Some stress symptoms we know all to well: headaches, difficulty concentrating, acne breakouts. But did you know dehydration also has a close relationship to stress?
It all has to do with your adrenal glands. These small glands (found on the top of both kidneys) produce hormones that regulate your immune system, metabolism, and other important functions. One of those hormones is cortisol, which gives you the energy to handle stress or fear, as part of our flight-or-flight instinct.
But what if the pressure from your stress doesn’t let up? Prolonged stress can lead to adrenal fatigue, and your worn-out glands function less than normal, Robert Kominiarek, DO, a board certified family physician in Ohio told health.com. That means they produce fewer hormones, including aldosterone, which regulates fluid and electrolyte levels in the body. When there’s less aldosterone, electrolyte levels drop, and you get dehydrated. Plus, being dehydrated can increase cortisol levels. While increased cortisol levels isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it becomes a problem when your body doesn’t physically respond to its fight-or-flight mechanism. In other words, if cortisol levels increase, and stressed-out you does nothing about it, it will build up and lead to a host of problems, including depression and mental illness. Basically, you’re stuck in a cycle of stress and thirst. (Find out other signs you may be dehydrated.)
So the next time you start feeling overwhelmed, take a breath and take a drink of water. Increasing your fluids can help reduce immediate stress, but if this is a recurring issue, try incorporating these stress-relieving rituals into your life or consider getting professional help.