Warm weather is so rare in the UK that when we finally do get sunny days, suddenly the whole world seems to be smiling.
With the air so uncomfortably hot, emotions are running as high as the thermostat, meaning we’re more likely to lash out at each other.
Psychologist Kirsty Leah from mental health support platform SupportRoom says that while warm weather tends to make us happier, sweltering heat is linked to greater irritability for a range of reasons.
“Hotter weather has a particularly bad impact on our sleep, making it difficult to nod off or get enough quality sleep as we struggle to cool down,” Leah says.
“This then sets a bad precedent for our day, with our brains not able to deal with emotional regulation and problem-solving as effectively due to a lack of restorative rest.”
Dehydration does us no favours either. Losing just 2% of the body’s water can make us struggle with taking on tasks that require mental and physical attention and coordination. This can amplify our emotionsas we become increasingly frustrated with our inability to focus or work effectively, research has found.
“If we get too hot we can also begin to suffer the effects ofheatstroke, which can increase feelings of confusion and agitation,” Leah says.
“As well as make us feel physically nauseous or fatigued, further contributing to our feelings of discomfort and amping up our irritability.”
How to stay cool and calm during a heatwave
Leah has the following basic tips for the next few days at home and work:
Make life easier – Avoid the high afternoon heat, stay hydrated, and invest in lighter sheets or a fan to navigate the hotter days and nights with more ease and calm.
Try to be patient – You might feel more ready to snap out at others but remember that if you are feeling it, others will be, too, so try to be extra patient and lower your expectations of people until things are cooler.
Postpone meetings – When it gets hot, people will be working with a shorter fuse than usual. So whether it’s an important conversation or a routine check-in, consider holding back on work and social meetings until the heat subsides.
Avoid big decisions – You might be prone to making rash calls if struggling in the heat, but it’s important not make any big decisions until you are well-rested and can focus on the situation in hand and make an informed choice.
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