Water is magical. It sustains life. It exists simultaneously in three seperate states. It has been a part of human ritual and religion since the dawn of time. It covers the majority of the world and it comprises the majority of each of us. In a very real sense, water is where the physical and the spiritual meet. It is indeed aqua vitae - the water of life.
At this point in my life (especially now that I’m post-AARP) I have a profound appreciation for my good health. I call it feeling “star spangled”! You know what I’m talking about: energy is flowing, eyes sparkle, thinking is crystal clear, digestion is running smoothly, free from illness, and joints are pain-free as though they’ve just been WD-40’d.
When I’m in this state, I look and feel at least 25 years younger. I feel as though I’m glowing from the inside out. I can easily connect to my inner guidance, my compassion is endless, my energy is boundless, and my joy and positive attitude are infectious. It’s a fantastic feeling. It’s the way we’re supposed to feel.
Now, truth be told, I am not always at the top of my game. There are plenty of times when I’m far from star spangled. Instead, I’m more like a star of the fallen variety. This usually happens when I get distracted and stop paying attention to what my body is trying to tell me.
At our deepest levels of being we are whole and complete, loving and abundant, healthy and connected. This is our natural state of being. And if we don’t quite feel that way, well, we need to be willing to slow down enough to open ourselves to the signs and signals our bodies are sending us.
Your body, mind, and spirit are always trying to reach out, grab your attention, and convince you to look within. Your internal systems are attempting to give you an accurate barometer of how you’re functioning. If you take the time to listen, then you can take the steps that will put your star back on the rise – ascendant, beautiful, and fully connected and alive.
If you’re not looking or feeling that great right now, this very minute, then today’s advice can truly shift your mental, physical, and by default, your spiritual state of being.
There is nothing that makes a bigger difference in the way you look and feel, and in your energy level, than being properly hydrated. Water, my friends, is life. When we have a sufficient amount of water in our system, we have the ability to be everything that we’re supposed to be. When we lack that water, we lack the ability to properly function, let alone shine.
Think of a sponge that’s sat too long without water. That dry, stiff sponge is our body and by connection, our mind and spirit, when water is absent. We are meant to be full of life, and water - being a main component of everything that lives - is our connection to that higher state. We’re fully ourselves when we’re hydrated. We are a husk of ourselves when we are dehydrated.
I know all-too-well the effects of dehydration. Drinking enough water is a habit that I’m constantly trying to instill within myself. When I don’t, I feel headachy and confused, the whites of my eyes are yellow and bloodshot, my skin is more wrinkled and sallow. I’ll wake up with pimples on my chin, cheeks, and forehead. My joints feel arthritic. My gut slows down and I can be riddled with constipation and gas. My breath is awful. And if it’s really bad, my back will ache. And all of this can be avoided by the simple act of staying hydrated.
Up to 60% of our bodies are made of water, and water covers around 71% of our Earth’s surface. So it comes as no surprise that our body rhythms are literally tied to the tide, and that hydration is key to maintaining health, especially when you’re over 40!
When you get enough water, your skin feels smooth, soft, and supple rather than itchy and dry. The skin around your eyes and lips plump up and you see less wrinkles and lines. That fuller, firmer, and more natural look is the same effect that water has on your skin. Likewise, when you think of a dried out sponge, that’s not exactly the face you want to present, is it?
As we approach perimenopause and menopause, our brains need water more than ever to help us stay sharp and focused. Water helps control hormone regulation (unregulated hormones being anathema to all of us over 40), and if you suffer from hot flashes, you have to remember that water is important in regulating body temperature, too.
And speaking of menopause, how’s your digestion? We’ve all had the experience of constipation due to hormones running amok…staying hydrated helps stave off the worst of it, and helps lubricate your digestive system so that you poop on a daily basis.
Let’s talk about joints. If you’ve got achy knees and hips, you can do nothing better for yourself than drinking enough water each day. The cushioning and lubricating actions of water will help reduce that pain and discomfort and in some cases, you’ll see it disappear completely.
Staying hydrated helps you lose weight, too! Drinking enough helps reduce sodium levels in your body. Lower sodium levels mean less fluid retention, and a lower number on that scale we have the love/hate relationship with. Drinking water also works to help you stay fuller longer, so you’ll eat less.
And did you know that as we age, we feel less thirsty? Even though we still need the same amount of water that we did when we were younger, the receptors that allow us to feel thirst become less sensitive and don’t work as well as they once did. This is why it’s super important to monitor the amount of water you drink to make sure you’re drinking enough daily. But, what is “enough”?
On average, a woman needs about two liters of water a day, and that’s being conservative. Do you exercise daily? Do you live in a warm climate where you’re sweating a lot? If so, you may well need more than just two liters.
So, how do you make sure that you’re drinking all the water you need? Well, adding a lemon, lime, or orange wedge for a bit of flavor works wonders, or for more variety (and if you crave the mouth feel of carbonation), try flavored seltzer water.
And here are a couple of additional tips to help you stay hydrated with great results:
1. Upon waking, drink at least one full 8-ounce glass of clear water. This will give a jump-start to both your brain and your digestive system right at the beginning of each day.
2. Stop drinking water about one hour before bedtime if you want to avoid having to get up multiple times during the night to visit the restroom.
3. Some find it helpful to fill a glass carafe or other container with their full daily requirement of water at the beginning of the day, and put it in the refrigerator. Then, just drink until it’s empty.
This is a physical and spiritual health insurance policy you can’t afford not to embrace. There is no doubt in my mind that staying well-hydrated is one of the keys to my own healthy living, love of life, and lightness of spirit. Keep that star-spangled-sparkle in your own eye by making sure you’re getting your share of water each and every beautiful day!