Yesterday, was another painful day in my life. With a power-cut of almost 10 hours and Internet connectivity issues, my work suffered terribly. The angst caused, gifted me a terrible headache around lunch-time.
At first, I thought it was triggered by hunger, but eating lunch didn’t help a bit. Then I changed to a warmer cardigan and put on my socks, considering I might have been feeling cold in the fluctuating weather. But to no relief.
I try my best to avoid popping pills for headaches. One, cause I get a headache very rarely (though this has changed in the past month or so) and second when I do get one, the sleuth in me spends time in hunting the cause before seeking any medical aid.
Thus ran my checklist:
Hunger – checked.
Stress – insignificant.
Cold – nope.
Fatigue – no.
Sleep deprivation- none.
But a throbbing headache was not letting me sit at peace or think straight. I couldn’t read a line without pressing my temples.
At this point, my mind always worries that perhaps my eyesight is deteriorating and maybe it’s time to visit an optician. For the records, I do not wear spectacles. So I did an eye test for myself, covering each eye, in turn, trying to read the fine print at the bottom of the wall calendar some 10 feet away. Though an annoying headache did interfere, I could read, perfectly fine with both eyes.
But a headache had refused to budge.
It was now 3:30 pm and I had an article to work on. I decided to make a cup of green tea before getting back to work. When I poured water into the cup, reflexively, I drank it (mind you I wasn’t feeling thirsty). I felt good and bit relaxed almost instantly. Encouraged by the new-found relief I drank two more cups of water before going ahead to make my cup of tea.
By the time I reached back to my study, in about 10 minutes, I realized my headache was gone.
I couldn’t credit the green tea because I hadn’t sipped it yet. Strangely though, it was water that had cured me of a headache that had been making me feel nauseous for almost 2.5 hours.
I sat down, going back to my day to see how much water I had consumed since I woke up. The answer was disturbing. I had just had one glass of warm water in the morning and one mug of water as green tea. That’s it, in the 10 hours of my being awake. I hadn’t had any water during lunch or post that.
Finally, I had solved the puzzle.
Not drinking enough water was giving me headaches.
But that could be me imagining things. This is why I did some research to verify my theory.
And finally I learnt:
Water deprivation and dehydration can lead to the development of a headache*.
I have forever been aware of my problem with drinking less water but never in my wildest dreams, I’d imagined it to take such a turn.
Since childhood, I drink minimal water despite watching my father literally flood his system with tall glasses of water every hour. Nothing could inspire me enough to drink the prescribed 8 glasses of water in a day.
Not even my parents saying it repeatedly, nor the textbooks, nor the beauty columns and neither my favourite actresses vouching for fluids as their beauty secret. Not even the episodes of acne breakouts in my early twenties.
Looking back, I feel that somewhere the roots of my bad habit of not drinking enough water lie in watching my mother do so day in and day out. She has had a flawless skin all her life (even today, in her sixties her skin can compete with mine), she’s been working like a bullet chasing errands tirelessly. This picture of my mom working just fine with minimal water reinforced my habit of drinking less water myself.
But, my system isn’t a copy of my mother’s system. It cannot bear the strain of dehydration any longer and has slowly started showing signs like the incident yesterday.
I have to admit, yesterday wasn’t the only occasion when I had an excruciating headache. On reflection, I feel I have been having them more frequently than ever before and in some way or the other, I have seen them go away by consuming one fluid or the other.
When I’ve found the diagnosis and also the cure to my headaches then why the panic and this long post?
Because I am a parent and I have a child who copies all I do without my noticing it. I am at a point in life where history is about to repeat itself when a daughter shall copy her mother without realizing the harm this (seemingly harmless) bad habit might inflict on her.
So this blog-post shall be my reminder, whenever I shall falter in my resolve to drink plenty of water and fluids all day.
A little research helped me learn about the common signs of dehydration.
Mild to moderate dehydration include the following:
- Increased thirsty – Trust your thirst, it’s there for a reason
- Dry mouth
- Feeling tired or sleepy (in general less attentive)
- Low blood pressure
- Urine is low volume and more yellowish than normal
- A headache
- Dry skin
Alarmed, I’ve started mending my ways and have had three glasses of water since I started working on this blog post.
Taking bad habits to task is tough and daunting in one stride.
One, the motivation often fizzles out in a day or two.
Two, as life gets in the way, returning to our well-practised ways of not sticking to the new-found resolve feels like self-help. At least it did to me.
That’s why I started with seeking professional advice on how much water should we drink each day.
I learnt that:
Men should drink about 3 litres (about 13 cups) of total fluids (glasses of water plus water from other beverages and food) a day.
Women should drink about 2.2 litres (about 9 cups) of total fluids a day.
This felt like a LOT to me when I first embarked on the journey of mending my ways.
But what about the advice to drink 8 glasses of water every day?
Health professionals commonly recommend;
“Drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day.”
Eight 8-ounce glasses equal to about 2 litres. This is called the 8×8 rule and is very easy to remember for daily water intake.
However, there is no scientific backing to support this quantity of recommended water consumption. But it does serve well as an average guidance to keep us hydrated.
The Action Plan:
With some help and guidance from friends and family, I decided to make this habit of staying well-hydrated all day more exciting, challenging and rewarding with the simplest of tricks.
I had to get ahead of my mind and trick myself into drinking more water without nagging myself to do it.
Besides, there are so many tasty-yet-not-healthy beverages competing with my attention that is only adding to the bad health by leaving me dehydrated and with the sugar I’m better off without.
The following tricks have been working just fine as of now:
Prepared by adding slices of fresh lemon/lime and a few leaves of mint to a cold water pitcher. Letting it stand where it is in clear view helps tempt me enough to drink water often. Adding slices of orange or fruits that you love can help zest up the experience.
Incentivizing the new habit:
For every day when I remember to drink water regularly all day, I grant myself an indulgence. An extra 15 minutes of watching my favourite videos on YouTube.
Eating my daily water requirement:
Including salads of fruits and vegetables that are primarily made up of water. Cucumber and watermelon are my favourite picks.
Keeping it simple:
I am gradually building up the habit of drinking a glass of water at these times, to add to my daily water intake without worry:
- As soon as I wake up.
- Before breakfast, lunch and dinner. It’s helping me keep a check on my tendency to overeat. Totally a win-win!
Adding in a little research:
In my research to learn more about the ways of keeping myself hydrated all day without it feeling like a chore, I learnt these fun facts.
How good are you with drinking water?
Do you drink the prescribed 8 glasses of water every day?
The song on my mind: Pani pani re ~ Maachis
* Resource: Water, Hydration and Health