This is by no means a heroic journey, I’m aware of that. Hydration shouldn’t be hard: eight glasses of water a day – sounds pretty simple, right? It comes out of the tap, ready to drink, right there in your kitchen. You don’t even have to leave the house for it.
It should feel miraculous, if you think about it in a historical and global context – all this available water, but its abundance works against it. After all, when choosing what to drink, the taste of water doesn’t quite compare with the bite of a short, sharp coffee, or the sugary funk of pineapple juice.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against water – that would be ridiculous, like being against land or air. I love to mix it with rose oil and bathe in it. I swim in it. I get mesmerised by fountains. I even enjoy drinking it most of the time.
Water, when I have enough of it, makes me feel more fluid. My thoughts flow. My skin is plumped up and glows. My eyes are less tired. My online yoga class is easier and, without sounding like a yoghurt advert evangelist, digesting food is easier too. And this personal experience is backed up by medical advice: staying hydrated improves everything from concentration to kidney function. We’re better, all around, with water and we all know that.
The problem I have is that I’m easily distracted, which leads to me not drinking enough water throughout the day. Every time I make the conscious effort to hydrate myself, something gets in the way. It might sound ridiculous to you, but it’s true. Even working from home, a measly 15 steps from the kitchen sink, I get caught up in something else – the news, social media, a message from a friend, something interesting on the radio. In non-Covid times, the distractions were even greater.
So I finally made the decision that in order to drink more, I’d have to make a very conscious effort to make drinking a part of my daily routine. I started putting a pint glass on the kitchen counter before going to bed. In the morning, I fill it up and drink it while waiting for the kettle to boil. One pint down without even thinking about it – win! I also keep my water bottle in my bicycle basket now. Even if I’m not cycling, the size of my flat means my bike functions as a hallway table and the bottle sits by my keys, purse and gloves. It’s no longer a kitchen object, it’s a leaving-the-house object.
There are times, however, when I still need more – and my skin is the first to tell me. As I get older, hangovers increasingly leave me looking like a dried apricot. Coming in from a cold, windy walk to the central heating pinches my face. Some years ago, I discovered hyaluronic acid. It’s a substance we produce in our bodies, found mostly in our skin, eyes and connective tissues, and its main function is to draw and hold water. It’s a key ingredient in Vichy’s Minéral 89 Serum and designed for daily use. But the Minéral 89 Serum also works wonders for when the skin needs an extra boost: when you’ve spent too long in the sun, or when you’re red-faced post-exercise. When my body needs more hydration than I’ve given it, this serum means that at least it won’t show on my skin.
One of the main issues I have with drinking the recommended amount is the fact that I have been told so often to drink more water – usually by a strangely serene person on Instagram or a magazine page – and that it has turned into a chore. There’s something to be said about approaching water drinking in the same way as changing the duvet cover or filing a tax return: not bad once you start and you feel better when it’s done.
Adding a mild element of fun to the equation can help too, as I’ve discovered. I now fill a blue glass jug to keep on my desk, with ice and some mint in the summer. For colder days, I fill an old teapot with herbal tea, or slices of ginger to flavour my water. We take our pleasures where we can these days, so using my grandmother’s china or the glass I bought in Venice does give a small lift and certainly makes me drink more.
We all want easy fixes – and luckily they are available: apply the product, get the good china out, put things where you can see them, and marvel at how quickly you can drink it all in.
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*Save 25% valid until 10 February 2021. Headspace offer valid until 16 February 2021 on LookFantastic.com. After your 90 days free trial, the subscription renews automatically at £49.99 for an annual subscription to Headspace Plus. You can cancel at any time. This offer is for new or existing free Headspace users only. Credit card details needed to redeem. Offer can be redeemed until 30 June 2021.