I have 3 kids, and to say it’s challenging at times is an understatement. My oldest is a teen, but my two youngest are 2 and 4, which means that my life is characterized by a lot of noise and chaos. Top it off with the fact that I struggle with depression and anxiety, and you have the recipe for a perfect storm of frustration.
Recently, I started to notice that my mood was low, and my confidence in my parenting was completely shot. I was finding my anxiety level was through the roof, and I consistently felt on edge. This was leading to frequent outbursts of anger, then guilt, especially when it came to parenting. I have always tried to be a kind and gentle parent, and yet I found that in reality I was a harried, screaming mess.
I started trying to figure out different ways I could tweak my lifestyle to become a calmer, more relaxed parent. In this process I tried journaling, going for hikes alone, and talking it out with my friends. However, I still found myself in a state of complete overwhelm when things became chaotic at home (Which, let’s face it, was always).
One day I was having a casual conversation with a coworker about drinking tea, and I came to the realization that I was consuming between 6 and 8 cups of caffeinated tea per day. According to the Mayo Clinic, black brewed tea contains approximately 25-48mg. of caffeine. I started thinking that perhaps this was contributing to my feelings of anxiety, and I started the process of cutting back. I decided that I was going to work my way down to only 2 cups of tea per day, and see if that improved my situation at all.
It didn’t take me long to begin noticing that there was a huge difference in the way I felt. In a post about caffeine, Healthline cited a study from 2008 that found that caffeine can induce anxiety in some people, especially those who have had previous issues with it. Essentially, in my quest to find more energy to cope with the day, I was pouring a stimulant on top of my anxiety disorder, making it so much worse.
Within a matter of days after cutting back to 2 cups I was feeling embarrassingly better. Embarassed because I had been struggling for so long when there was an easy solution right in front of my face. I’m in no way claiming that my issues have resolved themselves, but there has absolutely been a reduction in the intensity of the anxiety I was feeling. I’ve found that since I have cut my caffeine intake, I am more patient and proactive rather than becoming overwhelmed immediately. I find that I am more able to breathe and assess the chaos around me. My parenting has slowly improved by the simple fact that I don’t feel quite so clouded by frustration and irritability. Some days are better than others, but at this point I’ll accept any good days with open arms.
If “coffee mom” culture is correct, then there are many of us who are riding the caffeine train through parenting and functional adulthood. However for some of us, this ride might be a shaky one. If you’re having trouble with feeling stressed out, anxious, and overwhelmed, you may want to take a look at your caffeine intake. You never know, it may help!