In 2012, a year after graduating from college, I broke down: I turned to coffee. After years of insisting I didn’t need coffee and souring my face at its taste, I caved.
It happened at 6:30AM on a Wednesday. I sat in my cubicle at my first traditional office job (the publishing house of CatFancy and DogFancy magazines, the hottest place for crazy pet moms) utterly exhausted. I’d spent the previous months waking up in Los Angeles at 3:30AM to hit the road and drive the 405 to Irvine by 4:45AM, ensuring I made it into the office by 6AM. And I simply couldn’t stay awake any longer.
So I approached the office Keurig and made my first cup of black coffee. My life changed. I woke up; I finished my tasks. I survived lunch, made it through the drive home without yawning. And from that day on, I began relying on coffee to get me through work.
Most adults adore coffee — admittedly, this love is out of pure necessity for many. Few actually enjoy the bitter taste of a cup of joe, but that caffeine boost and the jolt of energy it delivers are what make mornings bearable. And, if you’re a caffeine addict like me, you need another cup or two throughout the day (waking up at 5AM is hard, okay?!).
Sipping a steaming cup of coffee packs a lot of benefits. You’ve probably heard that it can lower the risk of illnesses like heart disease and cancer; that it spurs the metabolism; that it can even help with weight loss. But coffee has another benefit: it’s a fantastic fidget.
Drinking coffee may not seem like a fidget. After all, it’s just drinking. But, as I discuss in my book, reaching for a hot cup of coffee is a habit that’s secretly a form of fidgeting. When you drink coffee, the temperature wakes your brain up. And so too does the caffeine in the beverage you’re drinking. The bitter taste gives your brain a nice little distraction, and once your body absorbs the caffeine, you get the perfect balance of energy, happiness, and motivation to dive into your workload.
And science supports this. A 2005 research study conducted by A. Oei and LR Hartley concluded that participants who drank coffee had a faster response time and improved memory recall. A 2010 research study by A. Nehlig found that coffee boosts focus and helps individuals hone in on the task before them — and the results are particularly helpful for those who are fatigued and unable to focus at all. Business Insider writes that sipping on coffee even puts you in a better mood.
While black coffee is my tasty fidget of choice, you can reap the benefits from your favorite caffeinated beverage as well. Some experts recommend adding a sprinkle of cinnamon into your cup; others believe Bulletproof coffee, which melts butter into a black cup of coffee, is best. Scientific research reported by The Huffington Post UK claims mocha is the magic blend.
Ultimately, there’s one takeaway: don’t quit your coffee habit. And if you don’t enjoy coffee, try a cup of black tea. These potentially healthy forms of caffeine allow you to fidget without moving, without playing with something physical, without leaving your desk. All you need to do is sip some coffee and you’ll find yourself mentally perked up and ready to dive into new tasks.