Working in a media agency, full of advertising folk it is no surprise that coffee is the lifeblood of the office. With most staff in the business starting their day with at least one – often stretching this to two or more throughout the day. In fact, cafés alone sell an average of 1 billion cups a year in Australia, which equates to 138 lattes per person, which is far outweighed by our consumption of instant coffee (75% of the coffee market is instant) – there obviously a culture of caffeination.
Now, a coffee a day is a good thing I hear you say. Evidence based science has shown that time and time again – antioxidants, increased dopamine, more neurons firing, etc. However, what scientific studies have not shown is the effect that coffee can and does have on the those who have an increased sensitivity to its physiological effects; particularly those who have increased the level of stillness in their body. Not just coffee – any stimulants such as sugar, chocolate, etc. all have side effects that flight mindfulness, connection and energetic quality.
One thing our evidenced based studies are not doing is looking at the type of physiological make up that may or may not be negatively impacted by caffeine. This explains a lot and is consistent with studies on dairy, alcohol or even pharmaceuticals where contradictory findings are common. In this instance who is right, and what grounds is evidence based science operating on?
Mindfulness is touted as a new corporate must-have, with companies investing in yoga, meditation classes and wellness programs. But, the link is not often recognized between stillness – which is a deep calming of the bodies nervous system, and caffeine – which is highly stimulating for that same nervous system. To put it into easily relatable terms, we could say if stillness is a salad, are we starting each day with a soft serve?
We are not yet at a stage where companies are taking true responsibility for employee’s health and wellbeing; and indeed, if a corporation should be responsible for the individual’s wellbeing is a whole other conversation. For now, it is up to each person to discern what is right for them and the volumes being spoken by their unique body.
Our body is made up of the same particles as the stars and planets of our universe. So the cells that we live with may just have the answers that evidence based science has been trying to extract. Those same particles are the greatest scientists around and we just happen to meet them every day. Any reaction to a stimulant such as coffee is actually really obvious, when we don’t allow ourselves to be blinded by short term feel good factors.
Let’s enjoy taking advantage of the wellness at work initiatives available, but be open to the possibility that as the body and mind connect, and our daily stress and anxiety slips into momentary respite; coffee – the corporate jumper leads of society, might just be acting more like an electric chair than a battery tune up.