Thursday, 26 October 2017

Beginning My Self Care Journey: Why Hydration Is Vital For Health

Please Note:  This post does not in any way act as medical advice.  I'm beginning a new self care project and wanted to share what I've found out about how important hydration can be for our health.  If you suffer from any health conditions or would like to find out more about how hydration impacts on your health please speak to your doctor or health care professional for advice.

Hi Honeys
How are you today?  Autumn is very quickly turning into winter here. The nights are increasingly dark, chilly and unwelcoming.  So much rain honeys and so, so chilly in the winds.

I know I say it every year but I'll say it again anyway 😊  I firmly believe that it should be a legitimate choice at this time of year to hibernate.  As the weather turns cold, rainy and miserable I'd happily wander off upstairs to bed with a hot water bottle and our furbaby Jade to hug and just stay there!

Around early to mid March, depending on the weather of course, my dear Hubby could come wake me up with a lovely cuppa, a smile and a "it's sunny outside honey, I've put your first load of wash on and you have a new washing line up outside." Such joy!

I would (as near as my poor wee arthritis knotted body would let me) bound out of bed and happily throw myself into doing laundry and pegging it all outside 😊  I so love doing laundry honeys.  I adore it.  During the long, long (toooooo long) months when I can't peg my laundry outside I have the blessing of our "pulley" and I don't know what I'd do without it.

Lack of outside laundry pegging opportunities, lack of sunshine and a general feeling of "it's not summer anymore" blues are weighing heavily on me.  Added to this I still have that dreadful cough I've had for approaching four months now which the Doctor at the hospital told me has become bronchitis and my skin feels like it's never seen a drop of moisture in, well, ever really.

I mean, there are fallen leaves outside that are less dried out than my face feels honeys.  This is just yet another problem I'm going to have to address at a time when I'm feeling less able to cope with anything than I have in the longest time ever.  So, dear ones, I've made a decision.

Beginning a self care project - Why hydration is vital for health.

My new project has to be me.  I'm going to have to focus on feeling better, because right now I'm so run down I'm just not coping with anything.  I've been ill most of this year and I've allowed a combination of low mood, zero energy and battling constant chest infections, headaches and body pain to beat me into submission.  So much so that I've given up any semblance of self care.  This has to change dear ones. Just has to.  My dear GP has tried to help by giving me antibiotics to try to shift this horrid chest infection which has now turned into bronchitis but I have to concentrate on helping myself too.

I'm going to make a serious effort to begin a self care routine.  First problem on my list to find a solution to, although there are others of course, is my turning leathery (eeewww!) skin.

I should quantify that statement by saying its not all of my skin.  It seems to be reserved to the skin above my eyebrows and on my forehead.  I can't understand it.  I've tried so many moisturisers, day cream, night cream but the dry, "flakey" patches re-appear.  Just ick!

OK, so first area to focus on in my little self care project then honeys is my skin.  There are, of course, other parts to my latest, and probably most important (after all what's more important than our health?) project though.  Other areas will include:

  • Getting rid of this cough/bronchitis - this is proving to be really difficult.  I may need to actually rest for while. I don't do resting very well. There's always something for me to be getting on with but I'm so run down now I've reached the stage where, as my Dr said to me once years ago, I'm "writing cheques my body can't cash."  Resting is another word for being lazy to me but I'll really have to try.
  • Being a first class hermit: Other than to go to work and the occasional visit to our Doctor's surgery or to the arthritis clinic at the hospital, I don't go out.  At all. Ever.  Part of the reason for this dear ones is that I can't walk any distance at all without my lower spine screaming at me (osteo arthritis) but I also battle the worst anxiety.  I've managed to face down the panic attacks I used to have but even thinking about going outside can cause my heart to race and on bad days for me to actually feel sick.  I need to deal with this, even if it's only spending more time outside in our beloved garden with Jade to start with and building from there.
  • Lack of sleep: Every single night I go to bed and I put the small TV in our bedroom on.  I watch TV till my eyes, and brain, are sleepy enough that I fall asleep.  It took me a long time to "train" my brain to switch off in this way, before then I suffered from insomnia so badly that I could be awake for 2-3 days at a time, but now I can't get to sleep unless I watch TV.  What I'd so love to be able to do is to just go upstairs, climb into bed, switch off my bedside light and go to sleep, you know, like a normal person.  On average I'll have 3-5 hours of (very) broken sleep each night, and I'd consider that a good night.  It's no wonder I'm always so exhausted and poor Hubby!  He tells me he can sleep through anything but he can't be getting any decent rest with a TV on all the time.  I've just bought a book "The Sleep Book" by Dr Guy Meadows, which arrived yesterday. It seems interesting so far,  I'm hoping it will help.
  • Fixing my dry, flakey skin: The first area I'm going to concentrate on then is my rapidly drying out face.  This is starting to seriously weird me out.  I mentioned it to our practice nurse, before she left us recently, but she didn't suggest any ways of dealing with it. 

Beginning My Self Care Journey

I've never actually had to think about my skin honeys, honestly, my whole life I've had good skin.  I'm not boasting and I could kick myself for not appreciating it at the time but I've never had to think about spots, rashes, nothing.  Common sense tells me it might have something to do with age.  Being a lady of a certain age.... let's just say I won't see 45 again so the term middle age definitely applies, but you know what?  I'm OK with that 😊 What I'm not OK with is my skin turning into an old, worn, leather handbag.

I've been drinking more water, attempting to drink as much as I can each day.  So far I've been managing two of my water bottles, the ones I use at work, a day which is almost a litre and a half.  It's harder than I thought to drink so much water but I'm trying.  Of course I also have the occasional cup of tea, hot chocolate or glass of milk or fruit juice too throughout the day. 

Why is it that water or fluids in general are so vital to maintaining our health then honeys, no matter how old, or young, we are?  Why not go grab yourself a cuppa, or even better a large glass of lovely cool water, and we'll find out...

Why Water Is Essential To Our Health

I've been reading as much as I can on how to not only stay hydrated but also how to cope with dry skin and this is a little of what I've found out.  Water is essential to our bodies health and well being since more than half of our bodies are in fact made up of water.  Our body needs water for vital functions including:  
  • Our bodies use water to move around oxygen and nutrients to where they're needed.
  • Water is used by our bodies to help control our digestive system and to help it function properly.
  • Water helps control our body's temperature and prevents us from becoming overheated.
  • Water helps our bodies organs work better, for instance drinking lots of fresh water will help prevent kidney infections because it will help our kidneys to flush out anything that shouldn't be there.
  • Our bodies also use fluids of course to eliminate waste products too.

What Might Cause Dehydration

  • Certain health conditions:  People who suffer certain health conditions, such as diabetes, can become dehydrated more easily. Diabetics are at risk because they have high levels of glucose in their blood which their body may try to eliminate by passing urine more frequently.  It is important for anyone urinating frequently to drink more fluids to replace any lost. 
  • Too much exposure to the sun:  Sunny days are fun but limit the time spent under direct sunlight, wear sunscreen too, wear a hat and always have a bottle of water nearby honeys.
  • Excessive alcohol: Drinking too much alcohol can lead to dehydration since alcohol is a diuretic which makes the body pass more urine.  The headache usually associated with a hangover is a sign of dehydration and the bodies fluids needing to be replaced. 
  • Tummy upsets or illness: If we have an illness which causes us to suffer diarrhoea or vomiting then the fluids lost will need to be replaced.  If you can't drink without vomiting instead lick an ice cube until able to sip even a little.  Chemists or pharmacies sell electrolyte sachets. A powder which, when added to water, will replace salts and minerals lost during sickness or vomiting.
  • Sweating: Whether sweating heavily due to exercise, warm temperatures or carrying out manual labour, it's important to drink fluids to replace those lost.     

How To Increase Fluid Intake

Of course drinking enough water each day can feel difficult at times, especially when we're not yet accustomed to it,  but there are ways to help make it easier to reach our target of approximately 8 glasses a day, although you may need more or even less depending on health and lifestyle - for instance, as I said above,  someone who exercises a lot will have to replace the fluids lost through sweating.  If you are finding it difficult to drink water why not try:

  • Coconut water: Coconut water is rich in potassium, tasty, refreshing and can be drunk on its own or used as a base for smoothies in place of fruit juices. 
  • Have a regular cuppa: Why not make it a habit to stop for a cup of tea or coffee mid morning and again mid afternoon?  Why not be even healthier and cut out the caffeine and have a herbal or fruit tea instead? There are so many delicious flavours available now and most have antioxidant qualities too.
  • Choose your 5-a-day wisely: Combine your "5-a-day" fruit & veg target with produce which contains extra water.  Water rich fruits include: oranges, kiwis, blueberries, grapefruits, watermelons, apples and many, many more while water rich vegetables include: celery, broccoli, cucumber, iceberg lettuce, spinach, watercress and many, many more.
  • Carry water with you: Buy a good water bottle and re-fill it throughout the day.  You can keep your drinking water interesting by adding your favourite fruits or veggies to your bottle to add natural flavouring.  Much better for you than mass produced flavoured water. 
  • Have a glass of water with dinner:  Even if you're having a glass of wine with dinner, have a glass of chilled water to sip on too while eating.     

How To Make Sure You're Drinking Enough Water

The easiest way to check whether you're drinking enough water each day is by being mindful of how often you visit the toilet and by the colour of your urine.  

Is It Possible To Drink Too Much Water?

It actually is possible, although very rare, to drink too much water.  There is a condition called hyponatraemia (link to more information below) which is caused by the natural levels of sodium (or salt) in the blood being upset, so dropping to an unhealthy level.  For instance this can happen when someone exercises, sweats and then drinks too much water in too short a time.    

Symptoms can include nausea (feeling sick) headaches and vomiting.  Please seek help if you ever think this might apply to you, that you may have drunk too much water in too short a time such as post exercising, and might be suffering the effects of hyponatraemia, since it can be very serious and may need to be treated by a doctor or by an urgent hospital visit.  

Useful Links For Further Reading

  • 6 Big Myths About Hydration:  This is an interesting article separating the myths from the truths about healthy hydration from You can find link here
  • Keeping Hydrated: Lots of useful information from health professionals BUPA and you can find the link here.
  •  Heart Health: A very interesting article from the American Heart Association on why drinking enough water is vital for our health as a whole but particularly for our hearts can be found here. 
  • Stay Hydrated For Health:  An article from the online SAGA magazine on why staying hydrated is especially important as we grow older. You can read it here.
  • Hyponatraemia: A potentially serious condition caused by low levels of sodium (salt) in the blood.  Further reading can be found here.
  • How To Spot Dehydration, How To Treat & Prevent It: A very useful page from the NHS on what to look out for and when to seek help or treatment.  You can find the page here. 
So, there we have it honeys.  I'm off on a journey and I'm determined, positively determined, to do my best to change my own health for the better.  I've relied entirely on doctors, even though mine are truly wonderful, for too long. Each time I attend the Arthritis clinic I hope they'll have found a magic pill to make the pain go away.  Maybe someday they will but until then I need to do my part too.   I'm hoping that tiny steps each day will lead to positive outcomes down the road.

What do you do for self care honeys?  How do you make regular deposits in the bank of you?  Have you any suggestions for me?  I know this will be an uphill struggle at times for me but I'm hoping and praying that my angels will help me get there.  Do you believe in angels?  I surely do and always have.

Thank you for keeping me company dear ones, till next time, smile lots and hug even more, huggles always xx

Huggles Always Honeys, Rosie xx

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