How coffee reduces workplace stress

Can Coffee Help You Manage Work-Related Stress Better?

Ask a group of people how their mornings would be without coffee, and you’ll hear a collective grunt. Without a dose of caffeine, many of us feel like we can’t wake up or function normally, and most of us suspect that coffee makes us more alert.

There’s truth to that – caffeine is a stimulant that keeps the central nervous system buzzing so that you feel more awake. Research suggests that coffee can increase energy and mood, too. This is great news for businesses because it’s an easy way to improve productivity while warding off burnout.

How Stress Takes a Toll on Business

Stressed out office worker

Workplace stress wreaks havoc on everyone involved. The individual who is stressed can have a slump in morale and energy, and an uptick in anxiety and symptoms of depression. The employer can lose productivity, deal with more errors, and pay more for health coverage. It’s also common for co-workers to get into more conflicts if they’re stressed.

It’s important that employees manage their stress in a healthy way instead of relying on alcohol, drugs, or other harmful habits. Alcohol abuse, for example, can make matters worse, as it has short- and long-term risks, including alcohol poisoning, STDs, and heart disease.

How Coffee Reduces Workplace Stress

If you were to list the habits you could make or break to reduce your stress levels, “stop drinking so much coffee” may be at the top. Since caffeine makes a lot of people jittery, it seems obvious that having less caffeine would bring down anxiety levels. However, it’s possible that caffeine can actually keep some people calmer in difficult situations. Even the smell of coffee may be enough to reduce stress levels, which is good news for decaf drinkers.

A study conducted by scientists from Brazil, Portugal, and the U.S. tested the impact of stressors on mice. In this study, one group of mice was given caffeine mixed with their drinking water while a second group had plain water. Both groups were then subjected to stressors like tilted cages and cold baths.

The mice who had the plain water showed signs of stress, such as doing poorly on memory tests. The mice who had caffeine didn’t exhibit signs of stress. The scientists estimated that the caffeine blocked receptors from the stress response – in humans, those responses include depression or being in a bad mood.

Coffee and Pain Management

A combo of coffee and marijuana for pain management

A study by the National Institute for Health found that caffeine may help decrease pain in computer workers. When participants drank caffeine before doing computer work, there was a reduction in the pain they normally experienced. For people who currently manage pain with CBD or marijuana, they may feel that combining the substance with caffeine is a natural next step. Reducing pain can improve mood and make it easier to function at work.

If you’re thinking of mixing marijuana or CBD oil with your coffee, though, know that there hasn’t been much research done to show how the compounds in marijuana mix with caffeine. However, there is a possibility that combining marijuana with coffee will improve mood and help control pain. Check with your local state laws and your employer’s policy on using marijuana and CBD before you start adding it to your daily supplements, though, to make sure you are in the clear.

Preventing Burnout in Employees

Job burnout goes beyond feeling exhausted or overwhelmed by work. It also includes doubting your competence to do your job and feeling like there’s no value in your contributions.

Signs of burnout include:

  • Anger and even violent outbursts aimed at co-workers.
  • Daily anxiety and nerves, and constant worry about the future.
  • Depression symptoms, especially hopelessness and feeling stuck.
  • Difficulty concentrating and remembering things.
  • Fatigue and feeling drained of energy in a way you can’t shake.
  • Physical problems, such as chest or stomach pain.
  • Poor appetite and regularly skipping meals.

Employees who haven’t struck a healthy work-life balance can suffer from insomnia, conflicts at home, and an overall reduction in satisfaction with work and life. Being less stressed and more productive at work, two things that coffee can help with may give employees the permission they need to disconnect when they’re no longer at work. They’ll feel accomplished and like they deserve a break instead of forcing themselves to work in order to catch up or get ahead.

How Employee Coffee Breaks Help Productivity

A coffee clock signifying it is time for a break

It seems counter-intuitive that giving employees more breaks can make them more productive, but the work break is truly that powerful. While 15 minutes of work may be “lost,” morale and productivity can improve so much that the time is more than made up for when the employee gets back to work. Modern employers don’t just allow for coffee breaks, they also encourage them. More than 50% of adults spend time outside of their job monitoring email; for younger workers, the number is closer to 70%. While employers can’t follow their employees home to ensure they’re shutting off from work, they can help them take the necessary breaks while they’re on the clock.

The traditional 15-minute coffee break can be beneficial for reasons other than caffeine, too. Employees have a chance to connect with one another and even vent their complaints. The break-room or a coffeehouse outing can help employees connect, share creative ideas and improve morale. Moreover, taking a short break gets employees out of their chairs. Sitting for long periods of time is bad for circulation and the joints, and staring at a computer screen without taking a break now and then can be straining on the eyes.

The Right Amount of Caffeine Consumption

Just because caffeine may have positive effects doesn’t mean that the more caffeine you ingest, the more positive effects you’ll experience. Having too much caffeine can cause problems ranging from insomnia to liver damage. Aim for no more than 400 mg of coffee each day, which is around four cups.

It’s important for employees to strike a work-life balance and avoid burnout, and coffee — one of the most beloved drinks in the U.S. — can help with that. Scientists theorized for a long time that caffeine can improve mood, but whether it was the caffeine itself or the rituals surrounding coffee (like going to your favorite café or having a cup of coffee on your porch) that could be thanked for the boost was still unknown. Now, it seems that those positive effects are, in fact, associated with caffeine.

So go ahead and get that second cup!

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