Home Health & Wellness Nourishing the Mind and Body: The Psychological Benefits of Hydration

Nourishing the Mind and Body: The Psychological Benefits of Hydration

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Nothing puts an exclamation point on the importance of water quite like the sci-fi adventure book or film Dune. To the Fremen, it was everything. From their suits to their spit.

Water is life. And not just in science fiction. It is the basis of our very existence. The emphasis on hydration usually circles back to its role in sustaining bodily functions. But what about the psychological impact and advantages of proper hydration on the human mind? 

You may be surprised at the impact electrolytes and a well-nourished body can have on mental well-being.

The impact of hydration on mood

Have you ever sat back and wondered why nothing hits the spot quite like a glass of ice-cold water on a hot summer day? Dehydration has been linked to an increase in cortisol levels, which can lead to feelings of anxiety and stress

Adequate hydration assists the body in regulating stress hormones. More water in your life translates to a more balanced, less agitated emotional state. Hydration also supports the production and function of serotonin. It’s the neurotransmitter responsible for feelings of happiness and well-being. 

When we don’t drink enough water, serotonin production dips. This can potentially contribute to sour moods and eventually turn into depression.

Electrolytes are substances that conduct electricity when dissolved in water. They regulate nerve and muscle function and support the efficiency of our cardiovascular system. So the more active you are, the more you need to keep an eye on electrolytes.

When we talk about hydration, it’s not just about water intake but also about balancing these key minerals. A lack of proper electrolyte balance can lead to fatigue, irritability, and muscle cramps.

An easy fix is to carry some electrolytes with you in your gym bag, like that made by Harlo, to add to your water after your workout for a quick pick-me-up.

Hydration and cognitive function

Hydration helps maintain basic cognitive skills like concentration, alertness, and short-term memory.

Mental performance can degrade with just a small loss of body water. For the average busy adult, it doesn’t take much to reach this level. Staying hydrated gives your brain the fuel it needs to operate at its optimal level.

But water’s role goes well beyond the short term. Individuals may maintain better brain health over their lifetimes by keeping their bodies hydrated. A sufficient water intake can often mitigate brain fog, memory lapses, and difficulty conceptualising as you age. 

Stress reduction through hydration

High stress levels can lead to increased water loss due to sweating and higher energy demands on the body’s functions. Proper hydration maintains energy levels and helps cope with stress.

The power of water in aiding relaxation is often underappreciated in favour of meditation or exercise. But combining all three of these is “the ticket”. Drinking a glass of water can quickly and effectively calm your body’s stress response and bring you back to a more centred state.

Hydration habits are important for psychological well-being

Start your day with a glass of water. Hydrate before slamming the coffee or tea. It will kick-start your metabolism. Then, continue to drink water consistently throughout the day.

If you want to be really hardcore, you can track your intake with a journal or an app. It helps some people monitor their hydration levels. Whether you visit a spa for its hydrating treatments or take a moment before bed to enjoy a glass of water with mindfulness, hydration can enhance your well-being.

Incorporate hydrating foods like watermelon, cucumber, and oranges into your diet. They contribute to your daily water intake and provide essential nutrients.

Live your best life with more water

The psychological benefits of hydration range from enhanced cognitive function to helping manage daily stress. It’s a simple practice that holds the key to unlocking and sustaining our psychological well-being.

Incorporate hydration into your daily rituals and see how the act of drinking more water can transform your mood, mind, and approach to life. Your body and mind will thank you for it.

David Radar, a psychology graduate from the University of Hertfordshire, has a keen interest in the fields of mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.

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