If you’re feeling stressed out, you might find yourself reaching more often for water or drinking sufficiently but still feel parched and tired. It’s not in your head—mental fatigue can actually lead to more physical stress on the body and drain it of energy stores too.
That’s why keeping stress and cortisol levels (a.k.a. the stress hormone) low is smart, and stress-busting activities that boost endorphins (feel-good hormones!) like exercise, walking in the outdoors, dancing, yoga, journaling and meditation can help when integrated into a daily regimen.
And if you are drinking a lot of water and eating electrolytes through food intake, you might not immediately make the connection and understand why you can’t seem to quench your thirst or why your urine is so yellow. (You might also feel the urge to urinate more frequently too, so keep that in mind as another red flag of stress related dehydration.) Here’s what’s going on.
Adrenal Glands Increase Hormone Production
The adrenal glands, which are part of the endocrine system, feel the pressure too, when your mind starts racing and you get stressed. The adrenal glands produce a few hormones, and they activate and produce more of those “fight or flight” stress hormones in response—this is where the link between mind and body happens as well as how your hydration levels change. The adrenals produce aldosterone, adrenaline, and noradrenaline.
You’re Losing Fluids and Urinating Too Quickly
When hormones in response to stress surge and get whacky, they throw the body off balance and put pressure on the bladder, which is why you begin to lose fluids faster and may find yourself heading to the bathroom more often than usual. (Thus further promoting water loss and dehydration—it’s a cycle.)
When you're experiencing larger amounts of stress, especially if for a long time, eventually your adrenals will start to become too fatigued to function well, which is known as adrenal fatigue disorder indicating adrenal insufficiency. Aldosterone levels end up dipping too low, which creates dehydration and an electrolyte imbalance.
It Might Become Chronic Too if Not Treated
When this body state persists, with symptoms of adrenal fatigue becoming more regular over time or even becoming a daily occurrence, severe and chronic dehydration along with low electrolyte levels can be dangerous for your health.
Plus, it’ll be harder to treat the stress that’s causing dehydration too, since feelings of dehydration and loss in electrolytes—meaning there’s a loss in energy, cognitive thinking and motivation too—will only exacerbate the anxiety or sadness.
How to Fight Stress and Boost Hydration
Focusing on ways to improve self-care and lower anxiety as well as drinking ample fluids and water in the day is the easiest way to prevent stress-related dehydration from popping up.
For example, you can work your brain and have some fun with a puzzle book, especially if it’s also focused on self-improvement and relaxation. (Self-love Games & Activities might be a good option, as a workout that’s dedicated towards working the brain and having some fun, while also boosting self-esteem and confidence to best achieve life goals.)
Other self-care hobbies and habits can be useful tools for managing anxiety and promoting feelings of calmness, so your mind and body can relax quickly when exposed to stress and can manage it better in general. Chronic stress can lead to chronic dehydration, which isn’t good for your health and heart and can become problematic as you get older, as it raises your risk of heart disease and other circulatory conditions.
Plus, prioritizing self-care and stress-busting activities can also lead to fewer muscle cramps and spasms, which are often associated with low hydration levels and can be used as an indicator that it’s time to calm down and drink up. If you’re feeling tight in your muscles, or if you experience spasms, pain, poor circulation or swelling, consider your symptoms and dehydrated, dry mouth to be a result of elevated stress—a sneaky but actually incredibly common culprit.