If the lazy dog days of summer have you down, you are not alone. Hot, humid days make it feel like the world has extra weight. Extreme heat affects our physical and mental health in ways many never consider. Let’s see how the weather impacts our lives and well-being.
Heat and Mental Health
The effects of heat on our physical health are well-known, but many are not aware that heat can have an effect on mental health as well. Those who are taking medications for an emotional or mental condition can be at increased risk for heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Heat sensitivity is a side effect of many of these medications. A recent study found that temperatures of 82°F (28°C) led to increased emergency room visits for mental health related conditions.
It seems like tempers flare as the thermometer rises. Psychologists now agree that heat creates additional stress, and this results in increased anxiety, depression, violence, aggression, drug and alcohol use. It also increases our sleepiness and can sap our energy. Heat also ruins our sleep and after several days this can lower our concentration, energy, and lead to depression.
Where You Live Makes a Difference
Those who live closer to the equator get used to the heat and it does not affect them as much as those from cooler climates. People who live in warmer clients have ways of coping with the heat that those from cooler climates do not. A heat wave in a northern exposure has a greater effect than it does on someone in a tropical paradise.
Tips for Beating the Heat
To beat the heat, try keeping your southern facing window curtains closed. You should also try to minimize your time outside in the hot temperatures. It is a good idea to increase your water intake to 8 to 12 glasses per day. You might also consider installing a ducted reverse cycle air conditioning system that can heat your home in the winter and cool your home in the summer all with one unit.
It is not your imagination, and the heat does have a measurable effect on your physical and mental health. Finding ways to keep cool when Mother Nature turns up the heat should be your first priority. Taking an afternoon siesta in the heat of the day like our equator-living friends may not be such a bad idea after all.
By Hannah Whittenly
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