Updated: Feb 10, 2021
The average human body is made up of 60% water, making hydration key to a healthy lifestyle. As simple as it may seem, drinking water is a challenge for many. While the recommended amount of daily water intake can vary from person to person, nearly half of US adults admit to drinking less than four cups of water per day.
Along with many others, staying hydrated has always been a personal struggle of mine. Growing up, I almost never drank water — the only time I even had it with me was while I was playing soccer in 100+ degree weather (even then, it was mostly for dumping on my head while I instead sipped on Gatorade). However, staying hydrated is essential to keep us functioning properly and staying healthy. According to the CDC and Harvard Health, water is responsible for transporting nutrients throughout the body, ridding of toxins, helping digestion, regulating blood pressure and body temperature, protecting tissues and organs, lubricating and cushioning joints, and maintaining electrolyte balance.
As I’ve gotten older and realized what an impact hydration has on health and how it affects the way I feel throughout the day, I’ve taken small steps to increase my fluid intake on a daily basis. Here are some of the strategies I have used and recommended to clients, to stay hydrated:
Add it to Your To-Do List
Okay, so this strategy isn’t so fun, but it can be really effective. If you’re someone who loves to cross things off your to-do list or need some form of accountability, putting something like “drink 8 cups of water” on your to-do list can be extremely helpful. Check out these Weekly and Monthly Habit Tracker resources to keep up with your daily water intake goals.
Spice it up with some flavor
…Literally. As the colder winter days have finally hit, hot tea full of different spices (decaf is best!) has become part of my daily rotation not only to keep me hydrated, but also to keep me warm and cozy. Other ways to add flavor and make drinking water a little more enjoyable and less of a chore is to add a slice of lemon, or infuse it with other fruits, veggies, or herbs, like berries, cucumbers, and mint.
Make it sparkling
Sparkling waters have become my new go-to in 2019. If you find water to be too bland, fear not! There are so many fun and natural flavors of sparkling water available for a fruity, yet low calorie option. I love Spindrift, Langers Organic and La Croix, but the brand options are limitless.
Create a visual reminder
When we’re creating new habits, use cues to your advantage. Leaving your water out somewhere where you know you’ll see it can act as a visual reminder to cue you to drink up — try on your desk for a reminder throughout the day or next to your bedside as a reminder to hydrate as soon as you wake up. Another helpful visual cue that can aid in water consumption is having a water bottle with markings that show you how much to drink by a certain time. You can choose to shoot for a cup per hour or drink a certain amount by lunch and dinner time. If you like crafting, make your own. Otherwise, you can find a pre-made one like Healthish water bottles.
Carry it with you. Always.
Going off of the last strategy, if you carry a bottle with you, you’re probably more likely to drink it. I keep my Hydroflask with me at all times so I always have something to sip on and can refill it when it goes empty. It’s insulated, too, so it’s perfect for keeping my cold water cold, or my hot water hot.
Pair it with part of your routine
New habits can be easier to form if you pair it with one that already exists. Try drinking a bottle during your morning routine after you brush your teeth or when you change into your comfy clothes as you decompress after work. Another option: you most likely eat a few meals per day, so add a glass or two of water with each of them. As an added bonus, the water will fill you up and can help prevent over eating.
Probably my favorite means of “drinking” more is getting water through the foods I eat. While you shouldn't substitute all water intake with hydrating foods, it's a good way to add a little more fluid into your daily consumption and keep you satiated. Next time you head to the store, add these high water content foods to your shopping list: watermelon, celery, cucumbers, oranges, strawberries, tomatoes, leafy greens…essentially, lots of fruits and veggies.
As a final tip, don't go from 0 to 60 ounces of water in one day. Incrementally increase your water intake so it's sustainable. Pick a manageable starting point (say, 30 ounces) to sustain for the first week, 5-10 ounces more the next week, and 5-10 more the week after that, until you reach your doctor-recommended amount.
Disclaimer: This website is intended as an informational resource from the perspective of an occupational therapist and should not take the place of professional medical advice.
be well + balance has no affiliations with products mentioned in this article.