How to Boost Your Mood with One Small and Easy Step Towards Being Your Best Self
If you’ve been feeling irritated, stressed out, overwhelmed, or more anxious than usual, and are looking for relief, you might want to consider one often-overlooked way to boost your mood that’s simple, fast, and free. While no quick fix is as beneficial as connecting with a therapist or Denver life coach, this step is a fast and easy way to help yourself get out of a funk.
The Power of Your Mind / Body Connection
Larger issues are often the true root of our anxiety and stress. When our negative feelings are constant and pervasive, recognizing that messaging and then responding to it is a necessary step in reclaiming your inner peace. Changing the ways we think and behave through therapy or solution-based counseling can help us actualize more mindful and balanced approaches to life’s challenges.
AND it is also true that sometimes the way we feel has little to do with “bigger issues” but is rather a result of our current physiological state. For example, it’s common knowledge that if you drink too much coffee you will experience symptoms of anxiety like muscle tension, jitteriness, and irritability. Or if you are sick or injured, you will experience symptoms similar to those of depression, like exhaustion, wanting to isolate yourself, and feeling unhappy.
In those cases, there are no larger issues to address. Rather, you are simply experiencing a mood state that is connected to what is happening in your body at that moment. When your physical circumstances change, so will your mood.
Did you know that the way you feel emotionally can also be significantly impacted by something as simple as being slightly dehydrated? Yep, being even mildly dehydrated can make you feel stressed out, anxious, overwhelmed and tired even when nothing else is “wrong.”
How to Boost Your Mood: Proper Hydration = Better Mood
The Science Behind Mood & Dehydration
When I first heard about the connection between mood and dehydration, I was skeptical. But when I looked further into the research, I found the data to be pretty darn conclusive.
In 2011, scientists at the University of Connecticut compared groups of people using measures of stress, mood, memory, and mental capacity. Researchers found that even mild dehydration is associated with:
- Difficulty concentrating and completing tasks
- Memory problems
In short? “When your body isn’t nourished, you won’t feel well emotionally, either.”
Here’s the most surprising part: “Mild dehydration” is defined as being around 1.5% under the normal volume of water in your body, which is typically the same level of dehydration that starts to trigger sensations of thirst. This is true for people who are both moving around a lot, or sitting still the way that so many of us do throughout our work day. If you’re exercising, your water loss could be much more dramatic: marathon runners can lose up to 8% of their water volume during a race.
It is easy to get dehydrated, and not even realize it. And even the most happy, psychologically healthy person, with no adverse circumstances in their life, negatively impacted both mentally and emotionally simply by being dehydrated.
Staying sane in a crazy world is hard enough when we are perfectly healthy, both emotionally and physically. And while drinking more water isn’t going to solve all of your life’s problems, it’s important to consider that, especially if you are going through something that is patently stressful or difficult in your life, you may be exacerbating your emotional state by being dehydrated.
When you’re going through something hard, it is extremely important to take care of yourself as well as you can. You might not be immediately able to change your circumstances or make major changes within yourself. But you sure can take simple steps towards self care, like drinking more water, to ensure that your foundation is as strong as possible and to set you on track to boost your mood and feel good again.
Intentionally increasing your water consumption is a holistic way to get out of a funk. Even better, it’s fast, inexpensive, and easy. When you’re well hydrated, you may notice yourself feeling more relaxed, more patient, and more optimistic than when your body is thirsty.
5 Tips for Staying Hydrated
1) Use a larger water bottle. The U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine have determined that men should drink 15.5 cups of fluids each day, and women should drink 11.5 cups. That’s a lot of water! The easiest way to monitor your consumption is by actually putting your daily water in a two liter bottle, and then committing to drinking the whole thing throughout the day (obviously, pouring it into more manageable vessels along the way if you don’t want to lug a huge water bottle with you on your daily jog).
2) Motivate yourself. If measuring out your daily water into one bottle isn’t possible or feels overwhelming, you may consider investing in a “motivational water bottle.” These are smaller water bottles that are refillable and time-stamped on the sides to let you know how much liquid you should have consumed by a certain point in the day, and that encourage you to keep hydrating. Make sure you pick a color you like–you’ll be spending a lot of time with your water bottle!
3) Pay attention to your pee. If you notice that your pee is anything more vivid than a very pale yellow, it means that you are approaching dehydration levels. Get thee to a water fountain, stat!
4) Flavor your water. Adding something to your water–lemon, cucumber, orange, fresh mint leaves–can infuse plain water with a little something special.
5) Be prepared to drink much more water than you think you should. The “two liter a day” rule is a minimum. If you’re hot, exercising, sick, stressed, or tired, drink more.
The next time you’re feeling stressed or irritated, drink a few glasses of water and notice if it boosts your mood. I hope you share your experiences with me in the comments below!
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Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby is the founder and clinical director of Growing Self. She is a licensed psychologist, a licensed marriage and family therapist, and a board-certified coach, as well as the author of “Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to Your Ex Love,” and the host of The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast.