I used to drink at least one cup of black coffee every day. Now it’s been over three weeks, two days, and 6 hours since I gave up my habit for Lent, but who’s counting?
Now, before you worry about an entertainment entrepreneur tackling a religious topic like Lent, I want to say this isn’t about preaching at you, or encouraging you to quit coffee ’cause this shit is hard. This post is strictly about how quitting coffee for Lent has affected my total well-being.
It’s the period of time between Ash Wednesday and Holy Saturday. Christians take 40 days to reflect on the life of Christ and spend time trying to be humble, ascetic, and reflective. It’s a season that sparked giant raging parties like Mardi Gras, where people try to fit in all the debauchery before limiting themselves from hedonistic pleasures.
Coffee is a daily habit in my life.
Four years ago, I swapped my daily rooibos tea for coffee. My motivation for the day-to-day grind started to wane as my degree program came to an end. It started with the Keurig machine at work. Now, I usually make myself a personal-sized French press every day.
I’ve never thought myself a coffee addict, but I rely on it to get my through most days.
A Lenten resolution challenge.
This March, the priest at my grandma’s church handed me a paper with the words “Lenten Resolution” as I was exiting the chapel. I thought it might be a good time to control some of the things that have been controlling me.
Disclaimer: I’ve never given up anything for Lent in my life. I consider myself a Christ follower, but I’m not a regular churchgoer (sorry, Grandma). I feel at home in spiritual communities where members can openly question, discuss, and think critically about Christian doctrine. Drastically changing my behaviour due to observation of Lent is an anomaly.
So back to this “Lenten Resolution” paper. I made mental notes of which things would be challenging to give up:
- I love POPCORN. So it was the first thing to go. I can eat an entire bowl to myself semi-regularly!
- Then, I upped the ante: COFFEE. My daily addiction that would be much more difficult to control.
Coffee and popcorn are currently off limits. I haven’t been physically affected by a lack of popcorn.
Coffee withdrawals are as real as any other addiction withdrawal symptoms.
My first three days off coffee were brutal. I had a splitting headache that I couldn’t shake, my ears were ringing, and I was thirsty. I popped several ibuprofen. And I just wanted to sleep all day.
My body was going through major caffeine withdrawals.
I didn’t feel like I was dying Things started to even out around day three. My irritability and drowsiness were still hanging on. Weird nightmares interrupted my sleep. I likely snapped a few times.
Once finding out I had quit coffee for Lent, friends seemed genuinely concerned about how I could function without it.
One friend asked, “But what about coffee poops?”
I answered, “The first few days were a blur , so maybe there was… er… a kink or two. Other than that, I’m pretty regular.”
Since I quit coffee, I’ve felt a bit anxious and stressed. A pinching or squeezing sensation in my heart started, but subsided.
I still find it difficult to concentrate. For example, I sat down last Friday to write a blog post and was coming up dry for nearly two hours. I settled on a spring bucket list to get some words out. It’s really tough for someone who has to focus as part of their job to suddenly lose that ability.
Mornings are hard, so I’m taking better care of my nights. My routine consists of a cup of caffeine-free tea, washing my face, brushing and flossing, and then reading a physical book. This daily practice is beginning to have a positive and energizing effect on my mornings.
If I can quit coffee, I can do anything!
Quitting coffee has empowered me to look at other areas in my life that could value from a little self-control. If I can quit coffee, I can quit negative self-talk, go to the gym everyday, have that tough conversation, or give back to my community.
But I won’t lie: I smell coffee strongly on people. It’s haunting me everywhere! So I sneak in some Green Tea when I’m desperate.
Lent can be a season of going without, or it can be a chance to examine what’s worth holding on to. It’s a chance to question motivations and adjust daily routines to focus more on things that empower, enrich, and inspire.
I quit coffee for Lent. What are you giving up?