While we’re often willing to buy into myriad potions and practices that claim to reduce stress, we often overlook a simple substance that will actively help to unwind your day. This simple substance is nothing more than water, and this article aims to teach you how it can help you to alleviate the stress from your life in a number of ways; from drinking it to doing yoga in it, or just simply being near it. Read on and discover how Mother Nature has provided us with a natural treatment for the stresses of modern day living.
The Mysterious Link Between Water and Stress
Drink it up
The link between water and stress reduction is one that has been well documented by a number of studies. One clear example of the stress-relieving functions of water comes in the case of cortisol, a stress hormone. If our bodies are mildly dehydrated (as little as half a litre, in fact) then hormones such as cortisol are given the chance to run rampant in our bodies. When we aren’t drinking as much water as we should be, we place stress on our bodies, which then respond in such a way that we’re unable to escape these stress hormones and the negative side effects they have on us.
Simply sipping on a couple of cups of water won’t necessarily do away with all your stress, however. As is the way with vicious circles, studies show that we’re more likely to get dehydrated when we’re already stressed. This is a direct result of our increased heart rates and the negative effect stress can have on our commitments to eating well and drinking enough water. However, while reversing the negative side effects of stress can take a little time, just increasing your daily water intake can help you to cope better during times of extreme stress in your life.
The Link between Water & Stress Reduction in Other Countries
It’s difficult to argue against the value of water in the reduction of stress when it has played a vital role in cultural traditions in many other countries for several hundred years. One example can be found in China, where women do a foot soak known as zu yu, before they go to bed. By immersing their feet up to the ankles in a big pot filled with hot water, any swelling in the feet goes down and blood circulation is improved. Not only can this help to relieve often painful foot conditions, but it also actively encourages the individual to relax by requiring that they sit still and soak for fifteen minutes.
In Russia, people are known to go to the banya, a hot sauna. Sitting in the extreme and moist heat not only encourages the melting away of tensions, but also relieves the skin and body impurities. A hot shower can be as beneficial for those without access to a sauna. Research from Yale University indicates that the enveloping warmth that occurs in a steamy hot shower can act as a trigger for the brain and the body to release emotional warmth, which is why so many people consider a hot shower to be a mood booster.
Buddhism holds the healing properties of water in high regard as well. The virtues assigned to water by Buddhism include calmness, clarity and purity. Water also represents the ‘sweet nectar’ of the Buddha’s teachings – teachings that are intended to quench our spiritual thirst and nourish us, spiritually. A variety of practices in the Buddhist culture involve water, and it plays a vital role not only in the healing of the individual but also in helping them take steps towards enlightenment, or the moment when True Happiness is realised.
Thermal Aquatic Bodywork & Water Yoga
Thermal Aquatic Bodywork is an exercise and therapy program that is done in body temperature water. The intent of this program is to promote the well-being of the individual while alleviating chronic pain and reducing anxiety and stress. Yoga trains the individual consciousness to achieve a state of perfect spiritual insight and tranquillity. Water Yoga takes this one step further, with participants doing the movements in water and allowing it to assist, resist and support them throughout. Taking place in warm water, the Water Yoga harvests the thermal properties of the water to not only assist in healing, but also to encourage the body – and the mind – to let go of stress and relax.
Look & Listen
The stress reducing properties of water are so potent that individuals do not even need to get into it or drink it to benefit from being around it. An indoor or outdoor fountain that delivers the peaceful sound of flowing water can be greatly beneficial in the reduction of stress in the work or home. Other people prefer to take a couple of minutes during their day and study an aquarium full of fish. Strange as it sounds, studies have actually reported that viewing a fish tank can not only reduce stress levels but also lower blood pressure.
So whether it’s sticking to your New Year’s resolution of eight cups of water a day or sleeping with the windows open on a rainy night, be aware that all of your interactions with water may you healthier in a variety of ways, and also help reduce your stress in a natural way.
Robyn Porteous is the creative content manager for The Water Cooler Company, one of the UK’s leading water cooler companies, which sells a wide range of bottled and plumbed water coolers, drinking fountains, water boilers, water filters and accessories. More of her writing can be found on her Google+ profile.