Hydration as a practice is about self-care. It’s about knowing how to meet the basic needs of our physical body. It is about quenching our thirst and maintaining or restoring the essential fluids that facilitate a multitude of processes in our body.
- From the research there are few negative effects of water intake and the evidence of positive effects is clear.
- PHYSICAL: mild deydration in individuals engaging in rigorous physical activity will experience decreased physical performance as it relates to reduced endurance, increased fatigue, challenges regulating body temperture, reduced motivation, and increased perceived effort.
- EMOTIONAL: dehydration is a risk factor for delirium, and delirium presenting as dementia in the elderly and in the very ill.
- MENTAL: mild dehydration can produce alterations in a number of important aspects of cognitive function such as concentration, alertness and short-term memory.
Water is one of the body’s most basic needs. We can live without food for quite some time but not without water. If you want to move toward greater health in your life but you do not know where to begin, start with a practice of hydrating your body. Incorporate mindfulness and get to know your thirst mechanism. Use this simple practice not only to support your physical, emotional and mental well-being, but as a way to tune into you.
How To Start Practicing
Mindfulness – get to know your thirst response. People often mistake thirst for hunger. A body scan meditation can help you become more familiar with your physical sensations and assist you in listening to your body. When you wake up each morning, take a moment to notice what your body needs. Often we have gone hours without any water and we are thirsty. Pay attention to that sensation. Then drink a glass of water and notice how that feels. Drink slowly and pay attention to your body as you start to rehydrate. A simple practice like this can bring greater awareness your need for water and help prevent dehydration.
How much to drink – a formula you can use to set a target for your water consumption is to drink half your body weight in ounces each day. For instance, if you weigh 160lbs you will need to drink 80 ounces of water each day. You will need to drink more if you are visiting or living in a hot, dry climate, participating in aerobic exercise or drinking caffeinated or sugary drinks.
What to drink – pure water is what your body wants and needs to function properly. Caffeinated drinks and juices are diuretics and when consumed require you to increase your water intake. Additionally, these drinks add unnecessary sugar to your diet and cause weight gain and blood sugar issues. When possible stay away from bottled water. The plastics can leach toxins into your water and the bottles are a huge pollution problem.
Planning – with our busy lives it can be difficult to remember to drink enough water each day. Plan ahead to ensure your success. Use daily cues to remind you to drink. For instance, fill your water bottle each morning as soon as you wake. Keep a stainless steel or glass water bottle in your car and at your office. Plan to drink 30 minutes before each meal. Find a strategy that works with your daily rhythm.
Tools – there are plenty of healthy and safe water bottles on the market these days. Choose a bottle that is made of stainless steel or glass with a silicon sleeve. Make sure the mouth of the bottle is wide enough to make it easy to clean or buy a bottle brush to keep it free from mold. If you like the drinking spout you will be more likely to use the bottle consistently. It is also helpful if the water bottle fits in your car cup holder but you want it to be large enough so you do not have to fill it as often. If you are concerned about your tap water at home or at the office or if your municipality adds fluoride to the water, consider buying a water filter.