Advertising
Advertising

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.

Advertising

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.

Advertising

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.

Advertising

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.

Advertising

  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

More by this author

Jolie Choi

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

11 Health Benefits of Cucumber Water (+3 Refreshing Drink Recipes) Put Down Your Pizza and Find Your Healthy Diet Challenge Buddy By Using “Foodstand” Ditch Your Banana and Kale! Use “The Blender Girl” To Find Your Fun and Tasty Smoothie Recipes If You Exercise but Sit a Lot, You’re Still Unhealthy Walk While You Work, You’ll Be 10X Healthier

Trending in Health

1 Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It 2 The Leading Causes of Prenatal Depression and How to Manage it Best 3 10 Benefits of Sleeping Naked You Probably Didn’t Know 4 What Causes Brain Fog? (7 Things You Can Do to Prevent and Stop It) 5 13 Brain Healthy Foods That Keep Your Brain Sharp Naturally

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising

Published on November 14, 2018

Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

With our busy, always on lives, it seems that more and more of us are facing constant tiredness and fatigue on a regular basis.

For many people, they just take this in their stride as part of modern life, but for others the impact can be crippling and can have a serious effect on their sense of wellbeing, health and productivity.

In this article, I’ll share some of the most common causes of constant tiredness and fatigue and give you some guidance and action steps you can take to overcome some of the symptoms of fatigue.

Why Am I Feeling Fatigued?

Fatigue is extreme tiredness resulting from mental or physical exertion or illness.  It is a reduction in the efficiency of a muscle or organ after prolonged activity.[1]

It can affect anyone, and most adults will experience fatigue at some point in their life. 

For many people, fatigue is caused by a combination of lifestyle, social, psychological and general wellbeing issues rather than an underlying medical condition.

Although fatigue is sometimes described as tiredness, it is different to just feeling tired or sleepy. Everyone feels tired at some point, but this is usually resolved with a nap or a few nights of good sleep. Someone who is sleepy may also feel temporarily refreshed after exercising. If you are getting enough sleep, good nutrition and exercising regularly but still find it hard to perform, concentrate or be motivated at your normal levels, you may be experiencing a level of fatigue that needs further investigation. 

Symptoms of Fatigue

Fatigue can cause a vast range of physical, mental and emotional symptoms including:

  • chronic tiredness, exhaustion or sleepiness
  • mental blocks
  • lack of motivation
  • headache
  • dizziness
  • muscle weakness
  • slowed reflexes and responses
  • impaired decision-making and judgement
  • moodiness, such as irritability
  • impaired hand-to-eye coordination
  • reduced immune system function
  • blurry vision
  • short-term memory problems
  • poor concentration
  • reduced ability to pay attention to the situation at hand

Causes of Fatigue

The wide range of causes that can trigger fatigue include:

  • Medical causes: Constant exhaustion, tiredness and fatigue may be a sign of an underlying illness, such as a thyroid disorder, heart disease, anemia or diabetes.
  • Lifestyle-related causes: Being overweight and a lack of regular exercise can lead to feelings of fatigue.  Lack of sleep and overcommitting can also create feelings of excessive tiredness and fatigue.
  • Workplace-related causes: Workplace and financial stress in a variety of forms can lead to feelings of fatigue.
  • Emotional concerns and stress: Fatigue is a common symptom of mental health problems, such as depression and grief, and may be accompanied by other signs and symptoms, including irritability and lack of motivation.

Fatigue can also be caused by a number of factors working in combination.

Medical Causes of Fatigue

If you have made lifestyle changes to increase your energy and still feel exhausted and fatigued, it may be time to seek guidance from your doctor.

Here are a few examples of illnesses that can cause ongoing fatigue. Seek medical advice if you suspect you have a health problem:

Anemia

Anemia is a condition in which you don’t have enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to the body’s tissues. It is a common cause of fatigue in women.

Having anemia may make you feel tired and weak.

There are many forms of anemia, each with its own cause. Anemia can be temporary or long term, and it can range from mild to severe.[2]

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a condition that can cause persistent, unexplained fatigue that interferes with daily activities for more than six months.

Advertising

This is a chronic condition with no one-size-fits-all treatment, but lifestyle changes can often help ease some symptoms of fatigue.[3]

Diabetes

Diabetes can cause fatigue with either high or low blood sugars. When your sugars are high, they remain in the bloodstream instead of being used for energy, which makes you feel fatigued. Low blood sugar (glucose) means you may not have enough fuel for energy, also causing fatigue.[4]

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder where sufferers briefly stop breathing for short periods during sleep. Most people are not aware this is happening, but it can cause loud snoring, and daytime fatigue.

Being overweight, smoking, and drinking alcohol can all worsen the symptoms of sleep apnea.[5]

Thyroid disease

An underactive thyroid gland means you have too little thyroid hormone (thyroxine) in your body. This makes you feel tired and you could also put on weight and have aching muscles and dry skin.[6]

Common lifestyle factors that can cause fatigue include:

  • Lack of sleep
  • Too much sleep 
  • Alcohol and drugs 
  • Sleep disturbances 
  • Lack of regular exercise and sedentary behaviour 
  • Poor diet 

Common workplace issues that can cause fatigue include:

  • Shift work: Our body is designed to sleep during the night. A shift worker may confuse their circadian clock by working when their body is programmed to be asleep.
  • Poor workplace practices: This may include long work hours, hard physical labour, irregular working hours (such as rotating shifts), a stressful work environment, boredom or working alone. 
  • Workplace stress – This can be caused by a wide range of factors including job dissatisfaction, heavy workload, conflicts with bosses or colleagues, bullying, or threats to job security.
  • Burnout: This could be striving too hard on one area of your life while neglecting others, which leads to a life that feels out of balance.

Psychological Causes of Fatigue

Psychological factors are present in many cases of extreme tiredness and fatigue.  These may include:

  • Depression: Depression is characterised by severe and prolonged feelings of sadness, dejection and hopelessness. People who are depressed commonly experience chronic fatigue.
  • Anxiety and stress: Someone who is constantly anxious or stressed keeps their body in overdrive. The constant flooding of adrenaline exhausts the body, and fatigue sets in.
  • Grief: Losing a loved one causes a wide range of emotions including shock, guilt, depression, despair and loneliness.

How to Tackle Constant Fatigue

Here are 12 ways you can start tackling the causes of fatigue and start feeling more energetic.

1. Tell The Truth

Some people can numb themselves to the fact that they are overtired or fatigued all the time. In the long run, this won’t help you.

To give you the best chance to overcome or eliminate fatigue, you must diagnose and tell the truth about the things that are draining your energy, making you tired or causing constant fatigue.

Once you’re honest with yourself about the activities you’re doing in your life that you find irritating, energy-draining, and make you tired on a regular basis you can make a commitment to stop doing them.

The help that you need to overcome fatigue is available to you, but not until you tell the truth about it. The first person you have to sell on getting rid of the causes of fatigue is yourself.

One starting point is to diagnose the symptoms. When you start feeling stressed, overtired or just not operating at your normal energy levels make a note of:

  • How you feel
  • What time of day it is
  • What may have contributed to your fatigue
  • How your mind and body reacts

This analysis may help you identify, understand and then eliminate very specific causes.

2. Reduce Your Commitments

When we have too many things on our plate personally and professionally, we can feel overstretched, causing physical and mental fatigue.

Advertising

If you have committed to things you really don’t want to do, this causes irritability and low emotional engagement. Stack these up throughout your day and week, then your stress levels will rise.

When these commitments have deadlines associated with them, you may be trying to cram in far too much in a short period of time.  This creates more stress and can affect your decision making ability.

Start being realistic about how much you can get done. Either reduce the commitments you have or give yourself more time to complete them in.

3. Get Clear On Your Priorities

If working on your list of to-do’s or goals becomes too overwhelming, start reducing and prioritizing the things that matter most.

Start with prioritizing just 3 things every day. When you complete those 3 things, you’ll get a rush of energy and your confidence will grow.

If you’re trying to juggle too many things and are multi-tasking, your energy levels will drop and you’ll struggle to maintain focus.

Unfinished projects can make you self-critical and feel guilty which drops energy levels further, creating inaction.

Make a list of your 3 MIT (Most Important Tasks) for the next day before you go to bed. This will stop you overcommitting and get you excited about what the next day can bring.

4. Express More Gratitude

Gratitude and confidence are heavily linked. Just being thankful for what you have and what you’ve achieved increases confidence and makes you feel more optimistic.

It can help you improve your sense of wellbeing, which can bring on feelings of joy and enthusiasm.

Try starting a gratitude journal or just note down 3 things you’re grateful for every day.

5. Focus On Yourself

Exhaustion and fatigue can arrive by focusing solely on other people’s needs all the time, rather than worrying about and focusing on what you need (and want).

There are work commitments, family commitments, social commitments. You may start with the best intentions, to put in your best performance at work, to be an amazing parent and friend, to simply help others.

But sometimes, we extend ourselves too much and go beyond our personal limits to help others. That’s when constant exhaustion can creep up on us.  Which can make us more fatigued.

We all want to help and do our best for others, but there needs to be some balance. We also need to take some time out just for ourselves to recharge and rejuvenate.

6. Set Aside Rest and Recovery Time

Whether it’s a couple of hours, a day off, a mini-break or a proper holiday, time off is essential to help us recover, recharge and refocus.

Advertising

Recovery time helps fend off mental fatigue and allows us to simply kick back and relax.

The key here, though, is to remove ourselves from the daily challenges that bring on tiredness and fatigue. Here’s how.

Can you free yourself up completely from work and personal obligations to just rest and recover?

7. Take a Power Nap

When you’re feeling tired or fatigued and you have the ability to take a quick 20-minute nap, it could make a big difference to your performance for the rest of the day.

Napping can improve learning, memory and boost your energy levels quickly.

This article on the benefit of napping is a useful place to start if you want to learn more: How a 20-Minute Nap at Work Makes You Awake and Productive the Whole Day

8. Take More Exercise

The simple act of introducing some form of physical activity into your day can make a huge difference. It can boost energy levels, make you feel much better about yourself and can help you avoid fatigue.

Find something that fits into your life, be that walking, going to the gym, running or swimming. 

The key is to ensure the exercise is regular and that you are emotionally engaged and committed to stick with it.

You could also walk more which will help clear your head and shift your focus away from stressful thoughts.

9. Get More Quality Sleep

To avoid tiredness, exhaustion and fatigue, getting enough quality sleep matters. 

Your body needs sleep to recharge.  Getting the right amount of sleep every night can improve your health, reduce stress levels and help us improve our memory and learning skills.

My previous article on The Benefits of Sleep You Need to Know will give you some action steps to start improving your sleep. 

10. Improve Your Diet

Heavy or fatty meals can make you feel sluggish and tired, whilst some foods or eating strategies do just the opposite.

Our always on lives have us reaching for sweets or other sugary snacks to give us a burst of energy to keep going. Unfortunately, that boost fades quickly which can leave you feeling depleted and wanting more.

On the other hand, whole grains and healthy unsaturated fats supply the reserves you can draw on throughout the day.

Advertising

To keep energy up and steady, it’s a good idea to limit refined sugar and starches.

Eating small meals and healthy snacks every few hours throughout the day provides a steady supply of nutrients to body and brain. It’s also important not to skip breakfast.

Eating a balanced diet helps keep your blood sugar in a normal range and prevents that sluggish feeling when your blood sugar drops.

11. Manage Your Stress Levels

Stress is one of the leading causes of exhaustion and fatigue, and can seriously affect your health.

When you have increased levels of stress at work and at home, it’s easy to feel exhausted all the time. 

Identifying the causes of stress and then tackling the problems should be a priority. 

My article on How to Help Anxiety When Life is Stressing You Out shares 16 strategies you can use to overcome stress.

12. Get Hydrated

Sometimes we can be so busy that we forget to keep ourselves fully hydrated.

Water makes up about 60 percent of your body weight and is essential in maintaining our body’s basic functions.

If we don’t have enough water, it can adversely affect our mental and physical performance, which leads to tiredness and fatigue.

The recommended daily amount is around two litres a day, so to stay well hydrated keep a water bottle with you as much as possible.

The Bottom Line

These 12 tips can help you reduce your tiredness and feeling of fatigue.  Some will work better than others as we are all different, whilst others can be incorporated together in your daily life.

If you’ve tried to make positive changes to reduce fatigue and you still feel tired and exhausted, it may be time to consider making an appointment with your doctor to discuss your condition.

Featured photo credit: Annie Spratt via unsplash.com

Reference

[1]Oxford English Dictionary: Definition of fatigue
[2]NHS Choices: 10 Reasons for feeling tired
[3]Verywellhealth: What is chronic fatigue syndrome
[4]Everyday Health: Why does type 2 diabetes make you feel tired
[5]Mayo Clinic: Sleep apnea
[6]Harvard Health: The lowdown on thyroid slowdown

Read Next