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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

Having experienced her own extreme transformation process, Jolie strongly believes that staying healthy takes determined and consistent action.

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

Boundaries are limits

—they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

1. Self-Awareness Comes First

Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

  • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
  • When do you feel disrespected?
  • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
  • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
  • When do you want to be alone?
  • How much space do you need?

You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

2. Clear Communication Is Essential

Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

Sample language:

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  • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
  • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
  • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
  • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
  • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
  • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
  • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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Final Thoughts

Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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