Unlike in the times of the ancient mariner, gone are the days in western civilisation where there is a significant shortage of water for a long period of time. However, in our modern and busy society we still seem to struggle with the idea of staying hydrated.
But just how important is staying hydrated when it comes to workplace performance?
When we think of a dehydrated person, we would imagine someone walking through the desert desperately in search of an oasis. They would be extremely thirsty looking fatigued and maybe having a headache. However, research shows us that just a 2% loss in body weight of water leads to a decline in cognition. So, for example if you weighed 60 kg and over a period of a week you were short of 1 litre of water you could show signs of poor thinking, poor decision-making and lack of concentration. All the necessary qualities that we would want to be working at our best.
So, what are the signs that we are getting dehydrated?
The simplest one and most obvious is that we will probably be getting thirsty - however the solution for this on many occasions is to go to the nearest espresso machine and grab yourself another shot of coffee. As coffee is such a good stimulant this could help us with our concentration but at the same time the coffee has probably not helped us with our dehydration problem. We also could notice headache, feelings of tiredness and that we haven’t been needing the toilet as often. If this is happening to you, it’s time to drink some water.
There are many ideas about quantity of water that we should all be having but, one thing is for certain, if you are showing signs of dehydration you’re definitely not going to be working at your best. The common thinking is that we should each be having between 6 to 8 glasses of water a day which is roughly 2 to 2 1/2 litres.
There are numerous things we can do to make sure we drink more. Our top tips for staying hydrated:
1. Set yourself a drink reminder. This could be a simple post-it note or a little alarm on your phone.
2. Every time you get up to go to the toilet, have a drink of water. This helps maintain our fluid balance.
3. Get yourself a designated water bottle that’s 1 L in size and make sure that you have finished it by lunchtime, then refill it and make sure you have finished the second one by the time you leave at the end of the day.
4. If you don’t like the taste of water then don’t be afraid to be creative. You can add lemon, or other fruits or herbs which can make the water taste better.
5. Don’t be tempted to have large amounts of fruit juice. Fruit juice is very highly calorific as it’s full of sugar. The immediate sugar spike will wear off quite quickly and leave you feeling more tired and in search of your next sugar fix.
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