National Stress Awareness Day is observed this year on Wednesday November 3rd, with aims to identify and reduce stress factors, and to highlight the importance of managing stress. On this important day, it’s a great time to discover new information and helpful practices, including why water is vital for maintaining your mental health.
Water is an essential nutrient which has numerous critical roles in the human body. An adequate supply of quality water is crucial since dehydration disrupts its proper functioning. Water is required in amounts that exceed the body’s ability to produce it and since our bodies have no way to store water, fresh supplies are needed every day.
Water has a major affect not just on physical health, but on mental health as well. The average brain is made up of 73% water and brain function can be severely impacted by dehydration. In fact, numerous studies describe links between dehydration, mood, fatigue, alertness, and a higher risk of anxiety and depression.
In these studies, those who drank sufficient amounts of water daily were more likely to be mentally healthy and happy, calm and satisfied, whereas those with lowered water intake were less calm, more overwhelmed, and more prone to feelings of dissatisfaction.
Simply stated, dehydration increases stress in the body. Stress is also one of the major contributing factors to depression. Stress and anxiety are often used interchangeably, but while stress focuses mainly on external pressures, anxiety is typically persistent, excessive worries that don’t disappear even in the absence of a stressor.
One of the most effective ways to help combat mental illnesses is to remain properly hydrated. However, many people who are struggling with stress, anxiety, or feelings of depression forget to drink sufficient water. It can easily become a cycle where dehydration causes stress and stress causes dehydration.
Additionally, while most people feel thirsty when dehydrated, not everyone is attuned to it, and some do not even feel a sensation of thirst. Therefore, it is important to be aware of the symptoms of not drinking enough water, such as dark colored urine, a dry and sticky mouth and eyes, feeling dizzy, lightheaded, tired, stressed or impatient. Further, it is always a good plan to monitor the time between glasses of water.
Of course, staying adequately hydrated is not a cure-all for depression or anxiety and it is best to seek the assistance of a mental health professional when needed. Yet drinking enough water daily can help alleviate many of the causes and symptoms and should be a major part of your long-term mental health management plan.
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