In a nonstop world it can be tough to maintain a consistent feeling of physical, emotional, and mental well-being. It is very easy to become worn down, stressed, and exhausted. None of us are at our best when that is what we’re experiencing.
I’m not a doctor, but I want to share two simple but very powerful things that I have found keep me feeling and performing my best.
The first is sleep. There is very little that you can do that will impact your well-being more than sleep. The benefits of sleep are numerous, from higher resistance to illness to increased cognition. The detriments that lack of sleep bring range from irritability and grogginess to headaches and beyond. It seems like there is constantly new research coming out on the benefits of good sleep.
You may be asking how, with all you’ve got to get done, you can get to bed any earlier? The simple fact is, the less sleep you get the less efficiently your body and brain work. So you work slower with less sleep, which means you have to be up later to get everything done, which means you get less sleep, etc. It’s a vicious cycle.
Make sleep the priority. One of the best things I ever did for myself in college was to set and keep a bedtime. It didn’t matter what papers needed writing or tests were coming up, I went to bed by ten at the latest. You might think that this lead to some work getting done late, or not done at all. The thing is, I never turned in a late paper or went into a test feeling unprepared. I discovered that whatever work needed to get done I could do better and faster in the morning. When I prioritized sleep, everything fell into place. Getting enough sleep also left me feeling rested and refreshed instead of stressed and exhausted.
The second simple thing you can do to stay at your best is to keep hydrated. The human body is about 60% water, and your brain itself is about 75% water. Water is used by your body in many ways. It helps the body get the nutrition it needs from food, regulate temperature, and helps concentration.
Without hydration the body struggles to perform even the most basic functions. For example, without enough water your blood volume decreases and your heart has to pump harder to maintain circulation. You don’t consciously feel it, but that extra work takes its toll on your energy level and overall feeling of well-being.
Hydration also affects mental performance. As mentioned above, the brain is mostly water. Things as simple as basic arithmetic become harder with a dehydrated brain. Concentration is also compromised by a dehydrated brain.
Most of us have the blessing of abundant water. We have stores that sell it bottled, drinking fountains or water coolers in offices and schools, and of course the tap. There is no excuse not to drink water. When you consider how much you stand to gain from the simple act of getting a glass of water, it becomes plain silly not to.
There is of course more you can do to keep at your best, but sleep and hydration are two small things that we can all do to make a big difference.