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Hacking the Heat Waves

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By Natalie Stamper, Psy.D

Most of us are not at our best in uncomfortably hot weather. We tend to feel more irritable, tired, or restless. And no one would blame us — the heat can be truly unbearable.

Studies have revealed the psychology of how heat can affect our mood, for better or worse. According to Psych Central, heat waves have been found to increase depression and aggression, and humidity lowers concentration and energy (Grohol). With summer on its way, let’s be mindful of ways to be mentally healthy in the heat.

Here are some simple actions we can take to cope with hot weather: 

Notice your feelings.

Take a moment to think about how temperatures affect your mood (Nyamora). Pay attention to how you are feeling. Do not ignore your feelings, especially when it’s hot out.

Catch yourself before you act.

Half the battle is catching yourself when you feel your mood is being affected by the weather. Take a moment to pause and take some deep breaths. If you can stop yourself before acting out and saying or doing something you might regret, you will feel better in the long run.

Practice self care.

Stay hydrated, in air conditioning, and out of the heat as much as possible. 

Plan your day around the heat waves.

If you know the weather is going to be hot, run errands and exercise when it’s cooler.

Remember to be mindful of your needs and attitude all year round, but be especially careful when it’s hot. It takes little effort to ensure you are doing your best to remain healthy and positive, even when nature gets in the way. On the positive side, hot weather can make swimming and indoor activities feel even nicer! It doesn’t take much to make the best of the summer heat.


References

Grohol, John M. “The Psychology of a Heat Wave.” World of Psychology, Psych Central, 8 July 2018, https://psychcentral.com/blog/the-psychology-of-a-heat-wave/.

Nyamora, Cory. “How Does Hot Weather Affect Your Mental Health? – Endurance: A Sports and Psychology Center.” Endurance, Endurance: A Sports and Psychology Center, 14 Aug. 2019, https://www.endurancecenter.org/join-us-at-this-years-5thannual-svpa-student-research-conference/2019/8/14/how-does-hot-weather-affect-your-mental-health.

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