While we could talk about the benefits of hydration for years, this article discusses how drinking water can affect work performance through mood.
It’s Monday morning and you’re sitting at your desk, bright eyed and cheery, thinking to yourself “I am ready and excited to tackle the busy work week ahead” – let’s be realistic; that is pretty much no one, ever. Most Monday mornings start with a sluggish pace and morning routines to muster up the motivation for the day ahead, never mind the entire week! So how can we help improve our mood when we have a case of the Monday blues? Many of us would be surprised to hear that it can be as simple as increasing our hydration levels to improve our mood! Mood is one of the BIG ways that hydration can affect performance at work. Let’s take a deeper dive into the pool of information on the effects hydration has on our mood so your workday can go swimmingly!
We may or may not be very aware of the external factors that affect our mood at work, like that employee that won’t stop clicking their pen or the one that must chew their carrots at 10am every morning for the whole office to hear. However, are we aware that there are internal factors that affect our mood? Our physical health and emotional state are very closely interconnected, with one affecting the other. So, how does hydration affect our mood?
In a hydration study conducted with 52 randomized subjects, one of the areas assessed was a “Profile of Mood States”, which was a self-administered scale that measured 6 different mood factors: Tension-Anxiety, Depression-Dejection, Anger-Hostility, Fatigue-Inertia, Vigor-Activity, and Confusion-Bewilderment. The greater the score, the greater the corresponding mood state. It was found that increasing daily water intake for people that habitually drink a low amount of water led to a mood improvement.
On the contrary, decreasing the water intake for the people that habitually drank a high amount of water resulted in a negative mood impact. The test subjects drinking more water had significantly reduced scores for confusion, whereas the test subjects required to drink less water had detrimental effects to their calmness, satisfaction, and overall positive emotions.
Why Hydrating Increases Your Mood
So, now that we’ve established that hydration can affect our mood, let’s look into the why behind it! Put simply, being even mildly dehydrated can throw off the delicate balance of natural chemicals in our brains that affect our feelings of anxiety and depression. The main chemicals affected are dopamine and serotonin. When hydration is low, this slows the circulation throughout our bodies, including the brain which is comprised of about 75% water. This slowed circulation decreases the amount of oxygen being delivered throughout our bodies, which is vital for normal bodily functions – especially the brain! Our brains have the ability to detect dehydration, which scientists suggest is the feeling of thirst. When feeling this dehydration, studies show that our brain may be signaling parts of the brain that affect mood regulation. What is the solution when we are dehydrated, and it is affecting our mood regulation? Drink water and rehydrate!
The Liquid Mood Enhancer
Wow – water really is a natural liquid mood enhancer! While it is rarely considered that water can help with work performance, understanding the relationship between hydration and our mood brings perspective, as our mood directly affects productivity at work. Living in as lovely a place as we do can leave us forgetting how truly lucky we are to access clean drinking water so readily. Next time you or a co-worker is getting irritable or negative, consider taking the conversation over to the water cooler and hydrating up!
Check back for the third article in this series “How Hydration Affects Work Performance: Part 3 – Cognitive Abilities”!