With so much uncertainty in the world today, it is no wonder people are leaning on simple ways to decrease their anxiety and create a general sense of calmness in their lives. And while the topic of mental health is certainly not simple, nor is there a one size fits all approach, there are a few simple daily activities that can help reduce anxious emotions you might have. In fact, many people have stated that even just drinking their favorite cup of coffee has helped with their anxiety. While excess of anything, including coffee, can do the opposite, there are a couple of practical reasons that sitting down and enjoying your favorite brew can indeed help ease your anxiety.
Sense of Familiarity
There are a wide range of causes of anxiety, and every one is different. One cause of anxiety is major changes in life, schedules, expectations, etc. When you are feeling anxious in the midst of great change, the simple acts that you love can create a sense of calmness just by familiarity alone. However, it is often these activities that we tend to forgo when the going gets tough. In this case, it’s not even the coffee alone that reduces anxiety. It is walking into your favorite coffee shop with baristas that you know and who know you back, familiar artwork you’ve stood and looked at a hundred times, and your favorite table in the back corner. But even if you can’t sit down in the shop, the simple act of ordering your favorite drink from a coffee shop you love can do wonders for your mental health if you are intentional about it.
Additionally, while some people grab their coffee to go to run to the next commitment, many people drink coffee while doing something that they love. These activities vary from person to person, but they include acts like sitting down with a friend or family member to catch up and enjoy each other’s company, enjoying a little alone time before the kids wake up and peace is a little harder to find, journaling, planning and dreaming for the future, and more. These acts help foster a sense of thankfulness in your life. Those positive emotions and happy memories can be associated with the smells and tastes of the coffee you were drinking in the process, so now something as innocuous as your favorite beverage could have the ability to spring up those same feelings you associate with it. And remember, in times like these, being intentional with your thoughts and your actions will make a huge difference, so try grabbing your go-to coffee choice, and take some time to sit and enjoy it mindfully, allowing all of these happy, positive, and hopeful feelings you associate with it to help create a sense of calmness and thankfulness.
Another way coffee can help with reducing anxious feelings is the increase in productivity you might experience as a result. Caffeine is a stimulant that triggers the brain’s production of dopamine, and dopamine plays a huge role in concentration. Because many people do experience anxiety in the midst of being overwhelmed or feeling sluggish because there are tasks that need to be completed, coffee can play a role in reducing those feelings by helping to conquer the task at hand!
We know that the sense of familiarity and the dose of dopamine can have positive effects on us, however, all good things do have caveats. On the other side of the “coffee boosts your dopamine” coin is another reality. The rate that your body metabolizes caffeine and other xenobiotics (i.e. – substances not naturally found in the body) is dictated by the presence of an enzyme called CYPIA2. There are different versions of this enzyme: one that metabolizes quickly and one that metabolizes slowly. Your body’s CYPIA2 will dictate how you respond to stimulants like caffeine, and how your body processes these will define how you physically respond. You will know if you have a slow processing copy of CYPIA2 because you will likely feel jittery, distracted, or have trouble sleeping after drinking a certain amount of coffee. It’s always important to listen to your body so you know your limits and exactly what it needs to function properly. Everyone is different with different needs, both physiologically and psychologically, and knowing what is best for you in particular is important.
Missing your favorite beverage from San Marcos coffee shops? Come visit Mochas & Javas at our HEB or Wonder World locations during our temporarily limited hours. Our LBJ location will be open again soon!