When it comes to self-care, hydration often takes a back seat. However, staying properly hydrated is a crucial component of our overall good health and well-being. A steady supply of water is one of our basic needs, and drinking it more often than just when you feel thirsty can help you feel much better in the long run.
By understanding the main reasons for dehydration and the physical and mental benefits of staying hydrated, we can incorporate hydration into our self-care routines and experience the positive effects it has on our health.
There are many different factors that may contribute to dehydration:
Lack of fluid intake or water consumption: Not drinking enough water throughout the day can quickly lead to dehydration.
Excessive sweating:When we engage in regular exercise or physical activity or spend time in hot environments, our bodies lose fluids through sweat.
Alcohol and caffeine intake: Both alcohol and caffeine have diuretic effects, which can increase urine production and put you at a higher risk for dehydration.
When we make efforts to maintain proper hydration, it offers numerous benefits that may support our physical well-being.
Healthy skin:Research indicates that fluid intake plays a crucial role in maintaining skin elasticity and preventing dryness, thus promoting a youthful appearance¹.
Enhanced digestion: Drinking enough water may aid in digestion, prevent constipation, and support a healthy metabolism².
Regulated body temperature: Adequate hydration helps regulate body temperature, preventing overheating or excessive cooling³.
Reduced risk of headaches and migraines: Dehydration is a common trigger for headaches and migraines, so staying hydrated may help prevent these painful episodes⁴.
You may also enjoy benefits to your emotional health by spending time providing your body with good hydration.
Enhanced mood and mental wellbeing: Proper hydration promotes a positive mood, reduces stress levels, and supports mental health, possibly even lowering feelings of depression or anxiety⁵.
Improved brain function: Staying hydrated may boost cognitive function, enhance focus, and improve memory and concentration⁶.
Increased energy levels: Dehydration can cause fatigue and decreased energy levels, but staying hydrated can make you feel more alert while also increasing vitality.
While getting enough sleep and physical activity are more commonly cited self care strategies, proper hydration is important as well. If you find yourself struggling to incorporate more water into your own self-care plan or create a routine to boost your fluid intake, consider the following tips.
You may need to drink more water per day depending on your environment, health conditions, or activity levels, but 8 glasses is a reasonable goal for an average day⁷. If you don't often drink water, it may seem like a lot. Set goals to work your way up to drinking a sufficient amount of water daily in order to ensure proper hydration. You may want to consider replacing sugary drinks like soft drinks with water throughout the day to meet these goals.
It may seem silly to schedule time to drink water, but it is necessary for many busy adults who may find it difficult to manage their health in the midst of a hectic day. Use smartphone apps or alarms to remind yourself to drink water at regular intervals.
Consume fruits and vegetables with high water content, such as watermelon, cucumbers, and oranges. While not as effective as water, other drinks like fruit juice may provide some hydration as well. Consider incorporating fruits or juice into your regular meals for extra hydration.
Caffeine, found in coffee, tea, and many energy drinks, has diuretic properties, which means it can cause increased urine production, potentially leading to fluid loss. While moderate caffeine consumption isn't harmful for most people, excessive intake may contribute to dehydration, especially in hot weather or during physical activity.
Alcohol is a potent diuretic. It not only increases urine output but also impairs the body's ability to conserve water. This double effect can quickly lead to dehydration when alcohol is consumed in excess. Moderation is key for both caffeine and alcohol to avoid these diuretic effects.
By carrying a reusable bottle wherever you go, you ensure free access to fresh water throughout the day, reducing the temptation to reach for less healthy options like sugary drinks while making it convenient and easy to stay hydrated. Additionally, you minimize single-use plastic waste, contributing to a greener planet while staying refreshed.
Treat drinking water as a self-care activity by adding slices of fruit or herbs to infuse flavors into your water and make the experience more enjoyable. This may be a particularly effective method for individuals who are not accustomed to drinking water or who are looking to replace other sugary beverages with water.
Prioritizing good hydration in your daily life is vital for self-care and overall health. Through simple tips and practices, such as drinking enough water, setting reminders, and including hydrating foods in our diets, we can ensure that we are taking care of both our bodies and minds.
Let's embrace the crucial connection between hydration and self-care to achieve optimal health and well-being.
Remember to talk to your doctor for advice about balancing your fluid intake.
(1) Akdeniz, M, et al (August 2018) Does dietary fluid intake affect skin hydration in healthy humans? A systematic literature review
(2) Boilesen, Sabine Nunes, et al (July 2017) Water and fluid intake in the prevention and treatment of functional constipation in children and adolescents: is there evidence?
(3) Sawka, M.N, et al (June 1998) Hydration effects on temperature regulation
(4) Khorsha, Faezeh, et al (July 2020) Association of drinking water and migraine headache severity
(5) Haghighatdoost, Fahimeh, et al (September 2018) Drinking plain water is associated with decreased risk of depression and anxiety in adults: Results from a large cross-sectional study
(7) Mayo Clinic Staff (October 2022) Water: How much should you drink every day?