Water and Stress
It’s easy to buy into the latest potions and practices that claim to hold the secret to stress-free living. However, in so doing, we overlook the simple stress busting substance of water. Without having to break the bank or take up tree hugging, you’ll be able to look forward to a 2014 that is notably less stressful by investing in water in a variety of ways throughout your daily routine. Read on to find out how water can help you to alleviate the stress from your life in such simple ways as drinking more of it or doing Yoga in. Proof that maybe there’s a reason Mother Nature saw fit to provide us with so much water on Earth and in our bodies: a naturally-abundant remedy for the stresses of day-to-day living.
A number of studies around the World have long documented and explored the relationship between water & its abilities to reduce stress. One example of the stress-relieving capabilities of water can be illustrated by the existence of cortisol in our bodies, a stress hormone. When we are just a little bit dehydrated (by as little as a half a litre), our bodies react by releasing cortisol and other hormones, which wreak havoc with our well-being. By not drinking the advised amount of water on a daily basis, we directly place stress on our bodies, which react in such a way that we are unable to escape the hormones that induce stress, and the negative side effects thereof.
While we can’t guarantee that simply sipping on the recommended number of cups of water a day will do away with all of your stress, we can note the relationship between stress and dehydration. In a corollary effect, when we’re stressed already, our bodies have an increased tendency towards dehydration. This is the direct result of the negative side effects of stress, including an increased heart rate and our tendency to forget our commitments to eating healthy and drinking water. While it can take a little time to reverse the negative side effects of stress, it’s reassuring to know that simply increasing your daily intake of water is a step towards coping better during times of extreme stress in your day-to-day life.
Water & Stress Reduction in Other Countries
The link between water and stress reduction is one that can be noted in other countries and their cultures. This illustrates the vital role the water has played for hundreds of years in various cultural traditions. China, for example, has a long-standing tradition called Zu Yu, wherein women soak their feet in warm water and salts before they go to bed. By immersing their feet in the warm water solution, they are able to reduce any swelling in the feet while simultaneously improving blood circulation. Warm water can help to reduce often painful foot conditions, while also actively encouraging individuals to relax by forcing them to sit still and soak up fifteen minutes or more before they go to bed.
As a characteristic of any Spa, a hot sauna has long been a source of relief for stressed bodies and minds. In Russia, this tradition of sitting in a hot sauna or a banya as it is called is a cherished one. By sitting in the extreme moist heat, tension is melted away, while the skin is relieved of its impurities. Sauna sitters not only look more radiant by regularly visiting a sauna, but feel less stressed too. However, for those without the luxury of access to a sauna, a hot shower can be just as beneficial. A study conducted at Yale University indicated the enveloping warmth of a hot shower and its ability to act as a trigger for the brain and the body to release emotional warmth and “feel good” hormones. In this way, it’s clear to see why so many people consider a hot shower to be as much a mood booster than a daily hygiene requirement.
The healing properties in water have long been held in high regard by the beliefs and teachings of Buddhism. The virtues that those who practice Buddhism assign to water include calmness, clarity and purity. The Buddhist’s teachings are also represented by water as a “sweet nectar” that quenches our spiritual thirst and nourishes us. As a result of these positive capabilities and beliefs around water, Buddhist cultures involves water in a variety of its practices: practices that play a vital role in allowing the individual to be healed while taking the necessary steps toward enlightenment, or as it is referred to in Buddhist teaching, the moment when True Happiness is realised.
Aquatic Bodywork & Aqua Yoga
Aquatic Bodywork and Aqua Yoga are two programs that have developed out of recognition of water’s capability to reduce stress in the body and mind. Thermal Aquatic Bodywork is done in body temperature water with the intention of promoting a patient’s well-being while undergoing a number of exercise and therapy treatments in the water to alleviate chronic pain and reduce anxiety. Aqua Yoga retains the intent of Yoga to encourage the individual to work towards a state of perfect spiritual insight and tranquillity ,while drawing on the ability of water to assist, resist and support the practitioner throughout the process. Done in warm water, Aqua Yoga harvest the thermal healing properties of water to encourage the body and mind to let go of pent-up stress, thereby encouraging relaxation and promoting general well-being.
Look & Listen
Water is such an effective stress treatment, that simply being around it has positive benefits. For these reasons, indoor or outdoor fountains that deliver the peaceful sound of flowing water, are considered to be highly beneficial in the setting of a spa, a work place or at home. Another popular water feature comes in the form of an aquarium of fish, with studies showing that the viewing of a fish tank can both lower blood pressure and reduce stress.
Having reviewed the link between water and stress reduction, it’s hard to deny how important a role water can play in the overall experience we have of our daily lives. So, whether it’s sticking to your New Year’s resolution of drinking eight or more cups of water a day, or sleeping with the windows open during a rainy night, you can now be aware of how all your interactions with water may leave you looking and feeing healthier in a variety of ways, while also helping to reduce your stress levels in an effective and natural way.