Not enough can be said about the wonderful properties of water! Drinking water is healthy for your entire system, and helps you keep the quit! The human body is up to 70% water, and yet many people do not drink enough of it throughout the day. The American lifestyle itself can be dehydrating given our frequent consumption of caffeine, alcohol, cigarettes, sodas and high sodium meals. Mild dehydration can cause water retention, bloat, constipation and other symptoms including:
• Dry skin
• Lack of energy
• Dry mouth
Are you drinking enough water? Moderate to severe dehydration can be dangerous; even fatal. Drinking enough water can help your body in many ways. The ‘8 glasses per day’ conventional wisdom is not carved in stone (or substantiated by research) so how much water you need to drink per day varies. The more you sweat or exercise, the more water you need to replace. If you consume dehydrating foods and beverages, you will need to drink more. Fruits, vegetables, tea, soup and other diet choices contain water, so you can allow for some of the water content in your diet to count towards your overall daily water intake. Try aiming for 6 glasses a day to help get your water drinking habit moving forward. This can easily be accomplished by substituting a glass of water for every soda, sugar laden juice or junk food snack you would normally reach for. Water actually makes you want to drink more, so after a few days of drinking 6 glasses per day, you will actually feel thirsty. It is that easy!
Here are a few of the many benefits of drinking enough water per day:
• Helps you KTQ! Water is great for ‘hand to mouth’ triggers, reduces physical cravings, distracts from smoking urges and takes up empty time previous spent smoking.
• Helps clear toxins. Your kidneys use water to help break down, process and clear toxins from your system.
• Aids your digestive system. Your intestines use water to keep things moving smoothly! If you don’t drink enough water, your colon pulls water to maintain hydration and constipation is a likely result.
• Helps your blood and bones. Water is used by your body to make healthy new bone and muscle cells.
• Prevents puffiness. Water has a diuretic affect in your body. Inother words, drinking lots of water will increase the excretion of water from your body. Your body holds water to preserve it. If you drink enough water, you will not retain water (unless you have a medical condition).
• Helps your metabolism. Water contributes to weight loss by stimulating your metabolism, killing hunger pangs and filling you up.
• Helps your comfort level. Water is involved in balancing your body temperature.
• Saves your joints. Water lubricates your joints and may reduce pain.
• Gives your face a healthy glow. Water improves your skin through internal hydration.
• Saves You. Water may help prevent a heart attack! Drinking a glass of water before bed or a hot bath/shower may reduce your chance of a heart attack.
• Saves money. Water is cheaper than other beverages (or free).
• Improves your smile. Water has a slight alkalizing affect which helps reduce acidity and is good for your teeth and overall mouth health.
Drinking enough water is very good for all of you! You can add lemon, lime or a splash of juice to add flavor. Try ice, a straw and your favorite glass to make drinking water a pleasant part of your day. Next week we will talk about ways to kill your cravings with certain foods.
Drink up, and KTQ!
Vikki CTTS-M Master Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialist
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One minute you feel fine, the next you feel like crying at the drop of a hat. Other times you may feel like breaking something (or someone).
Welcome to the roller coaster of emotions called quitting smoking. Feelings of anger, stress, sadness, anxiety, and elation cycle back and forth, up and down, and take you for a loop-de-loop leaving you feeling physically exhausted and emotionally drained.
If you think you are on this ride alone, you’re not. Many ex-smokers experience mood swings when they quit smoking. This is because nicotine is a mood enhancing drug. Nicotine works by releasing feel-good chemicals (called endorphins) in the brain awakening the reward pathway. When you quit smoking, you lose not only this chemically induced happiness, but the behaviors, habits and associations you’ve also created with cigarettes as a “friend,” stress relief, a crutch, and as a way to deal with a myriad of emotions.
But smoking was never a way to cope with emotions. Smoking was a way to not deal with emotions. Smoking cigarettes literally teaches smokers to mask emotions behind a smoke screen. Freeing yourself from behind that smokescreen means learning new ways of handling emotions more effectively. Studies show that in the long run, ex-smokers are actually happier than when they did smoke!
The road to feeling more in control of your emotions may very well start with acknowledging that, at least temporarily, your emotions are out of control. Try reigning them back in with these suggestions:
- Talk things out. Call up a friend and vent. Or consider finding a therapist. If you don’t want to talk things out, then write them out in a journal, text message someone, or log into the Q and use the three post rule!
- Increase endorphins, naturally. Doing things you enjoy naturally releases endorphins: exercising, gardening, spending time with friends, working on a hobby, and playing an instrument or sport. It’s hard to be upset or sad when you’re doing something you love!
- Take a breather. Step outside and take some deep breaths. Inhale slowly through the nose and out the mouth, counting to 10 each time. Go for a brisk walk or bike ride. Exercising outdoors has been shown to improve mood!
- Use rote responses. These are mantras you repeatedly chant to yourself: One day at a time. This too shall pass. Just BREATHE!
- Ask your doctor about medications. Some quit smoking medications can help minimize withdrawal symptoms (like irritability and mood swings) while others have anti-depressant or anti-anxiety properties (Bupropion). Some herbal remedies like St. John’s Wort show promise in alleviating mild depression, anxiety and sleep disorders.
Learning new ways to cope with emotions takes time and practice. You may not feel like yourself again for days, weeks or even months after quitting. While the emotional roller coaster won’t come to an abrupt stop, the bumps and dips do eventually even out. Hang in there!