As we soak in fresh raindrops in sweet anticipation of Spring’s colorful blooms, World Water Day reminds us how privileged we are to have plenty of rainfall and safe drinking water.
It’s heartbreaking to know that much of the world today struggles with water scarcity.
Here are some water facts from the United Nations that will make your blood boil:
More than 2 billion people live without safe water at home
One in four primary schools lack safe drinking water (some have no water service at all)
About 4 billion people (almost two-thirds of the world’s population) experience extreme water scarcity during at least one month per year, and up to 700 million people could be displaced by severe water scarcity by 2030
Access to water is truly a matter of life and death.
Even for those who have access to safe water (likely all of you reading this), dehydration is still a significant issue in our bodies and in our communities.
Since our bodies are our instruments, singing well requires healthy habits that also positively impact our non-singing lives. One of the goals of this blog is to share singing-related information that can help both singers and non-singers alike. Water, then, is an obvious topic for discussion.
Water makes up more than half of our body composition and is critical to our health and the overall well-being of our planet.
As singers, our bodies craves H2O almost as much as it does oxygen.
It’s especially important for singers to stay hydrated so that our instruments will function optimally.
If we’re not mindful of our water intake, we will almost always feel it the next day. Without enough water, we tend to feel sluggish and sore. It’s easy to mistake thirst for hunger and our voices can feel hoarse and less resonant. When well hydrated, on the other hand, we not only feel more energetic, but also it feels easier to sing.
As a teacher, I’m constantly reminding my students of all ages to drink more water. As soon as they take a sip, their voices are more responsive and singing becomes less effortful. Water truly is a magical elixir!
Read on to learn how much water your body needs, what kind of water is best to drink and how to track your intake.
Drink up, lovelies - your body will thank you!
How much water should you drink?
There are a variety of factors that contribute to your hydration needs. While it is possible to over-hydrate, in general, most people are grossly dehydrated.
The old adage says to drink eight glasses of water per day. Technically it means eight cups, but, for most people, eight glasses of any size would be a vast improvement.
If you want to take it a step further and truly stay hydrated, today’s nutrition guidelines suggest three quarters of your body weight in ounces of water. If you weigh 120 lbs., for example, then drink 90 oz. of water.
Since I am a singer, not a doctor, please know that all of this information is from my own personal experience and in no way is meant to serve as medical advice.
Here are some situations in which you’ll want to pay extra special attention to your hydration needs and plan to drink more water than usual:
After drinking caffeine, alcohol or sugary beverages
In cold and dry weather
In hot weather that makes you sweat
In dry indoor environments (especially if you have a radiator or air conditioning running)
After a massage
During times of hormonal changes
During periods of illness
Tap or bottled?
If you’re fortunate enough to live in an area with clean tap-water (thank you, NYC!), help out the environment and drink as much tap water as possible.
I used to drink bottled water religiously, but then my dentist suggested I switch to tap water because the fluoride is good for your teeth. While I have a filter on my faucet, to be honest, I rarely turn it on.
Ideally, we want to be drinking alkaline water to neutralize the body’s pH level. So much of our food tends to be acidic, and too much acid can wreak havoc with our internal system - from our gut health to our teeth.
Have you seen this video that tests the pH levels of various water brands? This video shows where popular water brands fall on the spectrum of acid-to-alkaline. There are many more videos on YouTube. Do a search for your favorite brand, if you’re curious!
What if you don’t like the taste?
While I adore the taste of water, it’s true that some people don’t love it as much. If you need more flavor in your beverages, try the following:
Add fruit or herbs to your water
Drink sparkling water
Sip decaffeinated tea
Eat water-rich foods, such as watermelon, cucumber, grapes and celery (you’ll still need to drink water, though)
How do you manage all that water?
So now that you know how much water you need and what kind of water to drink, it’s time to create a tracking system to hold yourself accountable.
These are some of my favorite methods to ensure that you’re drinking enough on the daily:
Paper Planner - If you already use a paper planner, here’s a really simple method of tracking your water intake: draw eight to twelve check boxes per day and mark them off as you go. (Note: if you don’t already use a paper planner or if you only check it in the morning and evening, you will likely not remember to use it, so I suggest trying some of the other tips.)
Phone Reminders - Set a recurring reminder on your phone or set alarms to go off once every hour to tend to your thirst.
Apple Watch - If you have an Apple watch, stack your habits by drinking a glass of water every time the watch nudges you to stand up.
Tracking App - There are tons of habit tracking apps out there, so do a little shopping and find one what speaks to you. A few years ago, when I realized that I needed to drink more water, it was an app that finally got me on track. Try a water-specific app like My Water or a general habit tracker such as Streaks or Productive.
Reusable Water Bottle - The easiest way I’ve found for adults to get in the hydration ballpark (and what I personally do when being extra mindful) is to purchase a one liter reusable water bottle and to drink it’s entirety three times per day - morning, noon and night. Having a pretty water bottle by your side encourages you to drink as soon as you’re thirsty, and carrying the sleek accessory provides an extra boost of beauty and confidence throughout the day. If you get a smaller bottle, just take note of how many times you’ll need to fill it. Kids tend to drink more water with a person water bottle on hand, too!
And there you have it - your guide to drinking more water!
To summarize all of this in three steps:
Drink three quarters of your body weight in ounces of water
Consume alkaline water as much as possible
Find a water you enjoy
Track with a system that works for you
If you’re one of the millions of people running off of caffeine, adrenaline and a mile-long to-do list, try trading in your coffee for water this week and allow some of these tips to support you on your journey.
When your skin is glowing, your muscles are relaxed, your energy is buoyant and your voice is free, water will feel like your new best friend.
Let me know how it goes in the comments below. I’m here to cheer you on every step of the way!