-centered, technology-powered approach to caring for people at every stage of life.
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