Have we all seen this genius dinosaur meme by now? You know, the one that depicts the evolution of a mother’s mood from that of the affable “Rex” from Toy Story at 9 am to the murderous sharp-toothed beast from Jurassic Park by sundown? It’s relatable. More often than not, when I can feel myself turning into a monster mom, I need a way to boost my mood quickly and easily. How?
Sure, my kids are being jerks—but dehydration makes things 100% worse.
By now, you’ve probably heard that around 60% of the human body is made up of water. When you’re dehydrated—even a little bit—it can
slow your metabolism, slow cellular turnover, and make your skin dry. It can also make you feel hungry and even give you a headache.
But not getting enough water can also make you feel tired, making everything you need to get done more difficult. What’s worse, studies show that even mild dehydration can make you grouchy.
Hydration is trickier than we think. Being even mildly dehydrated can really mess with our mood AND, just as important, our motivation to do other things that support our mental well-being, like exercise. Dehydration can easily sneak up on us because we don’t tend to feel thirsty until our bodies are already experiencing suboptimal levels of hydration.
Researchers at the University of Connecticut studied the effects of mild hydration on mood, cognitive ability, and energy level. Here’s what they found.
Harris Lieberman, a research psychologist with the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine in Natick, Massachusets, co-authored this study. He said, “Even mild dehydration that can occur during ordinary daily activities can degrade how we are feeling – especially for women, who appear to be more susceptible to the adverse effects of low levels of dehydration than men.” He went on to say that “In both sexes, these adverse mood changes may limit the motivation required to engage in even moderate aerobic exercise. Mild dehydration may also interfere with other daily activities, even when there is no physical demand component present.”
Water is the foundation of a good mood. There’s no way around it – to experience joy to its fullest, we have to keep our bodies hydrated. The good news here is that most people only need around 64 ounces of water a day to avoid dehydration.
If you’re anything like me, there are two reasons you might not get enough water each day.
1 – You simply forget. It’s so easy to get caught up in taking care of the kids, running errands, and folding laundry that it slips my mind. But some free apps will remind you to fill your water cup, like Daily Water Tracker, Hydro Coach, or Plant Nanny.
2 – Water tastes boring. How is it that I can gleefully down two pints of beer over a good meal, but the thought of drinking 32oz of water doesn’t appeal to me?! If this is the case for you, add a splash of pure organic lemon or cranberry juice to your cup. You can usually find these pure juices in the same aisle as the juice blends and concentrates, but they’re in glass bottles.
You can also add cut-up fruit or sliced cucumbers, or even herbs like mint or rosemary. If I’m in a hurry, I opt for sparkling water for a little variety without adding many (or any) calories. My favorites are Spindrift, LaCroix, and Waterloo, which you can find at whatever grocery store you typically use.
P.S. Want more simple ways to boost your mood? Click here to check out our free self-care guide!