Battling through coffee-induced anxiety just to get a boost of energy is a relatable struggle for many 9-to-5ers. Fully skipping your morning brew to avoid jitters is one obvious solution, but it's also not realistic for those who simultaneously feel completely drained without it. So, is there a happy caffeine medium between being overstimulated and wiped out?
For some, the answer is yes. According to Dr. Stephen Ferrando, MD, director of psychiatry at Westchester Medical Center, anxiety from caffeine is "completely dose-dependent — the less you drink, the less anxious you become."
That means finding your perfect personal dosage of caffeine is the key to enjoying it without feeling anxiety-like symptoms such as increased heart rate, restlessness, agitation, and sleep problems.
When you start tracking your caffeine consumption (how much and when you're taking it in), you can note how caffeine is impacting your mood, sleep, and other functions to determine if a change might be beneficial, explained Shandra Brown Levey, Ph.D., a psychologist at UCHealth and the University of Colorado School of Medicine.
She suggested starting out by "consuming less than the FDA-recommended total mg of caffeine per day." For healthy adults, this is 400 mg a day — which is about four or five cups of coffee or 10 sodas. (Surprised by that number? We are, too. We recommend always checking with your doctor for a more personalized health and nutrition regimen.)
However, everyone is different. Dr. Ferrando said even a cup of decaf coffee can be problematic for some people with anxiety.
If you do want to drop your daily intake of caffeine, try swapping in tea. Depending on the tea, a brew can have at least 50 percent less caffeine than coffee.
To help you out, we've rounded up four yummy tea substitutes worthy of your favorite mug. Keep in mind, many coffee shops let you customize your order — asking for fewer scoops or pumps of tea in your drink is one way to cut back on caffeine.
Remember: a 16-fluid-ounce cup (aka a grande size) of Blonde Roast coffee from Starbucks offers 360 mg of caffeine, a Dark Roast contains 260 mg, and a shot of espresso contains 150 mg. You know what your body can and can't handle, so use these measurements as a baseline when finding a beverage that works for you.
Matcha is a green tea made from crushed whole leaves — its caffeine content is higher than bagged tea. Matcha green tea is prepared as a powder and whisked into hot water, but you can add it to just about any food or beverage. Mix it in with hot milk and vanilla for a creamy latte or incorporate the powder into your morning oatmeal — the options are endless.
A 16-fluid-ounce Matcha Green Tea Latte from Starbucks (which includes three scoops of matcha powder) contains 80 mg of caffeine.
Black tea — which is made from the leaves of a bush called Camellia sinensis — contains caffeine and, according to NCBI, a stimulating substance called theophylline. Both of these ingredients are great for alertness and energy.
Both 16 fluid ounces of Earl Grey Black Tea and Royal English Breakfast Black Tea from Starbucks (made with two tea bags each) contain 40 mg of caffeine.
Chai tea is a form of black tea that's blended with spices. When prepared with milk, it is a great replacement for those who love a creamy espresso-based latte with strong flavors.
A 16-fluid-ounce Chai Tea Latte from Starbucks (which includes four pumps of chai) contains 95 mg of caffeine. A 16-fluid-ounce Teavana Chai Tea from Starbucks (made with two tea bags) contains 40 mg of caffeine.
Not only can green tea offer you a jolt of energy, but it's healthy, too. Studies published by Harvard Medical School show that chemicals in the beverage can benefit your heart health by "quell[ing] inflammation" and in turn possibly "reducing plaque buildup inside arteries."
A 16-fluid-ounce Emperor's Cloud and Mist Green Tea from Starbucks (made with two tea bags) contains 16 mg of caffeine.
A 16-fluid-ounce Jade Citrus Mint Brewed Tea (contains Chun Mee green tea) from Starbucks (made with two tea bags) contains 40 mg of caffeine.