Lessons Learned from Giving Up Coffee

Inspired by Leo Babauta’s self-imposed 12-month challenge, I decided to embark on my own. A little over a month ago I detailed the terms of my challenge, the first month of which I set out to give up coffee.


Much like Leo, I had an easier time than expected giving it up. It definitely helped that my summer teaching schedule is much more relaxed than my Fall, Winter, and Spring schedules. I was able to pay my body back for the borrowed energy by sleeping in a few mornings at the beginning of the month.

My skin saw a definite improvement as well. The irritation and breakout on my forehead seemed to ease. For some reason, I also found that when not drinking coffee I was inclined to drink more water, which added to my feeling irie in my body.

Mid-month I got ahead of myself… I sat down at a café one hot afternoon and ordered an iced tea. “We don’t have iced tea,” the waitress replied. “Hmmm, how about an iced decaf coffee?” I said, feeling slightly guilty because I was bending my own rules. “We don’t have that either. We have regular iced coffee though.” I quickly reasoned that I tried my best at avoiding coffee and that the Universe was just encouraging me to give in. So I did.  The familiar pleasant caffeine buzz was oh-so-welcome, and the bonus was that I was ultra productive.

Like clockwork the very next day, my forehead broke out and I was slow at getting up. Just as quickly as I gave into the iced coffee I regretted having done so. From then on, I spent the rest of the month drinking loads of water and avoiding the java.

Lessons Learned

I did notice that each time I had a strong craving for the mocha gold it was because I felt I was in need of some protection or super power. The days when I wasn’t teaching and/or had little plans on the agenda, I craved coffee to put a pep in my step so that I would do something, like organize my home bookshelf or rearrange furniture. Basically, I was uncomfortable with the stillness and wanted to move. The days when I was feeling vulnerable, I craved coffee to inject my system with energy so that I would numb out to my sensitivity. In this case, I was uncomfortable with being so open. The days when I was feeling like I should be doing something more than I was, I craved coffee so that I would be productive. I was uncomfortable not “producing” in the way our society encourages.

Final Verdict

Will I pick up the java from here? No. I’m enjoying feeling light and clean when I’m not drinking it. I’m less jumpy and impulsive, and more soft and grounded. My skin has also improved. The lessons learned from one month of being coffee-less were so rewarding, I’m curious to see what else comes up. I’m willing to trade a cup of rich coffee for enriching life lessons any day.

Up Next

The next month has me giving up gluten. First step: figure out what it means! Wish me luck.

  • Nancy
    Posted at 20:44h, 17 September Reply

    I gave up caffeine 2 years ago, feel so much better than when I “cheat”. As for gluten? LOL I’m with you on not really knowing what it means, but I know it involves bread, and no way I can give that up (I am not strong enough for that!)

    • Dawn
      Posted at 21:53h, 17 September Reply

      Hi Nancy! Congrats on giving up coffee for two years! You’re right, gluten is much harder for a few reasons. I’m going through it right now and will keep you posted on my (mid)adventures!

      Thanks for reading!

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