When we are hot and thirsty we know we need water. But what about when we are under stress or feeling depressed? If we are rushing to get everything done, it is not uncommon to forget little things that would help our bodies get through the stress we are experiencing. And if we are depressed, we may not feel much motivation to take care of ourselves. Yet, in both cases, a lack of water may be making us feel worse.
Do you catch yourself breathing too shallowly or too fast? Do your legs ache, or you feel worn out all over? Do you have trouble concentrating or find your vision getting blurry? If you name your stress as the cause of your discomfort, you may be right. But would it surprise you to learn that these achy, fuzzy mind symptoms are also symptoms of dehydration?
Beyond being parched
I remember reading once that our feelings of thirst are actually one of the last symptoms that our body’s water supply is running low. It’s another one of those signals our bodies send out to get our attention. If we are not vigilant enough to drink water when we should, then having our mouths turn into a desert will force us to do something about it.
Technically, dehydration is when our bodies lose more water than we are taking in. We usually recognize the losing water part when we work up a sweat, or the summer heat seems to sap all our strength. And even in winter, dry heated air draws moisture away. If we don’t recognize how much water we are losing, we may simply fail to take in as much as we need.
According to the American Heart Association (AHA), even mild dehydration, (a loss of 1 to 2 percent of body weight) is enough to cause us to feel tired, dizzy, and weak. Mild dehydration can also lead to either high or low blood pressure. High blood pressure is further related to how we handle stress, and low blood pressure can contribute to depression.
Water holds a wealth of benefits.
When we are depressed, worried or under stress, anything we do to alleviate the discomfort in our bodies makes us a little more able to face whatever we are dealing with. Drinking more water seems so easy and ordinary that we may not realize all the good it does.
- Drinking more water can help us eat less. Experts say that sometimes we snack because we don’t know we are thirsty. Having something to sip is refreshing, and it gives our mouth something to do.
- Drinking water before exercise increases stamina and prevents losing too much from perspiration. Sipping water during exercise helps keep you going, and helps muscles recover afterward.
- Reduce headaches and muscle aches by drinking more water. Body aches and headaches may be unrecognized symptoms of dehydration. If you are under stress or suffering from depression, less pain helps your mind move to more positive thoughts.
- Maintain moisture levels in your skin and eyes, by drinking more water throughout the day. Dry climates, indoor heat and air conditioning, and computer or TV screens dry us out all over, so it is essential to replenish what we lose.
- You can use drinking water before meditation practice as a tiny ritual, refreshing your body and signaling your mind that you want to be calm.
- Keep your mouth healthy and fresh by refreshing it with more water. Not only will your mouth feel better, but preventing a dry mouth will help maintain healthy gums and teeth.
The thought of drinking 8 glasses of water a day can sound daunting to some people, so they may try to take in too much at one time. Sipping water throughout the day is much easier for your body than getting flooded with it once or twice a day. Plus, keeping moisture levels steady helps prevent the uncomfortable symptoms of dehydration, and keeps your body more able to withstand outside stress.
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