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Wellness > Health

If Caffeine Makes You Anxious, Try These Drinks Instead

With all of the holiday seasonal drinks that are out now, having something to sip on while you do homework is the ultimate mood booster. Unfortunately, if you’re like me and struggle with anxiety, caffeine can often make symptoms a whole lot worse. While your pumpkin spice latte may taste amazing, it can have some pretty nasty side effects such as increased nervousness and restlessness, insomnia, rapid heartbeats, and stomach problems. When you’re a college student with a ton of homework to get through, there’s nothing worse than getting the caffeine shakes when you’ve got deadlines to meet. The heart palpitations are so real!

Not only does caffeine have a huge impact on well-being, but the costs also add up quickly! The amount of money that I’ve spent on Starbucks, Dunkin’, on-campus coffee shops and small cafes around the city is insane. Luckily, there are so many caffeine alternatives out there to support your health. (And wallet!) There’s no need to get FOMO from the Starbucks holiday coffee menu: These alternatives will still keep you cozy and productive enough to get you through your next study sesh.

Hot chocolate

Now that November 1st has hit, we have officially entered the holiday season. It’s time to heal your inner child with a warm hot cocoa. If your go-to caffeine fix is a mocha, hot chocolate is an easy (and delicious) replacement. And now that the holiday menu is out at Starbucks, you can get creative with your order. A few fun flavors to add to the mix are white chocolate, cinnamon dolce, or peppermint syrup if you’re going to Starbucks. (Finally, it’s back!)

Herbal Tea

Whether you like chamomile, ginger, hibiscus, or peppermint, there are so many herbal teas that can help kick that caffeine addiction. I have a really hard time getting into tea, unfortunately. I just couldn’t get on board with the bitter taste. As I’ve discovered more fun ways to spice it up (lots of syrups and sweeteners), I’ve been able to incorporate it into my drink rotation. Any health benefits that I get from herbal tea are probably erased from the heaps of sugar that I dump into it, but at least it doesn’t give me the shakes! 

Chai Latte

The caffeine content in a chai latte completely depends on where you get it from. While it’s not entirely free of caffeine, there’s definitely less than your standard cup of coffee! Since you’re not getting a cup of pure black tea when you order it as a latte, you’ll typically be getting chai-flavored syrup mixed with milk. If you want to ensure that your chai is as low in caffeine as possible, making it homemade can be a great option!


Going along with the tea theme, boba milk tea is such a fun drink alternative. While they’re usually made with black or green tea bases (which do have some caffeine), you can definitely ask for an alternative base with less! If you really want to chef it up, learning how to make your bubble tea at home is a great way to save money. Use that study break to make yourself a little treat!

Apple Cider

While you might not always be able to find apple cider on every coffee shop’s menu, it’s the perfect drink to keep on hand this season. Steamed apple cider with cinnamon on top is my go-to study drink! It gives me all the fall feels.

Milk Steamers

Steamers are such a great caffeine alternative during the colder weather months! They’re also so much cheaper than other drinks since it’s just your steamed milk of choice and whatever flavor you want! There are so many flavors to choose from, especially during the holidays. Some of my faves are brown sugar, apple spice, vanilla, or chocolatey mocha flavors. 


Depending on how much you use, matcha still has some caffeine! Since it’s made from green tea, it has more caffeine than herbal tea would. However, it’s still an amazing alternative to coffee or espresso-based drinks. Like the other drinks, matcha can be delicious if you add in your favorite seasonal flavors to it!

Tumeric Latte

When I worked as a barista at my local coffee shop, so many customers would order turmeric lattes. I never realized how popular the order is. After finally trying it, I completely understand the hype! Not only is it easy to make, but it can also be a great caffeine-free option for chilly days in the library.


I’m getting flashbacks to middle school. But honestly, I was onto something with my vanilla bean frappuccino obsession. Now that Starbucks has fun flavors like pumpkin spice, apple crisp, and mocha cookie crumble, it’s never been easier to ditch the caffeine and tap back into your thirteen-year-old roots.

Dare I Say, Decaf…

I used to be that girl who refused to drink decaf, saying it “tasted different” or that I needed “real” coffee. However, I will no longer be accepting the decaf coffee slander. It gets such a bad rep, and for what? I now swear by decaf coffee, especially if you’re in the habit of having two coffees a day. It’s a simple adjustment that goes a long way.

Gone are the days when we have to suffer through heart palpitations and sleepless nights. Your caffeine-free era doesn’t have to be boring or expensive! Give yourself the gift of relaxation this holiday season by switching up your daily coffee.

Julia is a sophomore at the University of Pittsburgh studying Media and Professional Communications with a minor in Gender, Sexuality, & Women's Studies. She loves to go thrifting, grab a coffee with friends, and go on walks with her dog!