Dehydration and Anxiety

Dehydration and Anxiety: How to Keep Calm

Feeling on edge, stressed out, worried or experiencing panic attacks? One potential underestimated trigger could be mild dehydration exacerbating anxiety or making symptoms worse. Staying properly hydrated is essential for controlling anxiety holistically.

This thorough article explains the scientific relationship between dehydration and anxiety. You’ll learn how low water intake promotes anxiety through effects on hormones, neurotransmitters, blood flow and more. We’ll also cover actionable tips to hydrate using refreshing sources like Artic Refresh to keep anxiety under control.

Overview of the Dehydration-Anxiety Connection

While not the sole cause, consistent research reveals links suggesting dehydration potentially contributes to anxiety in multiple ways:

  • Dehydration shrinks brain volume. This pressure on the brain can trigger anxiety and headaches.
  • Thick dehydrated blood flows more poorly. Reduced oxygen amplifies anxiety cues.
  • Toxins that accumulate when dehydrated cause inflammation implicated in anxiety.
  • Dry airways trigger panic sensations of shortness of breath.
  • Low water intake concentrates stress hormones like cortisol.
  • Electrolyte imbalances from dehydration induce anxiety symptoms.
  • Reduced blood plasma volume from dehydration causes cardiovascular strain.

Let’s explore the science behind each of these mechanisms in greater detail.

Dehydration Shrinks Brain Volume

Even mild water loss shrinks the brain’s hydrophilic tissues. This shrinking places physical pressure on the brain inside the rigid skull casing. Headaches quickly result.

One key area affected is the amygdale, the brain’s emotional control center where anxiety originates. When compressed by a shrinking dehydrated brain, the amygdale grows hypersensitive.

This triggers increased activation of the sympathetic nervous system and release of stimulating catecholamine hormones coupled with lowered GABA calming neurotransmitters.

The combination sets an anxiety-provoking fight-or-flight state. Simply rehydrating to restore brain volume and amygdale functioning alleviates this anxiety source.

Blood Flow and Oxygenation Effects

As the body loses water, blood plasma volume decreases. This thickens blood consistency making it harder for the heart to pump.

Research confirms that higher hematocrit concentration impedes microcirculation of blood through tiny brain capillaries as thicker viscous blood has more friction against vessel walls.

Sluggish dehydrated blood flow reduces cerebral oxygenation. Even mild hypoxia as little as 2% low oxygen triggers panic sensations given the brain’s massive oxygen demands.

Proper hydration keeps blood viscosity optimized for reaching all brain regions. Don’t let your brain starve for oxygen and set off alarm bells due to neglecting sufficient water intake.

Toxicity and Inflammation

When in a state of low water intake, your cells cannot efficiently flush waste products and toxins build up internally. This causes inflammation.

Pro-inflammatory cytokines like C-reactive protein and histamines rise to signal tissue irritation. Inflammation sensitizes the brain’s threat response center and cognition suffers.

Toxins may also directly influence neurotransmitters. For example, excess quadruples serotonin and subsequently depletes it, which are classic triggers for anxiety and panic attacks.

Adequate hydration provides the fluid transport medium needed to remove inflammatory toxins before they provoke anxious mental states.

Respiratory Distress

When you don’t drink enough water, your mucosal membranes lining the nose, mouth and throat become dry and irritated. This triggers a feeling of restricted breathing.

The brain senses the distressed respiratory surfaces and difficulty inhaling fully. Your body enters fight-or-flight believing suffocation is imminent. This instantly sets panic.

Properly hydrating your mucosal barriers prevents these false suffocation sensations arising from dehydrated airways. Sufficient water intake keeps air flowing smoothly.

Concentrated Stress Hormones

Under conditions of low fluid intake, the body aims to conserve water by minimizing loss. One way is reducing urine output by the kidneys.

This concentrates waste products in urine. High levels of the stress hormone cortisol become detectable and reabsorbed.

Reabsorbing excess cortisol directly elevates anxiety. Simply drinking more water dilutes cortisol to safer lower levels in the kidneys rather than recycling high doses.

Electrolyte Imbalances

Electrolytes like sodium, potassium and magnesium carry electrical signals vital for nerve and muscle function. When short on water, electrolyte levels shift out of balance.

Low magnesium in particular is strongly associated with anxiety and nervous system hyperexcitability. Keeping magnesium diluted appropriately in your blood and brain tissue can prevent this trigger.

Additionally, sodium is critical for maintaining adrenal function and proper cortisol balance. Dip too low on sodium from dehydration and cortisol spikes uncontrollably.

Cardiovascular Strain

As noted earlier, low water intake concentrates the blood into a smaller circulating volume. This causes strain on your cardiovascular system.

When persistently dehydrated, your heart has to compensate by beating harder and faster to move the thick blood through your vessels and maintain oxygenation.

This taxes the heart and vascular system, which the brain perceives as a potential threat. Chronic cardiovascular strain from dehydration causes hypervigilance and anxiety ultimately.

Diagnosing Dehydration

Since low-grade chronic dehydration can sneak up on you and gradually provoke anxiety over weeks or months, recognize these signs:

  • Thirst
  • Fatigue/lethargy
  • Flushing and clammy skin
  • Minimal sweat when hot
  • Dry eyes and mouth
  • Muscle cramps
  • Dizziness when standing fast
  • Dark yellow or amber urine

Catching dehydration early and intervening with increased water intake can reverse anxiety arising from these mechanisms. Don’t overlook your fluid intake.

General Tips to Beat Dehydration

Here are tips to ensure you stay well hydrated to keep dehydration-induced anxiety at bay:

  • Carry a water bottle and sip frequently throughout your day.
  • Choose water instead of sugary, caffeinated, or alcoholic drinks that strain hydration levels.
  • Eat water-rich fruits and vegetables to increase fluid levels.
  • Monitor your urine color as an objective metric of hydration status.
  • Drink extra before, during and after exercise to replace sweat losses.
  • Be vigilant with hydration if you live in or travel to hot, arid climates.
  • Treat yourself to a fun reusable water bottle you look forward to drinking from.
  • Infuse your water with fruits or cucumbers for flavor if you dislike plain water.

Keep these strategies top of mind to make proper hydration a daily habit, not an afterthought.

Best Beverages to Quench Thirst and Calm Anxiety

While plain water is perfectly healthy, turning to certain beverages can make maintaining hydration easier while also lowering anxiety:

Coconut Water – Packed with anxiety-calming magnesium and potassium electrolytes. Low in sugar.

Chamomile Tea – Soothes anxiety and mild dehydration headaches. Avoid caffeine.

Tart Cherry Juice – Naturally high in melatonin to ease stress and promote sleep. Dilute with water.

Watermelon Juice – High water content plus L-citrulline amino acid shown to relax blood vessels.

Peppermint Tea – Helps muscle cramps from dehydration. Peppermint oil also reduces anxiety.

Oat Milk – High electrolyte bioavailability to restore balance. Avoid dairy milk as lactose dehydrates.

Rotate these anti-anxiety beverages with regular water for all-day stable hydration.

Best Foods to Eat for Hydration and Anxiety Relief

In addition to nutrient-dense beverages, eating water-rich foods combats dehydration:

Cucumbers – 96% water. Mild diuretic helps flush kidneys. Potassium counters low blood pressure.

Watermelon – 92% water. Natural electrolytes prevent fluid imbalances. Citrulline relaxes blood vessels.

Zucchini – 95% water. Provides steady hydration across hours of digestion. Purees well for smoothies.

Grapefruit – 91% water. Refreshing, low-calorie. Assists detoxing enzymes. Potent antioxidant lowers inflammation.

celery – 95% water. Electrolyte source with calming magnesium, potassium, and chlorides. Adds crunch to smoothies.

Blueberries – 85% water. Aid cellular rehydration. Boost mood with antioxidants.

Greek Yogurt – Thick, satisfying texture. Protein sustains energy. Probiotics improve gut-brain axis. Calcium assists sleep.

Eat mindfully from nature’s hydration sources and let food be your ally in combating anxiousness caused by fluid loss.

Tips for Proper Hydration at Work

Many occupied workers neglect hydration needs at the office. Stay proactive with these approaches:

  • Set a repeating alarm on your computer or phone every 60-90 minutes reminding you to drink water.
  • Keep a favorite mug or water bottle on your desk rather than relying on a distant kitchenette or water cooler for refills.
  • Install a stylish desktop water dispenser with ambient, cold, and sparkling options to make drinking more enticing.
  • Infuse a glass water pitcher with lemon, lime, oranges, cucumber or mint to add flavor.
  • Drink a full glass of water before eating lunch to aid digestion and prevent overeating.
  • Stand up and walk to the farthest bathroom or water source to gain steps and a short rehydrating break.
  • Start a buddy system with coworkers to remind each other to sip water throughout the day.
  • Upload a fun daily hydration tracking app to visualize your water intake goals.
  • Sip water slowly rather than gulping. Let the cold liquid soothe your mouth and throat.

Make steady sipping a normal routine all workday long to avoid dehydration sinking in.

Ideal Nighttime Hydration Routine

Many people short themselves on water while engrossed in evening activities. Then they toss and turn with insomnia. Here are tips for proper night hydration:

  • Consume the majority of your water 3-4 hours before bedtime to allow time for voiding.
  • Sip some electrolyte water 30-60 minutes before bed to provide minerals lost during sleep.
  • Eat fruits rich in melatonin like cherries, pineapple, oranges and kiwis which provide hydration as well.
  • Take a warm bath before bed which aids hydration through skin absorption.
  • Apply a rich nighttime moisturizer to seal hydration into thirsty facial skin.
  • Mist your pillowcase and sheets with lavender hydrosol to relax and provide light hydration via inhalation.
  • Keep a carafe or bottled water by your bedside to fulfill nighttime thirst without fully waking up.

Prioritize quality hydration in the evening and night to allow peaceful rest free of dehydration-induced anxiety or insomnia.

Maximizing Water While Traveling

Traveling poses hydration challenges with dry airplane cabin air, arid destinations, tropical heat, and questionable water sources. Stay on top of hydration:

  • Drink 8oz of water per hour of flight to counteract in-flight dehydration.
  • Bring your own reusable water bottle through security checkpoints to fill up once past. Airport water fountains landside may contain more impurities.
  • Request extra water servings with your in-flight meal.
  • Avoid dehydrating caffeine and alcohol on flights which exacerbate air travel dehydration.
  • At destinations, check if tap water is potable. Consider bringing a filter bottle for sketchy areas.
  • Freeze some bottles as ice blocks to keep cooler contents chilled but also provide frozen hydration as blocks melt.
  • Flavor hot climate water with citrus fruits and fresh herbs like mint, basil, and lavender to stay refreshed.
  • Wear moisture-wicking fabrics that channel sweat away from your skin avoiding sticky dryness.

Traveling already strains your body. Make hydration a priority by creatively ensuring plenty of pure water sources everywhere you go.

Finding Purified Water While Out and About

Tap water varies greatly in quality depending on your municipality. Why risk dehydration by avoiding questionable sources? Artic Refresh vending machines provide refreshing hydration on the go:

  • Convenient Locations – Found at gyms, offices, stores – right where you frequent!
  • Multi-Stage Filtration – Our 5-stage reverse osmosis removes sediments, chlorine, metals and bacteria for purity.
  • Great Taste – Our activated carbon stage eliminates any weird municipal water tastes and odors.
  • Chilled Water – Our machines cool water to an ideal 41°F for thirst-quenching cold water anytime.
  • Reusable Bottle Refills – Insert your own container and get exactly as much as you need rather than pre-sized disposable bottles.
  • Sustainability – Far less plastic waste compared to buying endless disposable bottled water.

For premium on-the-go rehydration, rely on Artic Refresh machines to stash in your purse or car. Or install one conveniently in your workplace kitchen.

Creating an Ideal Hydration Environment

While remembering to drink enough water is crucial, you can also structure your surroundings to passively promote hydration:

  • Make a designated “hydration station” in your kitchen stocked with cold water pitchers, fruit-infused carafes, water bottles, electrolyte powders and infusers.
  • Post motivational signs and hydration tips near your workspace, bathroom mirror and refrigerator as visual reminders.
  • Set phone background images to refreshing glasses of icy water or fruit-filled pitchers to nudge you subconsciously.
  • Make hydration a social experience by carrying a cute water bottle to sip among friends and family, or setting out a stylish cold water dispenser for guests.
  • Invest in a counter water purifier, chilling system, or filtration pitcher so high quality water is always conveniently available.
  • Play relaxing nature sounds like trickling streams, rain showers or ocean waves to spark thirst subconsciously.

Take steps to promote a “hydration culture” in your personal spaces. Combined with active habits, you’ll hardly forget to drink up.

Supporting Overall Anxiety Management

Of course properly addressing anxiety requires a holistic approach including nutrition, sleep, exercise, social support, nature exposure and stress relief habits. But don’t overlook hydration as a foundational piece of the puzzle.

Water is the basic fluid of life that allows every bodily process to flow smoothly. Cut corners here and dysfunction inevitably results. But make hydration a priority – utilizing sources like Artic Refresh vending machines – and you provide your system the essential ingredients for peak mental health.

Conclusion and Summary

In summary, research confirms a clear link between chronic low-grade dehydration and increased anxiety, panic and worry. Failing to drink sufficient water daily allows numerous triggers to pile up:

  • Brain compression
  • Reduced oxygenation
  • Accumulation of inflammatory toxins
  • Respiratory distress
  • Concentrated stress hormones
  • Electrolyte imbalance
  • Cardiovascular strain

Reciting this list makes committing to proper hydration seem like an obvious first step in any anxiety reduction plan. Listen to your body, pay attention to thirst and urine color, and proactively seek out filtered, appealing drinking water sources like Artic Refresh.

With this conscious effort and priority on regular hydration, you provide a strong foundation to keep anxiety in check before it ever gets out of hand. Small consistent habits surrounding water intake make all the difference.

FAQ About Dehydration and Anxiety

How much water should you drink daily to avoid anxiety?

Experts recommend at least 2-3 liters daily as a baseline for adequate hydration to maintain mental health. Drink sufficiently to keep your urine light yellow.

What are common signs of dehydration?

Excessive thirst, fatigue, headache, dizziness, dry mouth and eyes, dark urine, constipation, muscle cramps. Pay attention so mild dehydration doesn’t sneak up on you.

How long does it take to rehydrate and reduce anxiety after dehydration?

Aim to drink 2-3 cups every hour with electrolytes until your urine is mostly clear. Symptoms should improve within 24 hours. Severe dehydration requires medical support.

What foods are hydrating during anxiety?

Fruits like watermelon, grapefruit, oranges. Veggies like cucumber, zucchini, spinach. Soups and broths. Oatmeal. Yogurt. Foods with high water content.

Are sports drinks good for keeping anxiety at bay?

In moderation. The electrolytes are beneficial. But the sugars can be counterproductive if consumed excessively. Rotate with plain water.

What minerals are important for hydration and mood?

Magnesium, sodium, potassium, and calcium keep electrolyte balance and nervous system stability. Get plenty from supplements or coconut water, nuts, avocados, yogurt, beans, potatoes.

Where can you fill up with pure water on the go in Austin?

Artic Refresh water vending machines located at gyms, offices, stores. Our 5-stage reverse osmosis filtration removes impurities and contaminants for clean, refreshing drinking water anytime.

Proper steady hydration all day long provides tremendous anxiety relief over time by reversing dehydration. Keep water top of mind and anxiety becomes far more controllable.