If there is one word that can sum up most people’s lives nowadays, that word would be stress. We do a number of things to try to modify our body’s response to stress, including but not limited to, relaxation techniques, exercise, taking naps, going on vacation, eating bonbons late at night in front of our favorite TV show, etc.
Another thing some people do in stressful situations is drink coffee or other caffeinated beverages. My fellow caffeine addicts and I are often ridiculed by others for drinking caffeinated beverages in stressful situations because one would logically assume that caffeine, being a stimulant, would have the opposite effect, and only make symptoms of stress more pronounced.
But those of us who attend meetings of caffeine drinkers anonymous are quick to argue the fact that it does not have that affect on us – and now we have scientific proof that we were right. A paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences describes the mechanism by which caffeine modulates a brain receptor that is known to correlate with depression and memory deterioration. Modifying this brain receptor also provides a very calming effect and thus proves that, although caffeine is a stimulant, one mechanism of its action in the brain is to help modify stressful responses.
That certainly does not mean drinking caffeinated beverages is the answer to all your stress-related problems, or your body’s ability to handle stress-related problems. It does, however, provide yet another potential mechanism, in the big picture, to help you deal with this all too common concern we all deal with called stress.