How Hydration Is Affecting Your Focus (Or Lack Of It)

We’ve all been in a situation before where our brain just didn’t seem to work as well as we wanted it to. Either we can’t focus on the task at hand or we just can’t process our thoughts properly.

Cognitive performance doesn’t just relate to intelligence and problem solving, it also relates to emotional stability. Often we can’t concentrate simply because our emotions are all over the place. One moment we might feel happy and then the smallest thing can set us off for reasons that we don’t know.

Hydration plays a massive role in the health and function of our brain, far beyond what most people think. It may sound silly, but often all we need is a tall glass of water to help push through that mental fog into clarity.

Yet, sometimes it can result in something much, much worse like adult ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder), which the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) characterizes as “inattention, hyperactivity, impulsiveness, or a combination” of all three. Around 60% of children with ADHD in the United States end up carrying this through to adulthood, meaning that around 4% of adults (8 million) have serious attention difficulties.

Symptoms of adult ADHD include, but aren’t limited to, a struggle to focus, an inability to be organized, and general restlessness. ADHD can cause people to have difficulty listening to instructions or remembering details about events, which can eventually cause a breakdown in relationships and trouble with tasks at work or school. In turn, this can cause further mental problems, social issues and financial costs as your brain isn’t efficiently processing your thoughts or the world around you.

Now, when it comes to improving your mind, you sometimes have to start from scratch. Much like a house with structural issues, you have to knock down what’s there in order to rebuild it to become bigger and stronger.

You can think of the brain as a muscle. When you first get into exercise, you don’t really know what you’re doing. Sure, you might vaguely know how to run and a few common sense exercises, but it’s not until you get someone to teach you that you properly know how to use your body effectively and efficiently. Just as a muscle needs to get broken down in order to be rebuilt, the same goes for your mind.

You need to work out what the problem is and then put in the time and effort to get it sorted. At the start, it may seem like a daunting and stressful task, but over time it’ll become a lot easier and the answers will be clearer.

ADHD can affect different people in different ways and cause a variety of other mental difficulties. Those with ADHD are more likely to develop anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder. In fact, around 50% of adults with ADHD also suffer from anxiety disorder, furthering the inability of the individual to properly function.

This all comes down to problems focusing and struggles with having a restful mind. Essentially, it’s like your brain is constantly moving from one thing to another like a fidgeting monkey. It wants everything and nothing at the same time and is constantly on the lookout for the next thing that needs attention.

In order to properly diagnose ADHD, you have to undergo a clinical evaluation from a medical professional who will discuss your personal history and symptoms as well as issue various mental tests. The ADAA suggest asking yourself the following questions:

·     Do your feelings and behavior show that you have problems with attention and hyperactivity?

·     Do you have a hard time keeping your temper or staying in a good mood?

·     Do these problems happen to you at work and at home?

·     Do family members and friends see that you have these problems?

·     Have you had these problems since you were a child?

·     Do you have any physical or mental health problems that might affect your behavior?

Treatment of ADHD has dramatically improved in recent years thanks to the interest and advancement of medication. The right combination of stimulants and nonstimulants can reduce the symptoms of ADHD to help improve attention and concentration.

In addition, it’s also important to get some form of behavioral, psychological, and educational therapy to sort out the underlying problem. Medication is fantastic and can sometimes work as a long-term solution, but it’s also helpful to think of it like a crutch. For instance, if you break your leg, then you’re not just going to hobble round without any help, you’re going to use a crutch whilst also doing some form of exercise and physical therapy to get your leg back to where it was. Medication is that crutch whilst mental therapy is the movements and exercises. If you’d like to know more about this, you can find some helpful resources at CHADD (Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder).

Obviously, medication and therapy can be quite costly both financially and with your time. If you’re someone with a busy schedule, having to take time out of it to go to therapy can really get in the way of things and make you more stressed. Also, the costs of medication are only increasing, which can be an issue if you’re already having troubles with work because of your ADHD. It really is a catch 22.

One study published in 2009 used volunteers from men’s and women’s lacrosse teams to look at the relationship between dehydration and cognitive performance, concluding that “mood may be more sensitive to fluid balance.” Another study, published five years earlier in 2009, found that “lower hydration status was related to slowed psychomotor processing speed and poorer attention/memory performance.” This is incredibly important as most people don’t drink enough water as it is but also drink an abundance of dehydrating items such as coffee and alcohol.

Anxiety and other mental disorders are so heavily linked to ADHD because of the situations that present themselves when you have troubles focusing. As well as this, having mental issues combined with ADHD can make the recovery process far more difficult. If left unaddressed, mental issues can slowly cumulate, which is why it’s important to acknowledge any issues immediately to get help as soon as possible. Usually the quickest fix is with medication, but not everyone wants to go down this route, nor is it always the best option.

Similarly to how diet has an extreme effect upon your mental and physical health, so does hydration. Simply switching up your eating and drinking habits can have a profound effect on how your mind and body perform each and every day. If you have severe anxiety and fatigue, then it’s more than likely that dehydration isn’t the sole cause. Yet, if you keep feeling panicky or anxious for no reason and it comes out of nowhere, then monitoring your water intake could be the answer to your problems. After all, your brain is made up of 85% water so any decline in this can cause a severe impact on how you feel emotionally.

Just a quick look at the literature is enough to see how dramatically hydration levels can impact your brain. Alongside the studies we’ve already seen, Maughan published a study in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2003 stating that there was already a link between “a low habitual fluid intake and some cancers, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.” The paper then goes on to state that, “even short periods of fluid restriction” can lead to “A loss of body mass of 1-2%” as well as “reductions in the subjective perception of alertness and ability to concentrate and to increases in self-reported tiredness and headaches.” Furthering on from this, Riebl and Davy stated in 2013 that, “mild dehydration may impair cognitive performance,” such as concentration, vigilance, memory and critical thinking.

As well as hydration, some helpful methods for reducing ADHD and anxiety can be to manage other lifestyle factors such as sleep, stress, and diet. Simply acknowledging your current mental state is the first step in getting help and beginning down the road to success. You can’t get to where you want to go without first knowing where you are.

Exercise can be a good way to direct this energy into something positive. However, it’s also important to take extra care with your hydration on the days when you do exercise. Many of the studies that have found a link between hydration, cognition, and mental performance have been performed on athletes as they focus too much on their exercise rather than their recovery.

As well as this, it’s also important to practice some form of meditation and breathing practice to keep your mind at bay. Meditation forces you to look introspectively and acknowledge what’s going on in your mind. Often we try to block out or push down the mental troubles we face, but all this does is stress us out more. What we need to do is address the problems and work out a solution to combat them. Consistently just trying to distract ourselves only exacerbates the problem. Meditation forces you to sit alone with your thoughts, work out what’s exactly going on, why the issues are there, and provides you the tools to get through it.

Another good idea is to keep some form of journal in which you can express your thoughts without fear or judgement. Sometimes we want to keep what’s going on just to ourselves, but this can make us feel trapped, unable to escape the damaging cycle of thoughts constantly whirling around our head. Writing our thoughts down onto paper allows us to be expressive and releases the thoughts from our head, making us feel calmer and more content.

So, at the end of the day, there are four things you need to keep on top of for a happy, healthy mind: stress, sleep, diet, and hydration. Putting them into just four categories simplifies things and makes your outlook much more manageable. Because of everything we’ve mentioned above, we created Hyburst to improve both your mental and physical performance with one simple product. Everything’s 100% clean and natural, providing only the things your body needs to promote an overall sense of energy and wellbeing. Don’t believe us? Try it today and we guarantee you’ll feel an instant difference.

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