November is a rough month. Daylight savings takes away an hour of sunlight in the evening so it’s pitch black by 5:30 p.m. It’s cold, it’s wet, and all you want to do is curl up and sleep. If you’re in university, you’re gearing up for final exams, papers, and group projects. If you’re like me, you’ve signed yourself up for an insane endeavor called NaNoWriMo, which you’re trying to balance with work, social engagements, family, chores, and sleep.
I thrive on being busy, but, like everyone else, sometimes it gets to be too much. Things start running into each other, tasks you said you’d do yesterday still aren’t done, and on top of that, you’ve somehow found yourself doing someone else’s job at work. In short, you’ve got too much going on, and you’re freaking out.
A piece of advice for dealing with everyday stressors that sounds dumb the first second you hear it, but becomes increasingly obvious soon enough: “just add water.”
As soon as you start to feel things are getting to be too much, drink a tall glass of H2O – seriously. Not only does proper hydration help treat and prevent headaches – a common side effect of both stress and dehydration – but it also affects brain function and energy levels. And, a study by Pross and colleagues found that dehydration can lead to confusion, fatigue, and decreased alertness – all things that, paired with a busy week – or month – can leave you feeling more frazzled than fresh.
Next step: actually immersing your body in water (aka showering). Not only does it leave you squeaky clean and smelling like a flower garden or fruit basket, but showering (especially in the A.M.) has been shown to increase energy, stimulate creativity, raise comfort levels, decrease depressive symptoms, and improve sleep.
Then there’s depositing yourself near a body of water just to chill. These moments, where we interact with a “blue environment,” reduces stress hormones, and slows our heart rate, increasing feelings of calm. Not only that, but the sound of waves or running water is a type of white noise, which blocks out unpleasant sounds, which leads to greater relaxation, and better sleep later on.
I had a pretty rough day Saturday. In short, I tend to take on too many things and inevitably get overwhelmed, causing myself a great deal of stress that could be avoided if I learned to say no once in a while. Regardless, I deposited myself in a bubble bath and didn’t come out until I felt better.
I like the idea that, even if we feel our world is crumbling around us, we can do something as simple as jump in the shower or drive to a nearby lake and just.. Chill. Our bodies are 60 percent water. Of course we need it – in varying forms – to keep us healthy and functioning properly.
This is, of course, a simple fix. Water won’t help you pass exams, nor will it pay your rent or fix your car when it breaks down. It won’t have a hard talk with your partner, and it won’t quit your job for you. What it does do is help you get back to baseline quickly so you’re better equipped with stressful situations.
Thomas Aquinas, Italian priest and scholar, was quoted as saying “Sorrow can be alleviated by good sleep, a bath, and a glass of wine,” and I have to say, dude knew what he was talking about.