When you think of sipping a delicious cup of coffee odds are, your first thought is not ‘ah, I feel so relaxed’. You may, however, feel more at peace, a little cheerier, or even buoyant. While you may not consciously process it, this sense of ease is the result of a chemical change in your brain, grace à your coffee.
Coffee facilitates the production and release of dopamine to the prefrontal cortex of the brain, an area responsible for mood regulation, while blocking the adenosine receptors. The release of dopamine, along with serotonin and noradrenaline makes us feel good by collectively creating a natural mild antidepressant. This increase in natural feel-good chemicals boosts mood, improves cognition, and even reduces the risk of depression*. While these feel-good chemicals are kicking in, adenosine receptors are being blocked, preventing your body from developing a stress response, such as a bad mood, anxiety, depression, or cognitive confusion. Collectively, these two processes help you relax by making you feel happier and managing your stress response. Bottom line: the next time you feel anxious, overwhelmed, or stressed (or just want to properly relax!), grab a cup of coffee, sit back, and let the caffeine work its magic.
We hope this blog has given you another valuable tool in your efforts to preserve that much coveted mental and emotional calm. To learn more about the mental, physical, and psychological benefits of coffee, check out other posts in our Wellness Series or the below blogs.
*Studies have shown that those who drink at least four cups of coffee per day reduce their risk of depression by 20%; those that drink at least two cups reduce their risk of suicide by 45%. Sources listed below:
For additional source data, please visit our Coffee & Health blog.