Why just water won’t hydrate you!

We are all experiencing very hot weather, for some sadly a fever, anxiety and others tummy bugs! As humans, sweating is our bodies way of trying to regulate our temperature to cool ourselves down. When we sweat we loose water and electrolytes. When we have a tummy bug we also loose water and electrolytes.

To rehydrate in hot weather, when you have a fever or or tummy bug it is vital to include electrolytes in your drink. Electrolytes help balance the amount of water you have in your body. Just drinking lots of water doesn’t hydrate you, and you can end up drinking too much water! Electrolytes include sodium and potassium. Sodium helps with osmosis the process of drawing water across the cell membrane to help rebalance water in the body.

The best ways to keep yourselves and loved ones rehydrated are to drink:

  • Milk
  • Coconut water
  • An isotonic sports drink
  • Make your own isotonic drink = 1/4 teaspoon salt or Himalayan salt + 1 part squash or 2 parts fruit juice and mix in bottle of 500ml- 1litre
  • electrolyte sachets

Glucose (sugar) in squash and fruit juice along with sodium (salt) is required in small quantities to help restore hydration.

Signs of dehydration include:

  • headaches
  • confusion
  • feeling thirsty
  • dark coloured urine or not passing urine
  • feeling tired
  • dry mouth
  • clammy skin

  • Dehydration is a serious thing in this heat or if you are unwell. If you are not passing urine, or have elderly relatives or young children who are drowsy, not passing urine and breathing fast medical advice should be sought quickly.
  • As a physiologist for the past 14 years I have guided both sports people and people of all ages on the importance of staying hydrated for health and wellbeing. Being dehydrated increases the risk of anxiety and depression. Severe dehydration is life threatening and medical advice should be sought quickly.

    Look to avoid alcohol as this act as diuretic and cause the body to loose more water and increase the risk of dehydration. Ideally you should aim to drink 2 litres of water a day to avoid dehydration. If you are drinking more than this, feel thirsty or tired then you need to include the electrolyte in your drinks.

    Being dehydrated affects what you want to eat and you may notice you crave salty foods. Salty foods have too high a concentration of sodium (salt) and will add to you wanting to drink more water. Too much salt raises blood pressure, whilst being dehydrated for prolonged periods of time affects kidney function and can raise or lowers blood pressure and affects the hearts normal functioning. You may crave sweet foods as being dehydrated affects the liver releasing stored glucose (glycogen). Listen and take notice of what your body is telling you in the heat or if you have been unwell. Your body is very clever at giving you signals to try and find the correct balance internally. It is important to be mindful of pausing and checking how you feel, take notice of how much you have had to drink and whether you need to modify your fluid intake to improve your wellbeing.

    Take care of yourself and your loved ones and look out for the signs of dehydration and look to restore the water balance, remembering you may need more than just water!

    Mindful nutrition

    There are many variables in our day that affect how we feel, think, focus and behave. We can’t control other people, events at work and at home that all affect how we react, how anxious we feel, our mood, energy levels and focus. What we can control is what we choose to eat and drink. They play a huge part in our mental wellbeing and physical wellbeing helping reduce anxiety, depression, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and some cancers.

    What we eat has a big impact on our mood, anxiety levels, health, waist line and weight! If we choose foods high in sugar, white and refined carbohydrates then we may notice that we have moments of great energy and focus, we feel happy, but we may also notice that through the day we snap, have low mood and feel less focused. We may then choose to reach again for these foods but breaking this cycle may help you balance your blood sugar levels, stop the highs and lows of mood and energy. Eating natural foods low in sugar help release energy (glucose) slowly so that we notice stable energy levels, a stable mood, less anxiety and in the long term a smaller waistline and healthy weight.

    When we eat has a big impact on our blood sugar levels, mood and our digestion. If we miss meals our blood sugar levels drop, we may then reach for the high sugar foods, we may notice we can’t focus and concentrate. The act of not eating also affects the blood supply to our digestive system. When we eat it stimulates the part of the nervous system responsible for rest and digestion. Eating every 4-6 hours helps maintain energy, mood, digestion and a healthy waistline.

    How much caffeine we drink can have a big impact on noticing a racing heart, difficulty relaxing, and consequently may be interpreted by the body as anxiety. Ensuring we moderate our caffeine intake after lunch may help regulate our energy and sleep. Ensuring we drink water regularly through the daytime is vital for energy, cognitive function and wellbeing. Being dehydrated is associated with higher levels of anxiety.

    Why we eat is really important! We may mistake dehydration for hunger, we may not recognise when we are truly hungry. We may be eating out of habit, not consciously engaged in what and why we are eating. We may be in a habit of eating when we are bored, stressed and feel emotional and these may significantly impact our food choices. Mindful eating is about being kind to yourself, not judging yourself but recognising patterns of eating and being aware that if you choose to you can change them.

    Connecting to our senses helps us to come out of automatic pilot and connect with the foods we are eating. noticing a rainbow of brightly coloured fruits and vegetables, seeing red, yellow, orange, purple and green in your day really does help increase vitamin and mineral intake. These are important for brain function, mood, anxiety and memory. Noticing the taste, texture and aroma of foods all helps you connect to what you are eating in that moment. When we are mindful as we eat we may eat less, enjoy our food more and make different choices about what we choose to eat.

    It only takes a few seconds to connect your mind to the present, to be fully aware of what you are eating a drinking. Focusing on this for a few minutes may help you increase your understanding of what, when why and how much you eat, helping to manage both physical and mental wellbeing longterm.

    Your centre of strength

    The muscles that support the abdomen and pelvis are known as your core stability muscles. They comprise of of 5 deep abdominal, waist and lower back muscles that help to stabilise the spine and pelvis to reduce the risk of back pain long term.

    Pilates, Yoga and tai chi are mindful forms of exercise focusing your attention on your breath as you move. Pilates main focus is to develop core strength alongside improving spinal mobility.

    Being mindful of your body makes you more aware of what muscles you are using each day. You have to consciously engage your core muscles they don’t automatically work! Being mindful of engaging your core when you sit, lift heavy items (and children), exercise and move may all help improve upright posture and reduce back pain.

    How do I engage my core?

    • place your hands on your lower abdomen, just below your belly button like a fan shape with your fingers touching in the centre
    • imagine you are doing up a zip or belt and visualise your hip bones being drawn together even though physically they won’t move
    • as you do this you will feel your belly button start to move towards your spine
    • you should aim to tighten your internal belt/zip a third of the way (30% contraction)
    • It is important you breathe. To maintain the connection to your core breathing wide into your rib cage (lateral thoracic breathing)
    • aim to hold the connection whilst breathing for 10 seconds repeating 10 times building up over the weeks until you can hold for 30 seconds

    Pilates based exercises help challenge core engagement, reducing waist size, improving your posture and reducing back pain long term. Pilates is great for beginners and people looking for a gentle way to exercise.

    You can now join me on Facebook for Pilates classes- search 5minutes2wellness.com and join the group!

    Why do we do something?

    This could apply to anything we do in life from what shower gel we choose, when we brush our teeth, whether we choose to exercise, what we choose to eat and drink. It could be our work and hobbies and if we choose to include mindfulness and meditation into our daily routine. Why? What is our intention? We may never have really sat back and thought about it, as life quickly moves past, things just become part of daily routine, we are not really consciously aware we just get on and do things.

    Mindfulness can really help us identify what are intention is and in doing so this may significantly impact our choices during each day and even bigger life choices.

    When we understand why we are doing something we may then start to realise the benefits or negative affect those activities can bring. We all know that if we don’t brush our teeth this can cause teeth decay and costly and painful visits to the dentist. Therefore from an early age we get into a routine/habit of brushing our teeth and could easily do this whilst doing other things.

    Mindfulness can help us become more consciously aware of our food choices. Why do choose what we eat during the day? Do we eat when we are hungry? Do we take time to notice the colour, smell, texture and taste of our foods. When we eat mindfully we may be more inclined to choose foods higher in nutrient content, eat smaller portions and eat for hunger rather than boredom and emotions.

    Why would we choose 5 or minutes out of our day to focus on being peaceful and meditate? Once you have chosen to meditate and feel a sense of calm and peace in the mind it is easy to see what the purpose is, yet so many people choose not to even try. If you notice you feel angry, irritated, overwhelmed, anxious, low in mood what do you currently do to help yourself? There are many ways to manage these feelings, mindfulness and meditation is free and takes a few minutes a day. So many people I have taught both in corporate and home environments have found that even just 5-10 minutes makes a difference to how they feel. If your intention is to feel calm, happy in and manage optimal wellbeing then is mindfulness part of your daily routine?

    Mindfulness may also help with our work and sense of purpose in life. Without a feeling of purpose this can significantly affect our mental wellbeing. My intention and purpose has always been to help people and this is reflected in the different roles I hold now and have done in the past. To me, kindness and compassion are the greatest gifts we own. Mindfulness helps increase our sense of compassion to ourselves and to others by strengthening the part of the brain (the insula). Whatever your intention is for work or home life staying true to what is most important to you means there is less internal conflict that may affect mental wellbeing. Being mindful of where and how you work an also affect our wellbeing. Mindfulness allows us to pause, notice the present, our environment around us and see what is happening in that moment. For me seeing nature, seeing people smile, helping people feel comfortable in a medical environment and helping people be active mean that the different roles i choose to do allow me to feel fulfilled. Take time to notice what you do, is it with intention and aligned to what you want to achieve whether this is through your work or personal life?

    If we take the time to step back and notice our intentions we may realise actually we need to make some changes in our life. Change can be good or bad it is how we view and respond to the challenge of change. Mindfulness can allow us to let go of resistance to change and feel more comfortable with accepting new ideas, new directions of growth. To evolve and grow we may need to change direction, branch out into something new and unknown. But if that is what needs to be done and is done with the right intention this may open up a whole new world of inspiration, clarity, peace and contentment in what is only one life.

    Nature and the environment

    This week is mental health awareness week, with the focus on nature and the environment. Mindfulness can really help us become more aware of the huge benefits being in and around nature can improve our physical and mental wellbeing. Mindfulness can also make us aware of our own immediate environment and how this may be affecting how we feel, react, relax and focus when working and living a busy life.

    Our immediate environment may not be something we may have taken the time to pause and notice. When we are busy rushing around in automatic pilot we may not notice the little things in our room that may have a positive or negative affect on the way we feel and work. Being in a cluttered environment really can affect how we concentrate. Bringing nature to our immediate environment through pictures, patterns on cushions, flowers, house plants all help use to see our environment in a different way. If we have access to a window taking a micro break to look outside, to see the trees, flowers or look up and see the sky and clouds.

    Bringing natural scents into our environment can all help subtly change our immediate environment to a place of calm or help uplift a low mood. using hand creams, essential oils, diffusers with Lavender or lemon really can help bring your attention to the present.

    Noticing what we hear in our environment can also affect our concentration and stress levels. We are all unique with some of us wanting silence and others working better with noise. Taking the time to hear nature, to hear the birds, the rain, the wind just for a few minutes helps us come out of doing mode and into being present.

    Taking time to notice what we are wearing the feel of natural fibres like cotton, wool or metal in jewellery all help the mind to focus on being and letting go of busy doing thoughts.

    When we have the opportunity to be outside taking the time to be mindful in nature can have a powerful affect on calming the mind, easing anxiety and lifting our mood. How many times have you gone for a walk and thought about a million different things? Taking the time when you step outside to connect to your senses, notice the blossom, trees, birds, butterflies, clouds and sky. Listen to the sound of nature through bird song even when close to noisy traffic! Notice what your body feel like when you move outside, feel your feet connect to the ground beneath you.

    Nature offers amazing daily gifts, being mindful allows us to notice them, appreciate and feel grateful for them and in doing so boosts our physical and mental wellbeing.

    Self-reflection

    How often do you find yourself spinning multiple plates in life? Juggling home life, work, family, friends, health issues, getting enough sleep and exercise and paying the bills can feel like an endless to do list that 24 hours just is never enough time! Constantly trying to do everything you can to keep everything and everyone in your immediate family going can drain your physical and emotional energy. So how do we keep our energy and resilience topped up so that our busy lives don’t affect our mental and physical wellbeing?

    Mindfulness meditation is a great way to find stillness in a frantic day. Just a few minutes taking time out to press pause, focus on you, being in the moment with the all the plates on freeze is so important. If we can master the art of pausing, taking in the peace and stillness then we may find our energy levels topped up for the rest of the day.

    If we are able to spend time reflecting on why we are doing all the things we do, how we ensure we don’t burn out and how we take care of ourselves we may also find that on reflection we may be using energy we didn’t need to. Understanding what is important to us can easily get mixed up when bills, family and health issues take over. Our true self and what we want to achieve in life may get lost. We may not pursue those ideas and goals and working away from our true self may drain us. Learning to say no, for many is very hard, especially if you are someone like me who wants to help as many people as you can.

    How do you find solitude and peace? Mindfulness and meditation can help the mind quickly switch from doing to being and with practise even the most frantic of days can have calm still moments.

    Using a journal to reflect on your achievements, thoughts, and how you apply self care each day may help enhance your personal and professional growth. Self reflection can help us recognise our strengths and unique gifts. It can help us self regulate our emotions by taking the time to reflect on how we react when under pressure and whilst all our plates are spinning. Most importantly when we reflect allowing yourself to be non judgmental, not to criticise or judge yourself, but to evaluate and take notice of how to lead a resilient and peaceful life in an ever changing world.

    Loving you!

    Mindfulness has also be termed ‘ kindfulness’ as it helps us become more self – aware of how we treat ourselves and others.

    Our internal voice can be very self critical, reminding us of what we don’t like about ourselves, what we haven’t done or achieved and this eats away at our confidence, self-belief and self-worth. Practising mindfulness makes us more self -aware of our internal voice and if we choose to, to focus on the things we do like about ourselves, what we have achieved and what we feel happy and grateful for in our lives. When we do this we become kinder to ourselves, we learn to love who we really are rather than what we think other people want us to be. Mindfulness helps us to reduce our judgements about ourselves and become more aware of noticing the present in a non- judgemental way.

    When we love ourselves a bit more when may then find we judge other people less, and find we feel more kindness, love and compassion to friends, family, work colleagues and strangers. If we wish everyone we meet love, happiness and kindness each day we reduce judgement, bitterness, anger and irritation all emotions that cause us to feel stressed, anxious and unhappy. Having positive emotions each day such as feeling love, kindness and compassion actually helps our bodies lower our internal stress response (fight or flight). Positive emotions towards our selves and others helps to lower our heart rate, blood pressure, reduce stress hormones adrenalin and cortisol and helps our body release immune boosting hormones DHEA.

    Whilst Valentines day may be seen by some as a commercial enterprise it also gives us all a nudge to remember to be kind and loving to everyone as we would wish they were to us.

    We can’t change the world but we can change how we react to it : Part 4

    Being mindful after a busy day to help you sleep!

    How do you wind down after a busy day? Many of us use technology to soothe our over thinking minds. The stimulus of the lights in technology and what we are looking at and reading may affect our mood, energy levels and sleep. We may disconnect with how we feel through using technology. Then when faced with the silence and darkness of bed time notice our minds race with busy doing thoughts, fearful thoughts and we struggle to sleep.

    Building time later in the evening to focus on either formal or informal mindfulness techniques may help as part of a healthy sleep hygiene routine. A sleep hygiene routine is basically what you do in your evening routine to help prepare your mind and body for bed. We may not have thought we do anything specifically, but taking time to wind down, lower the lights, reduce technology at least an hour before bed, go to bed at the same time and wake up at the same time are all part of this routine. Mindfulness could again be added to evening activities such as cooking, reading, colouring, house work, taking a bath and listening or playing music. Being fully present and engaged in what you are doing. Noticing if your mind wanders off and bringing your attention back to the present.

    Taking time to focus on specific mindfulness exercises such as the body scan or visualisation exercises may all help promote and change in brain wave active. Meditation and mindfulness helps slow down the alarm bell.

    Taking the time to write down what you feel grateful for and have noticed in your day also helps train our brains to focus on positive thoughts and feelings and stimulates the prefrontal cortex. When we rush round in automatic pilot we may not notice all the little things that bring joy, make us smile, make us go wow! Taking time through your day to notice those moments and to acknowledge what you feel grateful for has been evidenced to improve our mood and mental wellbeing. Whether you use a small note pad or piece of paper on the fridge. Write down 3-5 things each day you noticed, felt or heard that made you smile, made you feel thankful. Noticing the stars if they are out, taking time to open the curtains and look up, or noticing the rain drops on the leaves, the sun rays through the window all these small beautiful things can really help you feel differently, build your resilience and support your physical and mental wellbeing.

    We can’t change the world but we can change how we react to it : Part 3

    Mindful nutrition

    Do you notice what your food really tastes like, see the colours on your plate, feel the warmth of your cup when you drink a coffee or feel the cool temperature of what you drink? For most of us we are just to busy, eating is part of our daily function to keep us going with all the things we need to do. We often eat in automatic pilot, not really consciously aware of what we are eating, why, what it tasted like, how full we feel. We might eat out of habit, boredom or to soothe our emotions when we feel stressed and anxious rather than hunger affecting our weight and waist size.

    Taking the time when you eat is really important to help us be present. Use your senses to notice the colours, take time to notice the taste, aroma and texture. Just for a few minutes, it may transform what you eat, when you eat and why you eat!

    What we drink also affect our mood, energy levels, sleep and waistline. Being dehydrated increases anxiety levels. Simply being mindful of sipping a glass of water and noticing how much water you have had each day (ideally 8 glasses) may help improve mood and energy levels. How much caffeine do you drink? A tea or coffee in the morning helps us to get going. But too much caffeine and drinking caffeine after mid day keeps our body in a state of high alert, adding to the already high circulating levels of Cortisol, which affects our energy, sleep and mood.

    Over time and with daily practise just these little changes can make a difference to your brain. You are training your brain it is ok not to always think about doing things, it is ok to be in the moment, to be fully present. If you do this without judgement acknowledging when your mind wanders that, that’s OK too but focusing back to your senses the neural pathways in the brain begin to change. The part of the brain (pre frontal cortex) that deals with ration logical thinking becomes more active. When this part of the brain is active we are generally in a brighter mood. The pathway to the brains internal alarm bell (amygdala) that fires up every time we feel anxious, overwhelmed and fearful becomes weakened. We start to feel lees reactive to situations, events, people that may have affected our mood. In turn we feel and behave in a calmer way, feeling less anxious, less overwhelmed but still with everything around us staying the same! We can’t change the world but we can change we react to it. If we change our reactions we become more resilient, things affect us less, we can sleep better, feel motivated to eat healthily and exercise regularly and feel both mentally and physically well.

    We can’t change the world but we can change how we react to it : Part 2

    Building mindfulness into your day!

    We are all so busy rushing round in automatic pilot doing all the things we need to do. We may feel during the daytime we have no time to be mindful, to be present, to be calm. We have got used to feeling overwhelmed, busy, anxious and fearful and now that feels like part of everyday life!

    But feeling overwhelmed and anxious, feeling fearful quickly drains our emotional and physical energy. Our internal alarm bell is on constant ring mode, pumping our bodies full of the stress hormone Cortisol, keeping our heart rate and blood pressure elevated, reducing our digestive function, increasing muscle tension. Our bodies aren’t designed to always be in a state of alert and danger. Overtime high levels of Cortisol cause physical fatigue. We may suffer prolonged high blood pressure, digestive problems like IBS, weight gain and and increased waist size as a consequence. Emotionally we may feel drained, unable to concentrate, sleep, communicate well, low in mood, irritable and snappy.

    Whilst our world may not change soon we can change how we react to our day. taking time to build mindfulness in whether as a micro break mid morning or mid afternoon, or taking a break inside or outside at lunchtime. A micro break is 1-3 minutes where you pause, bring your attention either to your breath or music or your sense of smell. If you choose a song, chose one that is calming that doesn’t evoke any strong emotions or memories but allows you to focus on the sounds for those few minutes. maybe you connect to a scent, using a scented candle, essential oil in a burner or on a tissue and focus on that smell for a few minutes. Being mindful of the brain wandering off, not judging, just acknowledging what the thoughts are and bringing your attention to the present. If you have the time to build in a walk outside time time to notice the sounds, feel the air on your skin, notice all the different colours you see. If you have longer in your day adding Pilates or Yoga helps to focus and be present whilst moving.

    Over time and with daily practise just these little changes can make a difference to your brain. You are training your brain it is ok not to always think about doing things, it is ok to be in the moment, to be fully present. If you do this without judgement acknowledging when your mind wanders that, that’s OK too but focusing back to your senses the neural pathways in the brain begin to change. The part of the brain (pre frontal cortex) that deals with ration logical thinking becomes more active. When this part of the brain is active we are generally in a brighter mood. The pathway to the brains internal alarm bell (amygdala) that fires up every time we feel anxious, overwhelmed and fearful becomes weakened. We start to feel lees reactive to situations, events, people that may have affected our mood. In turn we feel and behave in a calmer way, feeling less anxious, less overwhelmed but still with everything around us staying the same!

    We can’t change the world but we can change we react to it. If we change our reactions we become more resilient, things affect us less, we can sleep better, feel motivated to eat healthily and exercise regularly and feel both mentally and physically well.

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