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Dehydration Anxiety

This post will cover the basics of dehydration related anxiety and hopefully this knowledge will give you more power over this if you are currently affected by it.

It's hard to say for certain that anxiety relating to body nourishment has become more common in recent years as statistics vary depending on the method of collection, but the trend does indicate a rise. A difficulty with measurement is classification as not all anxieties and addictions that people can self-identify with carry a formal diagnosis, such as orthorexia or exercise addiction. Also there is the fact that many people will not see their behaviour as problematic and if they do, they may seek private help (such as a psychotherapist like myself) and so their issue goes unreported to the wider society and organisations of interest (such as NHS, Heath and Care Information Centre). When anxiety strikes in the moment, it is most often accompanied by shallow breathing and hyper-fixation on a real sensation or perceived stressor, so I recommend a technique called box breathing. Close your eyes and whilst breathing in for a count of 4 you imagine drawing the top side of a square, then hold the breath for a count of 4 and visualise drawing the down side of the square. Next, breathe out for a count of 4 and draw the bottom of your square. Lastly, hold your empty lung space for a count of 4 and draw the other side of the square to meet where you started. Repeat until you feel calm again, and if you like, you can increase the counts up to 10 and go back down to 4. By then you should feel utterly relaxed.

This then allows the rational mind to step forward and decide on the next course of action, otherwise you're operating from an irrational state caused by the fear and panic. You can then remind yourself of the facts of the situation, whatever they may be, such as, "I will be able to ask for a glass of water at the meeting or excuse myself to get one if I am thirsty" having these written out and accessible, perhaps on your phone can be a good idea to read through. 

Techniques you can work on at home or with a therapist that are helpful with anxiety are mindfulness meditation as that supports you with strengthening your rational mind, having it appear quicker at moments of emotional duress, and being more tolerant of emotions rather than reacting to them without choice; creating an anchor, and journaling both to keep a log of things that increase and decrease feelings of anxiety and to bring more awareness to the triggers and problem solve ways to work through them or minimise their impact. At lot of individuals who suffer from dehydration anxiety, panic that they are doing their body harm by not drinking e.g. baseline two litres a day, and feel temporary relieved after drinking a lot of water, only for anxiety to rear it’s head 30 minutes later. Dehydration anxiety is a form of OCD. The ways and whys this can develop can be numerous and if an individual wishes to understand that more, they may feel relief from working with a therapist who supports with OCD. It's a combination of working to minimise the feelings of anxiety for that person and arming them with tools and techniques that work for them, and weakening the part of their mind that believes something harmful will occur if they do not drink 2 litres of water a day or become thirsty. In other words, it's strengthening the rational part of them that can cope with uncomfortable feelings and building up an evidence log of instances when they became thirsty or did not drink their specified amount of water, and they were OK. Anxiety relating to health is all too often linked with the need to control something, usually when there has been a prolonged period of feeling a lack of control or autonomy within the person's life and in some people, a fear of their own mortality or physical vulnerability. It can seem simple on the surface to control what goes in the body or how you may use it, such as exercise. Most OCDs like this develop as an attempt to soothe some uncomfortable feeling (in a similar fashion to substance-based misuse and then addiction), we can believe it will help again and then fear or avoid the uncomfortable feelings so much we attempt to prevent them all the time, making engagement with the OCD behaviours increasingly common. 

I hope that this helped you.

Be your true magickal Self,

Sophie xo

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