Swapping Java for a Cup of Zen can Boost Your Career and Your Health

For coffee addicts, there is nothing like those first few sips in the morning.  A perfectly blended cappuccino, was always a multi-sensorial moment of bliss for me at any moment. But unless it was decaf, this pleasure came along with a powerful form of caffeine that was doing me more harm than good. What I thought was giving me an edge, was actually just making me EDGY. 

While some of caffeine's benefits to productivity are indisputable, these studies don't incorporate consumption habits, tolerance levels or context.  My experience with caffeine and a high stress job taught me that there is a very fine line between a habit providing a benevolent mental boost, and a stress inducing addiction resulting in anxiety, decreased productivity, and less than optimal performance.   

Out of curiosity I did a little research, and what I found was not only in line with my own experience, but definite cause to question coffee's position as the ultimate performance booster.  Furthermore, the recent increase in focus on the relationship between well-being + productivity and emotional intelligence + career success is providing broader and more thoughtful perspectives on the concept of productivity. 

Reducing your caffeine intake = 4 key career boosting benefits

1) Improved Creativity.  The overexcited mind caused by that extra cup of coffee is not a conduit for original ideas. According to Neuroscience Professor Vincent Walsh of UCL, when your brain is put into a high-energy state fueled by adrenaline, the subconscious neural networks where new ideas are formed are blocked from doing their best work. You may feel that you’re coming up with lots of ideas, but those ideas are usually just variations on a memory, rather than something truly new and valuable.  

So the next time the atomic bomb urgent request comes your way, (the I-need-this-by-tomorrow type that require three full days to do properly) coffee may not be your best bet for the flash of creative insight you need to streamline the project.

2) Increased Emotional Intelligence.  A well-known side effect of caffeine consumption is irritability and anxiousness. Common sense tells us that if you are irritable and anxious your capability to relate to others will go down a notch.  And, according to research conducted by TalentSmart- 90 percent of top performers are high in emotional intelligence, and skilled at remaining calm and in control in stressful situations.

3) More controlled and rational responses. The fight-or-flight mechanism sidesteps rational thinking in favor of a faster response.  I call it working in fast and furious mode- good for catching up on emails, but bad for working strategically and creatively.  

4) Improved Sleep Quality.  Even if your caffeine habit isn’t causing you to fall asleep later, it is proven to shorten the duration of REM sleep - a mental process necessary to promote creative thinking, optimal emotional intelligence, thought clarity, and the ability to cope with stress.

I summed up the 4 that I thought were the most relevant, but there are many more benefits- for further information check the articles listed below in the references. While the above applies to caffeine in general, there are reasons to favor alternative forms of caffeine- specifically, matcha green tea. 

4 reasons Why Coffee Drinkers are Switching to Matcha Green Tea.

1) A smarter and calmer mind.  Quality matcha green tea contains the highest level of L-Theanine (up to twice as much as black tea); a psychoactive amino acid that increases alpha waves associated with alert relaxation. It also mitigates some of the negative aspects of caffeine, such as anxiety, increased blood pressure and diminished sleep quality.

In addition to L-Theanine, all teas contain theophylline and theobromine-  stimulants that work without affecting the nervous system and contribute to giving you a slow and steady boost of energy versus the jarring bolt from coffee.   Both compounds cross over from the blood stream in conjunction with L-Theanine to work magic on the brain resulting in the smarter, calmer mind. For more detail see “Why Tea is a Better Buzz Than Coffee” 

2) Moderate Level of Caffeine.  The caffeine level is on the low side.  In perspective, caffeine per 8 oz.: Coffee| 150-200mg |Black tea 60-90 |Matcha tea 30-40

3) Much less addictive than caffeine: The slow time release into the bloodstream does not cause the sudden spike in insulin and adrenaline levels that coffee does. The “crash” people often experience from coffee causes you to crave more caffeine to return to normal from the crash- in turn causing increased tolerance levels and conducive to chemical dependency.

4) Matcha green tea is basically a superfood. Matcha boasts the highest level of antioxidants derived from the catechin compound (including the mighty Epigallocatechin Gallate ) than ANY food- 6 x more than goji berries. Combined with the high levels of polyphenols, flavonoids, and chlorophyll- it is packed with vitamins and compounds to improve the body’s defense system against bacteria and viruses and provide a boost to overall health.  

                                              Small Tea- Coral Gables, FL

                                              Small Tea- Coral Gables, FL

Heard enough yet? In reality there a several other unexpected benefits of matcha green tea, but the key point here is that only matcha can provide a longer mental boost while decreasing stress and boosting the immune system.  Coffee does the opposite…it increases energy for a short time but disrupts the balance of your central nervous system, wreaking havoc internally and creating stress that inhibits certain cognitive functions.

Whatever you choose to drink, in the end it is all about moderation. No one who enjoys coffee should give it up all together (unless told to by their doctor).   And any form of caffeine when consumed in excess (including matcha green tea) can have negative side effects.  After freeing myself of my caffeine addiction, I only drink it on occasion and I can honestly say I feel healthier, more effective, and much more emotionally grounded. Overall, just great.

So try kicking the coffee habit and give matcha tea a try, you have nothing to lose and whole world of success and wellness to gain.


How Your Daily Caffeine Fix Is a Silent Killer of Success https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/241613

That Cup of Coffee is Killing your Creativity http://www.improvides.com/2014/11/06/cup-coffee-killing-creativity-kid/

How Caffeine Can Cramp Creativity http://www.newyorker.com/tech/elements/how-caffeine-can-cramp-creativity

Creativity is Not a Team Sport Interview Vincent Walsh, Professor Neuroscience UCL http://www.improvides.com/2014/03/24/creativity-team-sport-interview-vincent-walsh-prof-neuroscience-ucl/

Is Caffeine Turning You Into a Monster? http://www.shape.com/lifestyle/mind-and-body/caffeine-turning-you-monster

Is Caffeine Boosting or Sabotaging Your Productivity? https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/295232#

10 Amazing Benefits of Matcha Green Tea http://www.naturallivingideas.com/10-amazing-benefits-of-matcha-green-tea/

The Benefits of Epigallocatechin Gallate http://www.livestrong.com/article/282106-the-benefits-of-epigallocatechin-gallate/

“Why Tea is a Better Buzz Than Coffee https://bodynutrition.org/tea/