How Drinking Water Enhances Emotional and Mental Health

*Collaborative post

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We need water to survive. Yet so often we take it for granted. We forget just how critical staying hydrated is for our health – not just physically, but mentally and emotionally as well.

As it turns out, even mild dehydration can significantly impact our mood, energy levels, and overall sense of well-being. Fortunately, the solution is simple. By making a conscious effort to drink more water each day, we can enhance our emotional and mental health in profound and lasting ways.

Why We Get Dehydrated

Our bodies are made up of over 60% water. 

It makes sense that when we don’t drink enough, dehydration sets in. But in today’s busy world, it’s easy to forget to drink water. We get distracted by work, family obligations, and crammed schedules. Only when we feel overly thirsty do we realize our water intake has been inadequate.

The problem is: thirst isn’t a reliable indicator of dehydration. By the time we feel parched, dehydration has already begun to negatively impact our bodies and minds. Studies using brain scans show that mild dehydration actually reduces blood circulation in certain neural regions.

Emotional and Mental Impacts

Most of us already know the physical signs of dehydration – dry mouth, headache, dizziness. What we often don’t realize is that dehydration also hampers our psychological well-being.

Research indicates that chronically dehydrated people are at higher risk for low moods and depression. Even at only 1% dehydration, changes start occurring mentally and emotionally:

  • Irritability
  • Lack of focus
  • Low motivation
  • Heightened frustration
  • Augmented anxiety

As dehydration progresses, these effects worsen. Critical aspects like reasoning, decision-making, comprehension and alertness deteriorate. Memory functioning and vigilance decline as well.

Quite simply, the more dehydrated we become, the worse we feel emotionally. Our outlook darkens, small frustrations feel amplified, and a persistent sense of gloom sets in.

Why Water Boosts Mood

Research has confirmed that upping our water intake positively influences mood and sense of well-being. But what’s behind the boosting power of H20?

Blood Flow & Energy

One reason is increased blood flow. When hydrated, circulation surges, including to the brain. Enhanced cerebral blood flow is tied to sharper cognition, better focus, elevated vigor and decreased tension.

With plentiful hydration, we simply feel more energized emotionally. Vitality rises, creating a cascading positive impact on mood.

Hormone Optimization

Staying hydrated also optimizes release of key hormones that influence how we feel. For instance, with sufficient fluids the hormone cortisol is more balanced.

Cortisol is needed for vital functions like metabolism and blood pressure regulation. But in excess, it makes us prone to low mood, anxiety and cloudy thinking. Proper hydration keeps cortisol in check, minimizing mood instability.

Another example is oxytocin, known as the “love hormone” for its role in affection, bonding and intimacy. Research shows fluid intake boosts oxytocin levels, enhancing our sense of optimism and connectivity.

Toxin Flushing

Adequate water also flushes toxins from the body and brain that can degrade mood if allowed to accumulate. It acts like a cleansing agent, preventing negative mental and emotional buildup.

Without this continual cleansing, microbial byproducts, cellular debris and metabolic waste products grow. An accumulation of these toxins is tied to mental fog, melancholy and muddled thinking.

Staying hydrated washes away these toxic compounds before they impact the brain and emotions. It keeps our system clean and optimized for positive functioning.

Digestion & Gut Health Aid

Drinking sufficient water further supports digestion and healthy gut function. And our gastrointestinal health has a direct link to mental health.

With plentiful fluids, digestion remains regular, reducing problems like constipation and bloating. Well hydrated, the beneficial gut bacteria needed for emotional balance and serotonin production thrive.

Promoting robust digestion and gut health through drinking water has demonstrated benefits for diminishing depression, stress and unease. It’s yet another way proper hydration lifts our spirits.

More Buoyant Sleep

Getting enough fluids also leads to improved sleep, which fundamentally influences mood and outlook. Chronic low-grade dehydration degrades sleep quality in multiple ways. It can cause waking in the night, sleep fragmentation and insufficient time spent in restorative sleep cycles.

When our water intake is adequate, sleep suffers less disruption. We fall asleep faster, sleep more soundly through the night and spend ample time in rejuvenating REM sleep.

With enhanced sleep health comes better coping skills for emotional ups and downs. Both cognitive abilities and emotional resilience are replenished after a hydration supported deep sleep.

Exercise Enabler

Physical activity powerfully alleviates sadness, anxiety and mental cloudiness. Proper water intake allows us to exercise more consistently and effectively. Even mild dehydration markedly decreases athletic endurance and performance.

Staying well hydrated lets us fully reap the mood boosting benefits of regular exercise. It allows sustaining longer, less strained workouts that stimulate feel good endorphins.

Through enabling more productive, health elevating activity, sufficient water intake potently promotes emotional wellness.

Easy First Steps

All this confirms that staying well hydrated unambiguously enhances mood, outlook and sense of wholeness. Quite simply, drinking enough water makes us feel better emotionally.

With this in mind, here are three easy first steps for upping your daily water intake:

#1 Drink Water First Thing

Start your day by drinking 2 full glasses (16 oz) of water immediately upon waking. This helps rehydrate after sleep, sending energizing blood flow to the brain. It sets your mind and mood on the right track from morning onwards. If you find the taste of plain water boring, have you thought about adding some flavor? Pick your favorite, whether it’s orange, cherry or watermelon water and drink it down. 

#2 Always Have Water Nearby

Keep water extremely handy both at home and work so drinking it requires minimal effort. Have an appealing water bottle on your desk, nightstand, coffee table and kitchen counter. Let convenience nudge you to drink more.

#3 Set Hourly Alerts

Stay on top of continual hydration by setting a recurring phone alert to drink water every 60 minutes during waking hours. Simple phone reminders keep us steadily sipping throughout the day.

Give this trio a try for the next week. The impact on your senses of optimism, tranquility and mental sharpness may surprise you.

And if you find sticking to just these three tactics tough, explore mobile apps that gamify drinking enough water. External motivation can work wonders helping ingrain a new hydration habit.

Final Thoughts

We all experience lows emotionally at times. Mental funks, mood instability and feeling “off” emotionally are an inevitable part of life.

While drinking water is no cure-all for emotional turmoil or mental health conditions, staying well hydrated undeniably lifts our spirits. It primes our body and mind for cheerier emotion, sunnier thinking and enhanced contentment.

So, next time you feel yourself struggling mood-wise, pause and have some H20. That simple act of nourishing your mind and body with pure, clean water just may be the lift you need!

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