Health, Self-Care

Water: The Nourishing Art of Hydration

One of the most simple and effective things we can do to support the body is drink an abundance of water. This is a fact that most of us are well aware of yet still seem to regularly bypass or struggle to keep up with. By taking command of our hydration we are actively setting our body up for sustained longevity. It’s helpful to first understand the foundational role water plays in our well-being in order to be inspired to hydrate more consistently. This is the nourishing art of hydration.

Water: The Nourishing Art of Hydration

The first thing to note is that you are mostly made of water. Did you know that the human body is made up of about 70% water? Our blood is 90% water, while each major organ has its own unique water composition. For example the brain is about 73% water, the lungs 83%, muscles and kidneys 79%, and even our bones are 31% water.

Every cell, tissue, and organ in the body is dependent on the presence of water. One can even consider water to be the body’s primary building material. From supporting a healthy digestive system to lubricating our joints for fluid mobility, water plays a major role in virtually all bodily functions. A number of common ailments are a direct result of mild to severe water dehydration. They vary from headaches, dry skin, poor sleep, dizziness, rapid heartbeat, among other symptoms that can be prevented by regularly welcoming more water into the system.

What does water do for you (Source: USGS)

We also age ourselves more rapidly when we are not properly hydrated – inviting fine lines, wrinkles, and loss of skin elasticity. Plump skin is hydrated skin from the inside out.

It’s also important to note that basic functions such as breathing, digesting, and sweating deplete us of water thus requires consistent replenishing. It’s estimated that we lose about one pound of water while we sleep from breathing alone, hence the importance of hydrating first thing upon waking up.

The amount of water recommended for daily consumption varies from person to person. There are multiple factors that can help determine this, such as the climate you live in, how physically active you are, if any illnesses are present, body size, amongst others. With time and practice, you will figure out the amount of water that feels nourishing to you.

5 healthy habits for hydration

Beyond drinking plenty of clean water, we can also receive hydration from water rich foods such as fruits and vegetables. Watermelon, tomatoes, cucumber, zucchini, spinach, and lettuces are a few to name. Not only are you offering your body more water by eating these kinds of foods, but you’re also receiving new minerals and electrolytes which we regularly flush out.

Another thing to note is that it’s common for people to confuse thirst for hunger. Next time you decide you’re hungry, ask yourself, “when was the last time I drank water?” So often our body is simply asking for hydration and we deliver it with something else.

Lastly, aim to drink the best quality of water available to you. Quality water should taste sweet, alive, and mineral rich. As we sink into summer, let us practice the nourishing art of hydration.

By Melissa Aparicio, contributing author

We are all working our way through a changed world as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. We may no longer be quarantined or under stay-at-home orders, but everyone is stretched to adapt like never before.  All of us are in this together. Now more than ever, caring is what we need most. Caring for our self. Caring for others around us in our communities. Life now demands caring, resilience and compassion like never before. This is a great opportunity to create the world we want for our future generations. We invite you to join us in creating a caring movement!

Would you like to read more about UCA caring resources and products? We have other blogs on Unified Caring Association and our products, caring in our communities, and caring the UCA way!

Deep Breathing
Health, Self-Care

Deep Breathing for Self-Care

The greatest personal health tools we have access to today are completely free, and as obvious as the breath. Though the breath is a function that literally keeps us alive, we so often move through the day tuned-out from its behavior. Choosing to become more aware of how we are breathing from one moment to the next is a simple, and effective form of self-care. 

The human body is designed to breathe with fullness. We are equipped with a dome-shaped diaphragm that stretches down to the naval, and is intended to be filled with life giving air – filling this space is what it means to breathe with fullness. 

There are many factors that contribute to breathing against our inherent design – stress, lifestyle, and chronic worrying being at the forefront. Even the thoughts that occur inside the privacy of the mind generate stress responses in the body. It’s during these moments of stress, our breath has a tendency to go shallow. Meaning that instead of breathing into our diaphragm, we unconsciously breathe into the throat and upper chest. This is very stressful to the nervous system, and thus compromising to all other body systems. 

By taking in full breaths, we create an opportunity to invite more oxygen into the body. This in itself is incredibly supportive to our energy levels, our cognition, and longevity. Extensive research also credits deep breathing for boosting immunity, helping to manage pain, and improve circulation. 

Beyond physicality, deep breathing helps regulate our moods and responsiveness. This is because taking full diaphragmatic breaths sends out instructions to the brain to release endorphins, our naturally occurring “feel-good” chemicals. From here, the nervous system is able to operate more fluidly by creating a chemical response in the entire body that ultimately feels like more spaciousness, and less reactivity. 

The next time you find yourself feeling anxious or stressed, take a moment to evaluate how you are breathing. Stress is most often accompanied by shallow breathing, so by catching ourselves in its grasp we can utilize the most readily available tool we have – the breath – to course correct, and self-soothe. 

Here is a simple breath exercise that you can take with you anywhere: 

  • Place one hand over your navel, and take a deep breath in that expands your belly outward. 
  • As you exhale slowly, pull your navel towards your spine.
  • Try to make the exhale slightly longer than the inhale. 
  • Repeat this for 5-10 rounds, and note how this feels in your body.

You can practice this exercise while driving, while you wait in line at the store, or even while watching television. The convenient thing about the breath is that it follows us everywhere, making it a feasible, and wildly accessible tool to practice with.

We are all being called to do extraordinary things for the collective caring of our families, communities and the world in response to the unique coronavirus pandemic. Whether home bound or providing critical services, everyone is stretched to adapt like never before.  All of us are in this together. Now more than ever, caring is what we need most. Caring for our self. Caring for others around us. Life is going to require new routines, resilience and compassion. We invite you to join us in creating a caring movement to respond to local needs.

Would you like to read more about UCA caring resources? We have other blogs on Unified Caring Association, caring in our communities, and caring the UCA way! If you would like caring messages throughout the week, follow us on Pinterest, YouTube, and Twitter!

Article by Melissa Aparicio, contributing author