Water you waiting for?

Written by Olivia Lyons 12 months ago.

With an increasing focus on our health and wellbeing, several of our colleagues have turned their attention to the massively undocumented topic of dehydration.

It may have passed you by without you noticing, but March saw National Hydration Week return to our calendars. National Hydration week, what is it? Well, it’s a reminder of just how important water is for our health & wellbeing. And surprisingly, a recent survey from GP’s indicated that as much as 1 in 5 Doctor’s appointments are actually just down to people being dehydrated.

We’re made up of roughly 65% water, and staying hydrated is a fundamental element of optimal health. It’s a common misconception that the sensation of thirst tells us when we are about to become dehydrated but in fact, we’re already there.

Several bodily functions suffer without sufficient water intake. Our circulation, metabolism, regulation of body temperature and detoxification processes are among the first to slow down, leaving us feeling exhausted, despondent and weak.

Our Health & Wellbeing committee are always looking for new ways for us to improve our comfort, health and happiness, both in work and at home. They aim to alert people to the numerous ways in which we can improve our mental and physical health, and encourage us to get us involved in related events and activities.

Diving in at the deep end

After a great deal of research, one of our Resourcing Consultants and Health & Wellbeing champions, Debbie Bradbury wanted to raise awareness of the various benefits of drinking enough water… and so the RBS Hydration Challenge was born.

The premise of the challenge was not only to stay hydrated by drinking 8 glasses of fluid throughout the day, but also to educate and alert people to the dangers of dehydration. When we feel thirsty, we often opt for drinks that actually do more harm than good. A popular go to are drinks that contain caffeine, and although we may think we have control of our intake by staying below 2 or 3 cups of tea or coffee a day, a lot of people are unaware of the amount of caffeine in soft drinks. Caffeine, like alcohol is a diuretic, and we can easily exceed the recommended consumption without even noticing, contributing to dehydration. Thirst is also frequently confused for hunger and we often turn to food when our bodies are actually craving water.

All aboard

The idea was sent out to various teams across the department, outlining the various health benefits. Team Managers would then provide weekly updates on everyone’s progress, encouraging more people to take part. Debbie found it easier than she’d expected to get people involved but was surprised by the variety of motives.

‘Quite a few people knew they didn’t drink enough water and welcomed the challenge. Others were attracted by the prospect of weight loss or controlling mood swings and quite a few people tied it in with the Global Corporate Challenge. This was ideal as the extra water was even more needed to coincide with their increase in physical activity. We send out statistics, research and evidence of all the health benefits and it was reported back that before reading it, several people hadn’t previously connected the dots that their lack of focus and concentration in the afternoons was due to dehydration.

Staying afloat

There were more than 75 people taking part in the challenge and the majority downloaded an app onto their phone that helped them keep track of how much water they were drinking but Debbie recalls that reminders weren’t that necessary.

‘It became such a talking point that we’d never forget to drink. Instead of getting the usual tea and coffee orders for the drinks machine, each of us on the team would automatically get a round of waters in, so there was always one in front of us.’

Many of the teams taking part in the challenge also took part in the ‘Water Taste Test’. This involved tasting shop bought bottled water, tap water and water dispensed from the cooler. The majority of people chose the tap water as their favourite which helped to eliminate cost as an excuse for not drinking enough.

I drink, therefore I am

The improvement in both physical and mental performance was apparent almost immediately to those taking part. Everyone involved would share their success stories, tips and advice, recommending various herbal teas and low sugar flavoured waters for those who were struggling. Debbie recalls how important and encouraging this support network was to the challenge.

‘Everyone had such positive feedback about how they were starting to feel. People were commenting on how much more energy they had, how much weight they’d lost, how much better their skin looked and how they were generally more cheerful. This was really inspiring and spurred us all on.’

Hydration is just one of many aspects of health and wellbeing that we’re focussing on along with nutrition, mindfulness and the importance of a healthy work/life balance.

Read about the different ways we’re encouraging our colleagues to make healthier lifestyle choices.

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