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If no one has told you yet, allow me. You do not need to drink 8 glasses of water a day to be properly hydrated. And you definitely do not need to drink a gallon. In fact, drinking too much water could be diluting vital nutrients and having an adverse effect on your health.
But, proper hydration is a really important aspect of overall wellness (and productivity!), so what does proper hydration actually look like? It looks like sipping water consistently throughout the day, getting regular movement, and eating a diet that is high in plants. Plants combine water with trace minerals and electrolytes, which helps our body utilize it more efficiently. This type of hydration, rather than just flooding your body with ounces, helps you experience deep-level hydration that can have incredible physical and cognitive benefits.
Not only will your skin, hair, and nails look better thanks to hydration, but you will likely notice an increase in your reaction time, energy, ability to focus, and even your mood or creativity!
While consistency throughout the day is key, there are also a few important times when making sure you get some water can be extra helpful. Consuming water at these five key times throughout the day can help you stay hydrated, increase your energy, improve your focus, elevate your mood, and make you more productive.
Our body is hard at work while we sleep, ensuring it cleans out all the cellular waste we created during the day. When we’re sleeping is the only time our body can clean hard-to-reach places, like our brain.
When you wake up, that cellular waste is sitting at collection points throughout your body, and consuming a hydrating beverage that your body can deeply absorb will help jumpstart the removal of this waste. To get started you can just keep 12 ounces of water next to the bed and make it a habit to drink it as soon as you wake up or your alarm goes off. Once you establish the habit, you can try something like my Morning Water routine. This combines warm lemon water with natural sea salt (electrolytes and minerals) and chia seeds (fiber) to help your body absorb the hydration and prime your entire system for the day.
There’s no time like the present, right? That is especially true with hydration because if you feel thirsty you are already experiencing other side effects of mild hydration like brain fog and fatigue.
Hydration is cumulative, so it’s much more effective to be consistent rather than playing catch-up by chugging water when you are suddenly “dying of thirst”.
Get a designated water cup (this one is my all-time favorite) and keep it with you throughout the day. Take it in the car during your commute. Keep it on your desk while you work. Bring it to meetings. Put it by the bed at night. This creates a visual cue, and as your natural thirst indicators are restored you’ll likely find yourself reaching for it naturally and consuming 40-60 ounces of water a day without much effort.
A warm shower, good massage, or even at-home self-care routines like dry brushing or foam rolling can rev up our lymphatic system. This is a great time to ensure you are hydrated to help facilitate that process. Studies have also shown that a glass of water before a warm shower or sauna can help maintain healthy blood pressure. Now you know why they always offer you water at the spa.
Few of us connect our mental state or mental health to hydration, but we should! Hydration has a direct impact on the concentration of the hormones in your body. People who are even mildly dehydrated are more likely to feel anxious or experience depression, it’s also shown to help regulate your moods and help you process difficult situations.
So the next time your emotions or mental health feel off, try drinking some water. It isn’t always the answer (therapy and medication are your friends!) but they can be a great way to get yourself out of a bad mood or the afternoon slump.
Just like it’s important to drink water when we wake up, it’s important that we’re hydrated before our head hits the pillow, too! That deep cleaning process I was talking about earlier requires a lot of water, and the more hydrated you are, the more fluid your body can utilize for that process (and the more cellular waste it can remove!). Think of a car wash running on limited water — yikes. The failure to remove cellular waste is one of the many causes of disease, so ensuring it’s able to effectively remove this waste while you sleep is an important part of prevention.
It can also ensure you get a good night of sleep! Because as we discussed, it helps regulate your mood and your hormones (which means less late-night anxiety) and also helps regulate your body temperature — an important part of sleep.
Want to develop more hydrating habits or learn more about optimum hydration? I recommend reading the book Quench by Dr. Dana Cohen and Gina Bria. If you want a summary, you can check out my post/podcast, “Creating Hydrating Habits” or try out my 2-week hydration course, The Hydration Checklist, which will help you develop hydrating habits one day at a time.
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