Often, at the end of a session, we encourage our clients to remember to drink plenty of water. How much water you consume on a daily basis is also a routine part of our assessment process. Why? Do we want you to stay hydrated and keep your skin looking great? Definitely! But it’s also more than that. Water plays a key role in how the body functions. It can help our bodies recover and heal from physical and emotional stressors. It does this by flushing cortisol (a stress hormone) from our systems, along with other toxins. Water also assists in regulating our moods (reducing anxiety, improving depression) because it promotes optimal functioning in the brain and body while at the same time pulling (emotional) toxins out. Additionally, water has been demonstrated to play a role in regulating our sleep/wake cycles.
Most of us these days are dealing with multiple stressors on a daily basis: our jobs, our kids, household management, money and finances, health issues, our partners, relatives and friends, not to mention current geo-political and environmental stressors. But, did you ever consider dehydration itself as a stressor? Did you know that being even a half-liter dehydrated can increase your cortisol levels? And we know that cortisol is a stress hormone linked directly to feeling anxious. Imagine the effect on your body of being chronically dehydrated. When your body doesn’t have enough fuel in the form of water and food (for stable blood sugar), it will run on stress (cortisol and adrenaline) to keep you going. The question then becomes how much water do we need to stay hydrated? The answer is that it depends. There are many individual factors to take into account including your size, physical activity level, current stress level, and diet to name a few. There are however, some guidelines: the Mayo Clinic recommends drinking 8-8oz glasses of water per day (64 oz), about a half a gallon of water per day. Other sources suggest consuming .5-1 oz of water for every pound that you weigh (so essentially taking your body weight and dividing it in half). So, for someone who weighs 150 lbs, that’s 75 oz of water per day. Keep in mind that the amount of water you will need to feel good goes up in stressful situations, whether the stress is physical or mental/emotional.
This happens because when a stressful event occurs (external or internal), our bodies release a flood of cortisol preparing the body for fight or flight. The fight or flight response directs energy and blood to your arms and legs (to prepare you to run or defend) and away from areas like the stomach and intestines (where digestion occurs), which are not critical to survival. So, if you do experience a flood of cortisol, we recommend that you offset it with a healthy amount of water, taking in .5-1 oz for every pound that you weigh. Drinking water allows your body to remove the cortisol and return to a healthy balance. There is another complicating factor for many of us: caffeine. Caffeine is something that many of us rely on on a daily basis. But did you know that caffeine is dehydrating? In addition, it also promotes the production of cortisol in the body, so it’s a double whammy! So, along with your morning coffee, make sure you also include a glass of water.
The takeaway: drinking more water is a great way to lower your anxiety and stress levels, and contribute overall to a greater level of health. So, drink up, people!
If you feel you could benefit from additional strategies to manage stress and lower your anxiety, we can help! Give us a call at (716) 926-6009 or click here to schedule an appointment.