Teenage Use of Caffeine May Increase Anxiety Later in Life

Recent studies with rats, conducted by CU Boulder Neuroscience professor Dr. Ryan Bachtell, indicate that teens who indulge in excessive amounts of caffeinated beverages such as coffee, sodas, and energy drinks tend to develop behaviors that are consistent with anxiety disorders. These behaviors persist even after the caffeine use. Although it has been common for teens to drink caffeinated beverages for decades, these days teens are drinking larger quantities, and are also energy drinks that contain larger amounts of caffeine. Because the teenage brain is still developing, the effects of caffeine are not innocuous. You can access more information about the study HERE.

In my opinion, it makes sense for teens to limit caffeine by ordering smaller sizes, drinking 1/2 caf or decaf, and avoiding the use of energy drinks, especially if they are experiencing anxiety or when there is a family history of anxiety issues. 




More breathing strategies to reduce anxiety

If you have tried just noticing you breathing (see the post on July 6th) and would like to be more intentional with your breathing, and feel more relaxed, try inhaling for 3 seconds (count one thousand one, one thousand two, one thousand three) and notice your chest and belly rise. Then hold your breath for a count of one (one thousand one) before breathing out. Holding your breath briefly will 

Reduce anxiety with breathing techniques

It may seem odd to teach something as basic as breathing...

...but most of us do not breathe as efficiently as we could, and sometimes creates problems for us. When we are stressed, anxious, angry or over-activated we tend to breathe in too much air, and the breaths that we take tend to be shallow, landing in our chests. Breathing in this way maintains that feelings of stress and anxiety because our breathing is closely tied to our autonomic nervous system, which has a lot of influence over the way that we feel physiologically. By simply attending to our breath we can effect change over the way that we feels.  

One way that you can begin to feel less stressed and anxious is to JUST NOTICE your breathing. Notice as your chest moves outwards as you take in air, and then as your stomach expands. It is important that you breathe enough air all the way in to your belly for it to expand as you breathe in.  Notice your collar bones lift up as you breathe in deeply.  

By taking in big full breaths like this we feel more calm and relaxed than if we take in breaths that reach only into our chests. 

Try also counting seconds as you inhale and as you exhale to see how long you spend on each. By noticing that you are spending more time breathing in or out you can begin to balance your breathing so that inhales and exhales take the same amount of time.

When our breathing is balanced we feel more balanced.