Six Stress Busters for Balanced Living and Optimum Health
By Kitty J. Boitnott, Ph.D., NBCT, Certified Life Strategies &
Stress Management Coach
I recently gave a brief talk on the six "stress busters" that everyone should keep in mind in order to live a more balanced life with optimum health. Briefly, those stress busters include the following:
(1) Staying hydrated by drinking 64 ounces of water each day
(2) Eating well by taking in whole, unprocessed foods that contain the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that your body craves every day
(3) Sleeping for a minimum of 6 1/2 - 8 hours each night
(4) Exercising for a minimum of 30 minutes each day at least five days a week
(5) Lightening up by seeking something that will make you feel good or make you smile or laugh at least a couple of times a day. Have lunch with a friend. Buy yourself flowers. Do something that just makes you feel good.
(6) Practice daily meditation or mindful prayer every morning for at least 10-20 minutes.
For the next five weeks, I will elaborate more on the other tips, but for today, I am going to speak to the importance of staying properly hydrated. Too many of us walk around mildly dehydrated each day and we don't even know it. By the time you feel thirsty, experts say that it is already too late because your body is craving the water it needs so desperately in order to operate at its optimal level.
The fact is that your body needs water for survival. More than half of your body weight is made up of water. Every cell, tissue, and organ needs an adequate amount of water in order to function properly. Without water your body cannot maintain its temperature, remove waste and toxins that accumulate daily, or lubricate your joints. In short, water is absolutely essential to good health.
To be perfectly clear, I don't mean just any "fluid" when I speak of the importance of hydrating. Soda, for example, doesn't substitute for water, and in fact, new studies are showing just how damaging sodas and drinks high in sugar content can be to your health. It is a good idea to pay attention to the labels on the foods and drinks that you take into your body. If an item is high in sugar or fructose, you might want to limit its intake, especially if you have a tendency toward or a family history of diabetes.
Some experts say that you may substitute non-caloric green or black tea or even coffee in limited amounts for the purpose of staying hydrated, but I would suggest that you drink those items in addition to rather than as a substitute for drinking water. It cannot be overstated that your body needs water and your cells and organs crave it. Your brain even needs to be properly hydrated. That foggy feeling you sometimes experience in the middle of the afternoon may well be because your brain is dehydrated and simply needs water.
You need to drink water throughout the day because your body eliminates it throughout the day through trips to the bathroom and sweat...even through your breath. You also need to increase your water intake when the weather is hot or when you are exercising or if you are sick because your body is in danger of becoming dehydrated which can lead to a whole host of health issues if you don't re-hydrate.
Most experts agree that a reasonable goal is for the average adult to drink 6 to 8 8-ounce glasses of water each day. Some ways to stay hydrated through the day include the following:
- Keep a bottle of water with you during the day. Perhaps carrying a reusable water bottle and filling it from the tap rather than buying bottled water will be more economical and will save on the waste of plastic bottles that are discarded after use.
- If you don't like the taste of water, flavor it with a slice of fresh lemon or lime or add a low-calorie flavoring to it. You still get the benefits of the nutrients and the hydrating effects of the water.
- If you are going to be exercising, make sure to drink MORE water before, during, and after your workout.
- If you start to feel hungry, drink water first. Often the sensation of hunger is triggered by thirst.
- Drink throughout the day at regular intervals. If you have trouble with waking up in the middle of the night, however, in need of a trip to the bathroom, you might want to stop your water intake a couple of hours before bedtime.
Next week, I will offer suggestions for improving your health through better eating. Until then, I hope you will find these tips and ideas useful.