As the temperatures rise during the summer months, it’s not uncommon to feel a little overwhelmed, irritable or lethargic, some experts even believe that the heat can have an effect on your mental health. Here we will explore the various ways heat can affect your mental and physical wellbeing.
The Science Behind Heat and Mental Health
The science behind why hot weather can impact our mental health is quite simple. When the temperature rises, our body works harder to regulate our internal temperature by sweating, which in turn leads to dehydration. When dehydration sets in, it can lead to headaches and fatigue, which can all contribute to feelings of irritability and agitation.
Effect on Mood
Being uncomfortable for long periods of time due to the heat can lead to feelings of irritability and can exacerbate symptoms of stress and anxiety. Hot temperatures are also known to lower our serotonin levels, which can affect our mood and lead to feelings of depression.
Effect on Sleep
Hot weather can also affect our sleep patterns. Being too hot at night can make it difficult to fall asleep, stay asleep and improve the quality of our sleep. Frequent disruptions to our sleep can lead to irritability, fatigue and poor mental health.
Effect on Cognitive Function
Studies have shown that heat can have a negative impact on our cognitive function, such as our ability to concentrate and remember things. When we’re too hot, our brain has to work harder to regulate our body temperature, leaving less energy for other cognitive processes.
Ways to Stay Cool in Hot Weather
While hot weather can be unpleasant, there are things we can do to stay comfortable and protect our mental health during the summer months.
It’s essential to drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration. Not only can dehydration lead to feelings of irritability, but it can also impact your cognitive function and physical wellbeing.
Avoid the Midday Sun
If possible, it’s best to avoid being outside in the hottest part of the day. If you do need to be outside, wear sunscreen, a hat and light clothing.
Stay in Air-Conditioned Areas
If you have access to air conditioning, make use of it. If you don’t have air conditioning at home, consider visiting public places with air conditioning, such as libraries or shopping centers.
Take a Cool Shower
A cool shower can help lower your body temperature and leave you feeling refreshed and comfortable.
While heat can impact our wellbeing, there are other factors to consider that can contribute to poor mental health during the summer months.
Summer holidays and long periods away from school or work can lead to feelings of loneliness and isolation, which can impact our mental health. Taking the time to socialize with friends and family can help combat these feelings and maintain a strong support system.
Summer vacations and increased energy bills from air conditioning can add financial stress, which can impact our overall wellbeing. Creating a budget and sticking to it can help alleviate some of these financial pressures.
Increased Pressure to be Active
Summer often comes with the expectation of being more active and engaging in outdoor activities. While this can have a positive impact on our mental health, excessive pressure to be active can lead to burnout and exacerbate feelings of stress and anxiety. Remember to listen to your body and don’t push yourself too hard.
- Q: Can hot weather affect my mental health?
- A: Yes, hot weather can lead to feelings of irritability, anxiety, and depression.
- Q: Can hot weather affect my sleep?
- A: Yes, being too hot at night can make it difficult to fall asleep, stay asleep and improve the quality of our sleep.
- Q: How can I stay cool during hot weather?
- A: Stay hydrated, avoid being outside in the hottest part of the day, stay in air-conditioned areas, take a cool shower.
- Q: What are other considerations during the summer months that can impact mental health?
- A: Social isolation, financial stress, and increased pressure to be active are all factors to consider.
While hot weather can impact our mental and physical wellbeing, there are steps we can take to stay comfortable and protect our health during the summer months. By staying hydrated, avoiding the midday sun, and taking cool showers, we can reduce the negative effects of heat on our mental health. Remember to listen to your body and prioritize your wellbeing during the summer months.
- “4 Ways Hot Weather Impacts Your Health” by Carlin Miller, Healthline (https://www.healthline.com/health/hot-weather-health-effects)
- “Heat and Mental Health: Exploring the Relationship” by Marianna Pogosyan, Psychology Today (https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/between-cultures/201807/heat-and-mental-health-exploring-the-relationship)
- “How Summer Affects Your Mental Health”, by Desiree Johnson, WebMD (https://www.webmd.com/balance/features/summer-mental-health)