Mental health and hydration – two terms you don’t normally see in the same sentence. But when you consider that your brain is made up of 75% water, it’s easy to see the connection between the two.
If you’re not drinking enough water each day, you’re not only damaging your body, you’re putting your mental well-being at risk.
But how do you define mental health? And what impact does dehydration have on your emotional well-being?
What is Mental Health?
When you’re mentally healthy, you’re confident in yourself. You have an overall sense of well-being. You can tackle life’s difficulties. You appreciate life – and the people in it.
Poor mental health makes it difficult to have meaningful and positive relationships. And seemingly small challenges can make you feel like you’re climbing a mountain.
How Hydration Effects Your Mental Well-Being
If you have issues with stress and anxiety (who doesn’t?), dehydration can actually make you feel like you’re having an anxiety attack – even if you’re not.
Just take a look at some of the most common symptoms of mild dehydration:
- Dry mouth
While staying hydrated won’t make your anxiety disappear, it can help ease your symptoms – or in the very least, prevent them from getting out of control.
But stress and anxiety aren’t the only issues at play. Your brain’s physical health is at risk when you’re dehydrated.
Your Brain on Dehydration
You’ve been told that water is essential – more important than food. But why? Aside from our bodies being made up of about 60% water, we’re also unable to store water. Once we use it up, it’s gone for good.
If the body needs more water and you don’t supply it, it will take water from the cells in your body and your brain. And when this happens, your brain tissues actually shrink. This is why dehydration, even mild cases, can impact your mental health.
And here’s the thing: your body doesn’t start throwing out thirst signals until you’re already 2%-3% dehydrated. In other words, the damage has already been done.
Mild cases of dehydration can cause irritability and anxiety. Severe cases can cause hallucinations.
Most people don’t even realize that they’re dehydrated. But even with mild cases, cognitive function is impaired, and it becomes difficult to solve everyday problems.
So, if you’ve been walking around in a fog, it may just be that your body needs more water. Aim for at least 8 cups a day. You can further improve the absorption of the water by ensuring it is good quality by either drinking mineral water or making sure you drink filtered water.
Other Ways to Boost Your Mental Health
Staying hydrated is a great way to improve your mental health, but there are other things you can do boost your overall sense of well-being:
- Exercise regularly
- Get more sleep
- Relax and find ways to alleviate stress
- Eat a balanced diet
- Talk to others about your feelings
- Spend more quality time with friends and family
- Take up new hobbies and skills
Good mental health is crucial. Staying hydrated can help keep your mind at ease, and help you go through your day with improved mental clarity.