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The importance of maintaining optimal hydration is widely know. The list of physical and mental benefits is long and if you want to read some scientific studies and research you can stay busy for weeks by google the matter. You have probably heard the advice to frequently drink water, switch from sugary drinks to water, starting the day with a large glass of water and so on. In short, our body functions better when we are hydrated and being dehydrated has significant effects on our mental capacity too, so much so that hydrated individuals show a lower risk of anxiety and depression.
During pregnancy and postpartum, whether you are breastfeeding or not, staying hydrated can have a big impact on how you feel and recover postpartum.
Since most of us have clean drinking water available and the benefits are so obviously and widely known, it seems like a simple task to drink water during the day and stay hydrated, yet many people report that they struggle to take in a sufficient amounts of water during their day.
Let's look at some real tips to help you drink more water, because life is better when you are hydrated!
1. Build a habit: The first step is to create a new habit. Come up with ideas how you can drink more water that suite your daily life and schedule. You might have a time in which you actually drink a good amount of water and other times were you don't drink enough. Identify what might influence your behavior in those moments. The following tips can help you come up with ideas too. It is important to spend some time in the planning phase to design lasting habits, rather than diving into the 'action phase' without any data on what drives your decisions and behaviors. It can take up to 21 -30 days of consistent effort to establish a new habit - to measure your progress, you can use a habit tracker (in digital form, such as an app or on paper - pin it on your fridge and log your daily progress.) or set daily reminders on your phone to drink frequently.
Habit Tip: New habits are easiest installed as 'add on' to an existing habit. For example, do you drink coffee every morning? Great, make it a habit to drink a glass of water as you are waiting for your coffee to brew or simply before drinking the first cup, drink a glass of water before eating lunch or make it a habit to drink more water on your ride to work.
2. Prepare: It sounds simple enough to grab a glass of water or fill up your water bottle, but sometimes not having water ready to go is all that keeps us from drinking more. Get your water ready to go and easily accessible. What can that look like? Fill a few water bottles and get them ready in which ever way you prefer and where you will need them. Whether you fill up your to go bottle with flavors added, have a glass of water ready next to the coffee maker for your morning routine, refrigerate some water if you like it chilled, place a bottle next to your bed and store some in your car as back up. Remember that you can ask for water in most coffee shops and restaurants even for to go orders. You can make it a habit to get your to go bottle refill or grab a glass every time you order a coffee.
3. Make it fun, make it fancy: I got myself a water cup with straw which made it easier for me to drink while busy with newborn and toddler around. The cups look nice and made the simple act of drinking water more fun and fancy. You can find water bottles in any shape and color these days. Think about your every day life and see how you can make your water more exciting. Maybe fancy ice cubes, a fun straw (that's what my toddler would do!), a pitcher with valve to visualize how much you set out to drink on a daily basis, or a water filter for the kitchen sink. The actual 'improvement' might not make a big difference, but 'who pays, pays attention' - so investing into anything (even investing time in thinking about this) can create more value around the act of drinking water and can help you improve that behavior.
4. Add natural flavors: Water is just not that exciting and it has a lot to compete with. While you can buy a number of flavored (low or none sugar) waters, remember how easy it is to create that at home. Add a splash of lemon juice (or a slice of lemon or lime), use some fruits from breakfast to flavor your water or add a little bit of juice. Veggies work well too. You can find a flavor combination that works for you.
Hydration Pro Tip: Soak Chia seeds in water before drink it. Chia seeds absorb thirty times their own weight in water. When ingested it can help regulate the level of body fluids and support the retention of electrolytes, which are both important factors in order to stay hydrated. This method can be helpful when you go on long flights or car rides or any situations with little access to bathrooms as well as situations involving strenuous activities in heat and humidity.
5. Add other flavors: My favorite added flavors are Water Drops. It's a quick and easy way to add taste to your water and it is perfect travel size, comes with many options and each includes vitamins. Liquid IV is a great way to get your electrolytes in as well.
(It is always recommend to do your own product research based on your needs, health history etc. to insure you get the best possible health benefits unique to you.)
6. Bubble it up: It might not be everyones cup of tea, but it really makes my water drinking more frequent: bubbly water. We use the soda stream machine to bubble up our water and it sometime just feels more impactful to drink carbonated water. There is something about the right amount of bubbles that quenches the thirst.
7. Listen to your body: Perhaps is not the water or our will power or habits after all?! Many of us are working jobs in which our mind is our biggest asset. So there we are, sitting on our screen in virtual conferences with other continents, solving issues, writing creative articles and investing our brain power into whatever project we are working on. Nice going! But how easy is it to forget about our body, our needs? When we are busy and focused, we might not even be aware of the thirst signals our body is sending us. We might suppress any warning signs that we are close to dehydration, because we are busy doing 'important' work. Practicing self-care, mindfulness or meditation can help regain the power to do self-checks frequently, to stay in tune with our mind and body and allow ourself to act on it.
Finally: Drink more on hot days, during exercising and when sick.