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Published on October 27, 2017

Why It’s Important To Drink More Water At Work

Why It’s Important To Drink More Water At Work

It’s no surprise that we spend the majority of our waking lives at work. The average person will spend around 90,000 hours at their workplace in their lifetime. When it comes to our health, it isn’t always our main priority especially at work, while we’re sitting at our computers or moving from meeting to meeting. Getting through our daily workload will always be at the forefront of our mind.

In Japan, where people work the longest hours – on average 60-70 hours a week – around 10,000 people drop dead at their desks a year, a phenomenon known as “karoshi”.[1] This only highlights the need to look after our health, and one of the most common health issues at the work place is dehydration.

It’s incredibly easy to avoid drinking enough water when we’re focused on getting work done or too busy to grab a glass of water. Many of us turn to tea or coffee to stay alert during the day. Yet this is counteractive due to their diuretic effects – in other words, they increase urination and therefore expel fluid more easily leading to dehydration. Sitting too far from the office water fountain or kitchen can also mean less likelihood of hydrating adequately.

Dehydration: The Silent Killer

When it comes to our health we all know we should drink an adequate amount each day. After all, 60 percent of the body is made up of water and the human brain is composed of 75 percent water.

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But the main problem with dehydration is you don’t always feel the effects so obviously as you do with other health issues such as a bad back from sitting down too long or tired eyes from staring at a computer screen.

Hydrating regularly lubricates our joints and eyes, keeps our skin healthy, allows optimum digestion, eliminates toxins and optimises the energy produced through our cells. Besides reducing concentration, not hydrating properly can create an imbalance of salts and sugars in the body which can quickly lead to other health problems.

In other words, if you feel a headache coming on or feel slightly weak, don’t reach for a mid-morning snack. The best thing to do is grab that glass of water first.

How Dehydration Affects Productivity

We’re not always aware of the benefits of drinking enough water and how it impacts our health and work life. As a result, we often neglect to drink more water even if we know we haven’t always drunk enough during the day.

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A report showed that up to 75 percent of Americans don’t drink the recommended 10 cups of water a day issued by the Institute of Medicine. This means most people are walking around mildly to severely dehydrated without even realising.

When we get health issues such as severe tiredness, headaches, weight gain, high blood pressure or kidney complications, our first thought isn’t that we’re not drinking enough water. When it comes to our work, it can have wide-reaching implications – when we go home due to that incessant headache or we struggle with concentrating, our colleagues and departments indirectly suffer too.

A recent survey translated this to a $2.5 billion loss in productivity each year as a result of people taking time off work due to chronic illness – many of which could be put down to simple dehydration. A further study looking at forest workers found a significant reduction in productivity in those who were in a state of dehydration.[2]

What are the Signs of Dehydration?

We don’t always realise how much fluid we lose throughout the day and how important it is to rehydrate. Sweating, visiting the bathroom and even respiration uses up vital fluids in our body. Put that with any vomiting, diarrhea, alcohol consumption or excessive exercise and our water stores can become empty extremely quickly.

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There are several signs of mild to moderate dehydration which include: dry mouth, tiredness, less need to urinate, headaches, fogginess in the head and lack of concentration.

Severe dehydration could include symptoms such as: irritability, confusion, extreme thirst, quickened heartbeat, rapid breathing and either no urination or urine that’s dark in colour.

How Employers Can Avoid Dehydration in the Work Place

The awareness of the possible devastating effects of dehydration is paramount in our daily lives and no more so than at work. There are some effective ways to encourage ourselves and our workforce to keep water intake topped up.

Setting Up a Workplace Hydration Programme

Encouraging our employees and colleagues to keep hydrated is a key way to keep hydration to the maximum. Offices and other places of work can implement a system to do this in a clear and effective way.

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  1. Provide employees with easily-accessible water. This could come in the form of providing bottled water, creating water stations throughout the work space and providing regular fresh water to water coolers. These encourage people to think more about hydrating especially if there are viable and fresh options.
  2. Educate people. While most people are aware they need to drink water, it’s easy to dismiss the implications of not doing so. Placing educational materials such as posters around the workplace showing the importance of keeping hydrated as well as how dehydration has a negative effect on health will keep people more aware and motivated to get that glass of water.
  3. Appoint a Hydration Action Committee. Having accountability is really important when it comes to implementing a system and motivating people to drink more water. Create a committee to ensure water supplies are adequate and find fun and innovative ways to keep people hydrated.
  4. Liven up plain water. One of the main reasons people struggle to drink more water is that it’s just too boring in taste. As a result many reach for sodas and energy drinks thinking they’re topping up their fluids effectively. There are several ways of livening up water such as making ice cubes out of 100% fruit juice and adding them to water (reducing the amount of sugar), keep wedges of fruit for people to add to their glass of water or supplying large pitchers of water containing fruits such as cucumber, orange, lemon or melon to have infused water at hand. Outside workers can be supplied with bottled water. This way employees are happy and hydrated while employers have more productive staff on their hands.
  5. Get rid of sports drinks and sodas. As mentioned before, many people opt for fizzy drinks such as sports/energy drinks or sodas. By getting rid of these in an office setting, it will encourage people to quench their thirst in a more positive and healthy way. Sugar-laden drinks will only serve to cause more problems with weight gain, sugar crashes and headaches.

How Employees Can Make Sure They Hydrate Well

Drinking enough water is all about establishing a habit until it becomes second nature. There are several things you can do to help you in your daily water-drinking routine.

  1. Use a hydration monitoring app. There are tonnes of free apps out there that remind you to drink such as Daily Water, Waterlogged or iDrated. They also let you add what you’ve drunk throughout the day letting you see when you’ve drunk your recommended amount.
  2. Always carry a water bottle. Having water always on our person will act as a constant reminder to drink. If you’re rushing from meeting to meeting then having a bottle with you will counteract the excuse of being to busy to hydrate.
  3. Eat more water-contained foods. Fruit such as melons, apples and oranges will boost your water intake so try to opt for these as a snack. When eating your lunch always make sure you have a glass of water with you instead of your usual tea, coffee or soda.
  4. Set yourself a challenge. Fill a large 2L jug with water, place it near or on your desk and challenge yourself to finish it by the time you leave to go home. Having a constant reminder in front of you will motivate you to get that water intake up.
  5. Reduce your coffee and tea intake. It’s very easy to create a habit of getting that morning coffee and continuing the habit throughout the day. It’s important to stay alert but in reality, water can more than do this for us. Make an intention to cut down the number of teas and coffees you consume throughout the course of your day and replace it with water.

Always remember the benefits drinking enough water brings to your working life. These include increasing energy, concentration and relieving tiredness, promoting weight loss with a healthy diet, flushing out unwanted toxins in the body, improving skin complexion, maintaining regular digestion, boosting your immune system, reducing headaches, preventing muscle cramps and sprains and, most importantly, puts you in a great mood. When your body is functioning at its optimum you will feel great and perform better!

Featured photo credit: Burst via pexels.com

Reference

[1]Business Insider: 15 Seriously Disturbing Facts About Your Job
[2]Industrial Safety & Hygiene News: Avoid dehydration in the work place

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Jolie Choi

Gone through a few heartbreaks and lost hundreds of friends but I am still happy with my life.

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How to Keep Yourself Awake at Work Without Caffeine

How to Keep Yourself Awake at Work Without Caffeine

Keeping yourself awake at work can be a real challenge when you’re bored, exhausted or sleep-deprived.

But before you reach for that can of Red Bull, bottle of Mountain Dew, or pot of coffee, try these healthy remedies to stimulate your 5 different senses and help you stay awake at work:

Sight – Visual Stimulation

The first thing you do when you wake up is opening your eyes, so your visual stimulation is very important to keeping your energy level high.

1. Maximize your exposure to light.

Your body’s internal rhythm is regulated by the amount of light you receive. The greater your exposure, the more alert you will feel.

Open the shades and let in the sunlight. Step outside or look out the window. Turn on all the artificial lights in your office or around your work space.

2. Exercise your eyes (or give them a break).

Roll your eyes up and down, side to side and diagonally. Rotate them clockwise and then counterclockwise. Squeeze them shut and then open them wide. Do this several times.

Reading and sitting in front of a computer screen for long periods can lead to eye fatigue.

Take regular breaks with deliberate blinking and looking out into the distance.

3. Take note of your environment.

Learn to enjoy people-watching. Observe their activities, speech, body language and interactions with others. Notice the details of building, trees and other objects around you, including their color, shape and size.

By doing this, you’re not only relaxing your eye muscles but also calming your mind.

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Hearing – Auditory Stimulation

What you hear or listen to have direct effect on your brain. This is why we feel so annoyed and sometimes angry when we hear construction noise when we’re working.

4. Engage in conversation.

Talk to a friend or colleague. Trade funny stories. Discuss your business venture, a creative idea, the latest political scandal, or any other topic that interests you.

Practice mindful listening to what you and the other person are saying. Tune into the tone, volume and content of the conversation.

Learn how to practice better listening from this guide:

Why Listen to Reply Instead of Understand Is the Key to Failure

5. Listen to upbeat music.

Try hip hop, rock or jazz to keep you alert. Instrumental, non-distracting music works best.

Sing, whistle, and hum along if you can. Plug in the earphones if you must.

Smell – Olfactory Stimulation

If you’re feeling sleepy and suddenly smell the coffee, you’ll probably feel more energetic. This is why smell is an influential stimulation.

6. Work your nose.

Aroma therapists recommend essential oils of peppermint (to boost energy), rosemary (to build awareness), eucalyptus (to increase oxygen), cedarwood  (to activate your mind), and cinnamon (to improve your reaction time).

If you don’t have essential oils on hand, you can use lotions or burning candles that provide the same scents.

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Citrus like lemons, limes, grapefruits and oranges are also natural olfactory stimulants. Get a whiff of these citrus scents to stay awake.

Taste – Gustatory Stimulation

If you want an energetic day at work, you can’t let your tongue feeling plain and flavorless.

7. Have a good breakfast.

Start off with the most important meal of the day.

Think fresh, light and healthy: bran cereals, wholegrain breads, fruits, and yogurt.

Nix the heavy stuff like sausages, greasy eggs or pancakes.

Need some breakfasts inspirations? Check out these ideas:

20 Healthy Breakfast Choices That Will Save You Time

8. Drink lots of water.

Keep a glass or bottle of H2O near you and sip from it throughout the day. Dehydration can leave you feeling tired, sluggish and sleepy.

So make sure you drink enough water throughout the day. Not sure how much to drink? This can help you:

How Much Water Should You Drink Each Day (and How Much Is Too Much for You)

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Think that you’ve been drinking too little water? Try these friendly reminders:

3 Best Apps To Help You Drink Much More Water

9. Eat energy-boosting snacks.

Nuts and fruits (like bananas, apples and strawberries) are sure bets. Pairings with staying power include baby carrots with a low-fat cream cheese dip; celery sticks with peanut butter; red peppers with hummus; and plain yogurt with granola.

Avoid carb-filled, sugary snacks that make you crash and leave you feeling tired.

Here you can find some healthy snack ideas:

25 Healthy Snack Recipes To Make Your Workday More Productive

Touch – Tactile Stimulation

Last but not least, your sense of touch will make you physically feel more energetic and less stressful.

10. Splash cold water on your face.

Do this in the morning, during bathroom breaks and in the afternoon. Being exposed to cold water pushes your body to adjust and regulate its internal temperature, which in turn keeps you alert.

This works the same as you take a cold shower to increase mood and alertness. Take a look at this article to learn more about it:

5 Surprising Benefits of Cold Showers

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11. Use acupressure.

Apply pressure to, massage, or tap on the stimulation points of your body. These include the top of your head, the back of your neck, the back of your hand (between the thumb and index finger), just below the knee and your earlobes.

Watch this video to learn about the acupressure points you can try:

12. Get moving.

Move away from your chair and stand, walk, run or climb the stairs. Feel the earth under your feet. Stretch and twist. Do jumping jacks, lunges, push-ups and back bends.

And if you need to move more discreetly, wiggle your feet, bounce your knee up and down, scrunch your toes, or cross your legs.

You can also try some simple stretches and exercises at your desk:

Unlike addictive caffeine fixes, these remedies activate your senses, engage your attention, amp up your energy and prevent morning grogginess and afternoon slumps without the side effects or health risks.

Pick a few ways from this list of suggestions and practice them consistently. And when you do this consistently, you’ll soon see the positive results — a more energetic and productive you at work.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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