Six Ways Drinking Water Will Improve Your Winter

As winter approaches, you may find yourself reaching for coffee, tea, and cocoa to stay warm. A warm beverage is an automatic relaxer for me. But these hot beverages often contain caffeine or sugar that dehydrate you, so it’s especially important to remember to drink straight H20 this time of year. Here are a couple of reasons to reach for the water bottle today.

1. Fight Fatigue

A few months ago I mentioned to my friend Andria that I was feeling sluggish despite getting solid sleep each night. She immediately asked about my water intake, and I had to admit I had been slacking. The Mayo Clinic lists fatigue as one of the primary symptoms of dehydration in adults. Water may not replace a good night’s sleep, but it can help you maintain good energy throughout the day.

2. Improve your mood

Recent studies have proven that “even mild hydration can alter a person’s mood, energy level, and ability to think clearly.” When our environment or lifestyle becomes frenzied or stressed (holidays, anyone?) we are more prone to take on the stress and feel the negative effects. Drinking water is an easy way to buffer yourself against the hustle and bustle of the season. Not only can it help improve your mood, you can get an extra dose of happiness knowing that you are doing something good for yourself.

3. Boost digestion

You’ve probably heard that gut health is related to mental health, and good digestion is key to overall health. Drinking water can help get things moving naturally and effectively. The folks at Buzzfeed increased their water intake for a month, and the impacts on their digestion were undeniable. Check out the video We Tried the 30 Day Water Challenge.

4. Minimize dryness

Raise your dry, itchy hand of you apply more lotion in the winter! I sure do. Drinking water combats dryness from the inside, making your skin more supple and your entire body more comfortable. 

5. Silence cravings

Holiday food isn’t known for its nutrition, and colder temps, shorter days, and holiday stress can all lead to overeating and the accompanying feelings of sluggishness. Drinking water to minimize cravings is a great way to help keep your eating in check. The next time you’re feeling peckish,promise yourself you’ll down a glass of water first. You may find you don’t need that extra cookie after all.

6. Add a moment of mindfulness

I saved one of my favorite reasons to drink water for last, and that is the opportunity for mindfulness. Any activity that causes you to pause, think about how you’re feeling, and proceed with thoughtfuless is an exercise in mindfulness, and drinking water can be just that. Before each sip, take a deep breath. Drink slowly, noticing every sensation that comes with it. Take another deep breath after the sip. Name any emotion that arises. Then proceed with your day! Even walking to the water fountain to fill your cup can be mindful. Use it as a break from the busyness and stress and you may find yourself better to handle it all!

The Incredible, Renewable Power of Self Care

It’s flu season, so hopefully not getting sick is on everyone’s mind. We all know the steps: wash your hands, get the flu shot, sleep like a grizzly bear, drink water, eat a balanced diet, and did I mention wash your hands? While these measures won’t guarantee you will avoid getting sick, they give you a fighting chance.

We need to think the same way about our mental and emotional wellness. It’s something that’s just as susceptible to “illness” as the physical body, and just like we can protect ourselves against viruses, we can shore up our minds and souls for the long winter ahead. This is the meaning I give to the buzzwords “self care.”

There’s a reason self care is getting so much attention. It’s a preventive measure that everyone can take to mitigate against depression, anxiety, overeating, psychosomatic symptoms, pain, and, yes, even, physical illness. Self care is cheap, drug-free, and available in unlimited supply. What’s not to love?

A while back I was introduced to the Self Care Wheel for trauma professionals, people whose life work is about helping people heal from trauma. The wheel was designed to get me and my colleagues thinking about the ways we intentionally act as caregivers to ourselves in the midst of caring for others.

Self Care Wheel.png

The wheel is separated into six realms of life, each with a handful of ideas for addressing each of these important areas. Many people may find it easy to identify with one or two sections, while others feel a bit more foreign. I find the “professional” section is an easy one for me since I’m at work everyday and constantly looking for ways to stay nourished. The spiritual and personal sections, on the other hand, could use a bit more of my focus.

The idea here isn’t to see the wheel as a standard to be attained. I use it as a cheat sheet for ideas when I’m feeling off-balance, un-centered, or in need of a pick-me-up. I figure if I do one item from each section per month, I’m on the right track.

I like to think that a good self care routine will not only keep you well day to day, but it also has the long term effect of bolstering self esteem. Similar to the way a parent cares for a child or an owner dotes on their cats- I mean, pets- you are showing yourself love when you give yourself what you need. Setting aside time each day to make yourself a priority is an act of love and the foundation of good self esteem.

It’s helpful for me to remember that self care isn’t the same as self soothing. Self soothing is what you do when you’re feeling terrible and just need some relief: bubble baths, chocolate, and a feel good movie come to mind. If self care is like washing your hands, self soothing is like taking the cold medicine- one is prevention, the other is cure. Both are useful for keeping you well, but self care will help you avoid those difficult moments when you need soothing.

As the days get shorter, the temperatures drop, and you find yourself slipping into a sad mood, consider self care as a way out of the dark. You’ll thank yourself later.

5 Ways to Beat Stress at Your Desk

5 Ways to Beat Stress at Your Desk

The time we spend at work has a profound impact on our overall well being. Stress at work can make us less productive, kills our creativity, and puts us in a bad mood when we go home. Being more mindful at work can reverse all of these effects of stress.

So how do we do it? Here are a few quick ways to beat stress through mindfulness at work: