Coffee Project: Day Eighty-One

November 9th, 2009

Latest observations:

The feeling coffee gives me is a lot like terror: my heart pounds, my chest tightens, my muscles clench.  This makes sense, because caffeine stimulates the release of adrenaline and stress hormones — it’s like a cup of artificial stress, basically. (Read that link: it’s kinda scary.)

But my life is artificially low on stress: I live in Portland.  And this month I’ve really gotten to know the positive side of coffee, too.  It can give me focus and motivation, but it’s not a sure thing.  I have to want to focus, and have the time and space, before coffee can help me. And I can still focus without coffee … sometimes.  The long and short of it is, I wrote almost nothing while I had no caffeine in me.  I am a professional writer, and that is a real problem.

As suggested by many, I tried replacing coffee with tea.  I found it’s just as bad, just as good, I’m not feeling the difference between tea and coffee in my caffeine jolts.  For instance, one cup of green tea I drank at eleven AM kept me awake until three the following morning.  Caffeine is caffeine.  I rather prefer the taste of coffee, but variety is nice.

I’ve continued on the one-cup-every-other-day schedule, but for various reasons I slipped and had coffee on both Friday and Saturday, and the cumulative effect was severe!  Sunday morning I was just wiped out.  The stressed state that coffee puts my body in is truly tiring, in the long run.  Still, I made myself go for a run in the morning, and then a 20 mile bike ride in the afternoon, which just slew me — I was almost catatonic* when I got home — but today I really feel good.  Exercise is the other wonder drug.

* For science’s sake I should report that I was drinking vodka & grapefruit juice for the entire 3-hour ride, which may have contributed to my disoritentation, fatigue and euphoria.  Thanks, Mason!

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