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Spring Cleaning: Giving Up Coffee

Ten days without the caffeine. Can I do it?

Cup of coffee

So with the help of a nutritionist-yoga teacher, seven colleagues and I are on a 10-day quest to find out what foods "best serve us." A cup of coffee and two large teaspoons of sugar serves me just fine. I have been counting the caffeine-free hours, 60 so far. After the first 12 hours, I was irate at a colleague who was probably making reasonable requests but at the time she seemed demanding and entitled. Running outside with my dog helped settle me down. Hour 24: The coffee craving became more intense. I brought hot drinks to my daughter's Amazon college crew team and I absent-mindedly, or maybe surreptitiously, "found" myself cradling a Dunkin Donuts coffee, savoring a sip until my mind kicked in. Next hurdle, after yoga class and on the way home I usually do a coffee drive by. Instead I came home and squeezed orange carrot juice and stayed the course.

Suddenly, I am aware of all the people who stroll down the streets cradling their Starbuck cups. If I mention to my friends that I will be caffeine-free for 10 days as part of a spring fast, I might as well say that I am volunteering to go on a forced march through Siberia. I am wondering if caffeine is our security blanket that provides the energy for us to scramble from one momentous task to another.

I am curious as I head caffeine-free into hour 61, I reflect on my work with teenagers. Sometimes when I am exploring with a teenager who may be smoking marijuana daily, I ask: "What's the longest time you haven't smoked?" I also ask: "How much do you want to change this pattern?" The motivation for change can be zero to 50 percent and we try to figure out what they enjoy about the ritual of getting high, as well as its down sides.

If you had asked me three days ago, before I entered this caffeine-free period, why I wanted to abstain I wouldn't have been able to give you a convincing reason. Now I would say I want the freedom to choose what I put in my body. I don't want to be tethered to an energy roller coaster fueled by a cup of coffee. I just want to see what it is like for me to break a ritual that seems to infuse my life with a sense of comfort but may not be the clean fuel to start my Spring renewal.

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