Article – Emotional Dysregulation and Dehydration

Did you know that not drinking enough water might be connected to feeling anxious or struggling with your emotions?

Check out these interesting things to understand how they’re linked:

  • Anxiety and Thirst: When you’re anxious, your body can react in ways that make you sweat and feel jittery. This can make you lose water from your body, and that might make you feel even more anxious. It’s like a cycle where not drinking enough water and anxiety can team up to make you feel not so great.
  • Emotions and Hydration: If your emotions sometimes feel like they’re all over the place, you might forget about drinking water. But here’s the thing: water is like a helper for your brain. When you’re not hydrated enough, your brain might have a tougher time handling emotions. It’s like trying to drive a car without enough petrol!
  • Brain Balance: Your brain relies on water to keep everything in balance. If you’re not getting enough water, it can mess with your brain’s ability to manage stress. This might make you feel even more anxious or upset.

Here are some tips on how to help them stay hydrated:

  • Drink Water Regularly: Just as children need regular meals, their bodies also require water throughout the day. Encourage them to take small sips of water at different times, even if they don’t feel thirsty.  If your child struggles to recognise internal cues, this step is important.
  • Listen to Your Body: Sometimes our bodies send us signals that we’re thirsty. Help children understand signs like a dry mouth or feeling a bit tired. These are cues that their bodies are asking for water.
  • Start the Day with Water: Beginning the day with a glass of water can help children feel refreshed and prepared for the day ahead.
  • Carry a Water Bottle: Having a special water bottle can make drinking water exciting. Children can bring it along wherever they go and take sips whenever they want.  Avoid adding sugar in the form of cordials to this, as that causes gut imbalances, which in turn impact on emotional regulation.  So, the child may be hydrated – yet dysregulated, due to gut problems.
  • Use Reminders: Children might struggle with remembering things, so setting up reminders on their devices can prompt them to drink water. These reminders act like friendly nudges to encourage sipping.
  • Choose Hydrating Foods:  Some foods are naturally high in water content, such as watermelon, cucumbers, oranges, berries, and celery. Encourage children to enjoy these foods as snacks to support their hydration.  You can also create great ice-pops with these.  However, avoid making these into smoothies – as that has a huge amount of sugar in one go.  They look great, taste great – but are not good for the system.
  • Maintain Electrolyte Balance: Our bodies need electrolytes to function properly. Foods with a small amount of salt, like Celtic Sea salt, can help.
  • Stay Hydrated During Play:  Children might not notice their thirst while playing or being active. Remind them to take water breaks during playtime to keep hydrated.
  • Pay Attention to Urine Colour:  Teach children that light yellow urine means they’re drinking enough water. Darker urine might indicate they need more hydration.  You can use the colour chart below to help you with this.
  • Avoid Excessive Drinking:  While drinking water is essential, consuming too much at once can be harmful. Encourage children to listen to their bodies and avoid drinking too much water rapidly.


NHS Inform

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