I know what you’re thinking. Giving up your favorite drink for a while or forever sounds like torture. Miserable, painful, and like slogging through a mud pit. For one reason or another, some people quit coffee for a little while, or even permanently. If you’ve been a long time coffee drinker and have suddenly stopped, you know that the first day without your favorite drink is the worst.
If you want or need to quit coffee for a while, there are some side effects that you should be aware of. There are also strategies to minimize these effects, and make your coffee-free time more bearable.
The most common side effect of coffee withdrawal is the headache, and it’s the stuff of legends. Many people are nearly incapacitated for days waiting for the pain to pass. Plan ahead by taking aspirin at the same time as you would have your first cup of coffee, so you can head off most of the pain. Be prepared for a headache that lasts 3-5 days, and keep your favorite pain reliever on hand to avoid most of the pain.
You also won’t be in the best mood. Coffee tends to make people more optimistic and social, and for some people that means that without coffee they downright hate interacting with others. If this sounds like you, plan your first day without coffee on a day when you don’t have to leave the house. You may be tempted to snap at anyone for anything, so staying isolated can help reduce mood swings.
Of course, you’ll be tired! Lethargy is to be expected, and your natural energy levels will rise over the next few weeks as your body adjusts to the lack of caffeine. The first few days will be rough, so see if you can sleep in or take naps as needed.
It’s not uncommon to have muscle and joint pain, constipation, digestive troubles, flu-like symptoms, an inability to concentrate, and in increase in symptoms of anxiety and depression. In the first week of giving up coffee, everything is more of a challenge.
You can’t completely avoid the side effects, but making sure to stay hydrated is the best advice. Get plenty of electrolytes, vitamins, and minerals, and use this as a time to improve your overall nutrition, since it will help you feel better. Get plenty of rest, and good luck!