Put the coffee down, and walk away…

I live in the coffee capital of Australia… maybe even of the world.  We have more coffee shops in Melbourne than in any other state – and our Baristas are  known for their world class coffee.

I still find it amazing that up until the age of 32, I’d never tasted coffee.  By that I mean real coffee. I had tried a sip of Mum’s cheap instant coffee when I was 17 – and promptly spit it out into the sink.

Since my first taste of real coffee, I’ve slowly become hooked on my “morning cuppa”.

I’ve mentioned before that I’m not a morning person.  It’s not helped by the medication I take each night which leaves me a bit groggy.  But my morning cuppa clears my head and leaves me ready to face the day.

Lately, I’ve been noticing my morning cuppa being followed by a midday coffee and sometimes even a sneaky afternoon coffee.  Add to that a few more cups of black tea and soon my stress hormone, called cortisol, is surging.

So what’s the problem with coffee causing raised cortisol levels?  And is this something we should be concerned as women with Bipolar?

A quick scan of the internet tells me that raised cortisol levels can not only leave you feeling anxious, fearful and angry – they can also lead to feelings of depression, lower your immune systems and increase fat in the stomach area.

Now, I’m not someone who should be lecturing on health issues, but none of these things sound appealing.  Goodness knows I spend enough time dealing with anxiety and depression.  The last thing I need is to be adding to the problem with my new love affair with coffee.

Earlier this week, I convinced myself to at least check out the herbal teas in the supermarket, telling myself they were just as satisfying as a freshly brewed coffee.  I was staggered to find dozens of different herbal teas.

As I write, I have my fingers wrapped around a steaming cup of lemon and ginger tea.  No caffeine.  No worry about insomnia or surging cortisol levels.  A truly guilt free cuppa.

I don’t think I can give up my beloved morning coffee. Or a cup of milky tea in the afternoon.  But that’s it.  The rest have to go.  And with it, all those side effects that make life as a Bipolar Mum even more difficult.

Do you find coffee gives you any side-effects?  Or are you one of those people who can drink copious amounts and still sleep like a log?  Leave your comments below.

 

 

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I know exercise is good for your mood… I just don’t wanna do it!

I’ve got something to admit.  I’ve read countless articles that talk about the benefit of exercising for people with mood disorders.  I’ve listened as researchers promote exercise as a way of relieving stress and lifting your mood.

And still… I don’t do it.

Every morning, I open one eye as my husband gets up to train for an adventure race he’s doing in Thailand this month.

And then I pull the covers closer around me and snooze until I’ve got half and hour left before I need to have school lunches made, bags packed and be driving out of the driveway for school drop off.  An hour later, I sit down at work, inhaling a cup of coffee to give me the boost I need to start my day.

Needless to say, I’m not a morning exercise type of person.

Problem is that I’m not an evening exercise type of person either.  By the time my husband and I have our three kids fed and in bed, the last thing I feel like doing is pulling on my active wear and heading out in the cold to the gym.

I could hit the treadmill collecting dust in my garage, but problem is, I’m not an exercising alone type of person.  I prefer to exercise while catching up with friends. Only problem is that we usually skip the exercise and just catch up over a cup of tea.

So this leave me in a dilemma.

If I want to be serious about my mental health, I know that I need to prioritise some form of exercise.  But it needs to be something that I can commit to without it seeming like a chore that I’d do anything to avoid.

I was dwelling on this in recent weeks when a newspaper article caught my eye, extolling the benefits of “tree walking”.  Apparently, benefits of a long walk compound when you add trees to the equation.  Being among nature, with trees around you, is now scientifically proven to boost your mood significantly.

Which brings me to my new resolution.

I am going to commit to going on a walk among trees every week – rain, hail or shine. And I’m going to find a friend who wants to come with me. Lucky for me I happen to live at the base of a mountain range, with lots of trails to choose from.

So now, I just need to get off the couch and up that mountain!

Mariska xx

Do you use exercise as a way to boost your mood or reduce stress?  I’d love to hear what you do or if you struggle with finding the motivation to exercise.