Quitting caffeine for a week

Anyone who knows me will remember that I cannot start my day without a cup of tea. It cannot be made by anyone other than me in order to achieve the perfect colour and taste (2C for sure). Ive been drinking tea for about religiously for about 10 years, having between two and three cups a day. I always assumed that tea is much healthier to drink than coffee, but only recently read that in fact that tea contains more caffeine than tea, which can lead to unwanted health risks. This lead me to wonder how I would cope without my morning caffeine burst for an entire week. Here’s how it went.

Day 1 – ‘Oh God’, I thought to myself as I lay awake on my bed. It was 7.30 in the morning and I was already yearning for my daily tea and porridge. Of course my dreams came crashing down at an instant, and my only beverage was a water. At 9:3o I felt a mild headache coming on. I had heavy eyelids and not having the feeling of being completely awake. I had a driving lesson at 10:30 which couldn’t have gone worse if I tried. After my awful attempt at reverse parking into a bay, even my instructor was questioning me. I then went grocery shopping, which is usually my favourite activity of the week. Bu things took a turn when my head started throbbing – it was a not so mild headache anymore, in fact it had taken over my entire head and down my face. I couldn’t take it anymore. I took an ibuprofen which made my day more desirable again. Looking forward to tomorrow.

Day 2 – I had quite a disturbed sleep, waking up multiple times during the night which is unusual for me. I woke up feeling luggish and munched on two croissants for breakfast and an orange. As I got through the day, I started feeling more tired than I normally would, but there were no signs of a major headache like yesterdays. That was until my maths student had arrived and I spent the majority of the lesson frowning. I had a minor headache for the remainder of the day but nothing I couldn’t manage.

Day 3 – I remember reading other articles about people quitting caffeine and it mentioning that day 3 is the hardest part of the challenge. I woke up at 9:30am, much later than normal – this was probably due to my overall tiredness for the past couple of days. I made sure to keep extra hydrated throughout the day, drinking more cups of water than usual. I then headed to my aunts housewarming party where we chilled in the beaming sun for the for the entire day. Despite what the other articles said, I didn’t have a tough day at all, no tiredness or headaches. In fact I felt much more awake!

Day 4 – By the fourth day, my headaches had disappeared and I was back to my normal energetic self. That’s not to say my need for tea and gone completely, I was still craving for one sip of it. I tried having warm milk but even still it did not fully satisfy my needs.

Day 5 – My mum came back from a long trip and asked me to make her a cup of tea. Now I was going back to my favourite cabinet in the kitchen, taking out the container with all the loose tea leaves. This was a mistake. As I opened the lid, the sweet aroma punched the air and lingered, enough for me to give in and make a cup for myself – something I don’t regret.

Even though I didn’t last the entire week, a 5 day gap after years of drinking routinely was a big challenge. Quitting had many negative effects on me such as headaches and just having an overall tiredness during the day. On the other hand, the withdrawal symptoms were not as bad as I thought they would be with only the first day being the hardest overall. In fact, without drinking tea in the mornings, I was not full after my meals and ended up snacking more often. I am certainly going back to drinking tea, unhealthy or not, but at least I know that if there was ever a shortage in tea bags, I would be fine.

The art of quitting social media

Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter; the apps I had given a profuse amount of my time. Almost 3 hours of my day would be taken up by me scrolling through these apps, absorbing in content which were completely unrelated to my life. I found myself filling my brain with memes – yes, I agree that memes can be funny but I was taking in too much- but my addiction was growing worse. I was living, breathing and speaking in meme. My thoughts, ideas and opinions were being backed up by memes and soon I became fed up. I deleted all time wasting apps hoping to return to the time where I had increased focus on everything and everyone around me. I managed to live without it for a good few hours until I had an itching sensation to take a quick look at what everyone was up to. I could always login to my accounts using my laptop which wouldn’t really count as the format of these social media sites are completely different to how it was displayed on my phone. And so be it, I spent the next few hours stuck between the tabs of Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, endlessly scrolling through photos of my ex-boyfriends aunt and old school friends of whom I had no interest in reuniting with. It was only after I put down my laptop and realised how unproductive my day had been that I realised my addiction was serious.

Social Media has 4 core purposes; sharing, learning, interacting and marketing. Sharing information can either be private or public and can come in many forms such as pictures, writing, video and voice recordings. The beauty of this is that you have the ability to share anything; reviews, advertising and leisure. This way, you can learn more about a certain topic, find out what your friends and family are up to as well as interacting and responding to a certain post. I don’t doubt that the concept is overall positive as it brings together communities from all over the world. What if the interaction gets too much, toxic to you and your surroundings? After all, too much of anything does make you sick right? For example, if I didn’t like the colour of the tables at a particular restaurant, I am 99% sure that I will be unlikely to find another person who disliked the same tables through conversions during my day. On the internet, however, I could publicise my thoughts on Twitter, add a few hashtags, tag the restaurant and suddenly I’ve created a cult of cream coloured table haters. Social media’s purpose was to bring people together, though in practice this is just another way of absorbing useless information. 

Internet platforms have been designed to monopolise human attention by any means necessary (New York times). There have been many instances where I sit down to work but ended up scrolling through Instagram. I would then put down my phone and proceed to my actual tasks only to reward myself with some more social media after every new paragraph I had written. This cycle would continue until my tasks are completed in more than double the time I had intended to spend on it. Social media companies essentially use us as products. They thrive off our attention and our constant scrolling for PROFIT. The reason for Instagram’s algorithm to be in a non linear is so that we never reach the end, the scrolling never stop and the profits keep rolling in. Aside from this, the environments of every day life has changed. When was the last time you went walked into a waiting room where no one was on a phone? Or try and think about the last time you rode an entire bus journey without once reaching for your phone and actually enjoying the view outside. In my opinion, social media has caused more damage than good; the irony is that we now live in a world where everything we say has to be filtered and politically correct, a place where hate is spread faster and in a more destructive manner, a world where there are too many opinions from either side leaving you in a state of confusion and unrest.

After realising that I spent the vast majority of my day doing god-knows-what on these apps, I decided it was time for a change. I have now successfully been off Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter for 40 days and counting, this is how I did it.

1.   Unfollow everyone and everything. 

 The main aim of this was to reduce the amount of content that was on my feed everyday, hence being able to go through it all in one sitting without having to constantly check my phone. It may sound tough, it’s actually pretty easy. I unfollowed every person that I had neither seen nor spoken to in the past year. This turned out to be quite a lot to my surprise, mostly people I had met once and just people at school. I also unfollowed the meme pages who had the worst quality memes or just spammed my feed with brand deals.

You will probably find that the number of followers you have will also decrease, and I too had an ache in my heart every time I saw the figures drop. However, I learnt not care much about this since I was finally seeing only the interesting content. 

2.   Delete the apps off your phone 

Since my feed had reduced so much, I grew bored of picking up my phone every now and then and watching over the same posts. The need to constantly scroll still hadn’t gone away and I became the first person to watch someones most recent story or the first to like a post. The frustration grew and the boredom grew further. As a result, I deleted the apps from my phone with no intention of getting them back.

If this seems like an extreme move for you try deleting the apps with the knowledge that you could always check your feed on a desktop – but keeping this at a minimum of course. After deleting the apps, I found myself only checking my feed on my laptop once a day, soon this reduced down to zero. 

What I learnt was that social media is not something I aspire to go back to. It did not improve the quality of my life – it was merely a distraction which diverged my tasks and plans. I can now read a book without an itching need to check my phone for notifications every few minutes, I can hold a conversation without keeping my head down and best of all, I can focus on and do my required tasks for the day in a reasonable amount of time, leaving me to do more.