Beat the Heat for Mental Wellness
Temperatures can affect the mood positively and negatively, depending on the person. Some people love the soaring summer temperatures, but for others seeking solace inside an air-conditioned room is the only way to survive the heat.
There is some evidence that extreme heat can pose dangerous consequences for mental health, especially if a person is managing psychiatric conditions.
What? Yes, heat can affect anyone’s mood, causing irritability, memory decline, decreased reaction time, and sleep deprivation! Additionally, some medications used to treat mental illnesses have strict warnings about heat because they can affect how the body regulates heat. Did you know that overexposure to heat (heat exhaustion) has been associated with a spike in hate speech?
According to a study published, soaring summertime temperatures were associated with increased rates of mood disorders, anxiety, stress and incidents of self-harm.
Why?Extreme temperatures may cause one area of the brain, the hypothalamus, which helps to keep the body’s internal temperature in check to malfunction. This is especially problematic if a person is taking medication for mental health.
- Extreme heat may also negatively affect the memory and attention span
- Extreme heat may also interfere with the gut’s production of serotonin (the happy hormone), which regulates mood
- Extreme heat is much harder to tolerate if you are tired, and when heat strikes, our sleep suffers. If the body cannot cool down at night, sleep is often disrupted, and the sleep-wake patterns can affect the intensity of mood the next day.
- Extreme heat also leads to dehydration for most people. Dehydration can impair cognitive function and even the effectiveness of some medications.
Beat the Heat for Mental Wellness
Keep Rooms in the house as cool as possible- We all love the sun streaming through our windows, but during the hottest days of the year, keep shades drawn where the direct sun is coming in to help keep a room cooler.
Take cool showers or splash cool water on your face and upper body to decrease body temperatures. We love to keep ready-to-use toilettes (wipes) in the fridge to use when body temperatures need a quick cool down.
Keep hydrated; if you think you have consumed enough water, think again. Sweating is the body’s natural way to cool your internal temperature, but if you are dehydrated, this mechanism is impaired.
Most people do not consume the daily requirements for water intake, and during extreme heat, the body’s requirements for hydration increase.
Find fun ways to keep hydrated by drinking flavoured water. Either add fruits to the water (infused) or add powdered supplements such as electrolytes or vitamin C to your water. These supplements make water taste yummy and can help replenish sodium and minerals lost due to increased sweating.
Freezing your flavoured water into popsicles is an excellent way for those that struggle to consume enough water. Just make sure not to infuse your waters with high-sugar additives.
East more foods with higher water content, such as oranges, grapefruits, melons (especially watermelon), celery, cucumbers, tomatoes, and lettuce!
Consider taking a probiotic! You may not have considered taking a probiotic for soaring temperatures. However, good gut health is essential for the digestion and absorption of food and nutrients from your food- including water!
Give yourself a break! Outdoor chores and daily exercise routines need to take a back seat when it comes to keeping the body cool and your mental health. Opt for inside projects or use the opportunity to visit places, family, and friends indoors when temperatures are soaring.
Slow Down! We are often rushing to get from one place to another, to get things down etc. A heat wave gives you permission to slow down. The increase in heat can cause your heart to work harder to keep up with the demands of the body’s natural cooling system, so don’t increase its work requirements by rushing to do anything!
Remind yourself that this will pass! We cannot control the weather. We can only control how we react to it. The amazing thing about the weather is that it never stays the same. The heat may feel oppressive, but it will pass, and the temperatures will come back down