Have you felt unusually irritable, exhausted, or tempermental over the past few weeks?
The extreme heat may have something to do with it.

Some of our favourite summer activities include being outdoors, but when the weather becomes sweltering, these pastimes suddenly become unappealing. You may have heard the expression “hot-headed” or “my blood is boiling” when referring to being angry or frustrated, and there is evidence to explain why we use such terminology in this context. The chances of negative emotional and behavioural changes occurring when physically heated is increased and felt more intensely when someone has a pre-existing mental illness or health condition. Today, we would like to bring awareness to some of the effects that the hot weather has on our mental health and how we can stay cool throughout the summer months.

IMPACTS OF EXTREME HEAT:

SUICIDE RATES AND MENTAL HEALTH BEDS INCREASE

Late July and August have the highest suicide rates out of all months of the year

SOURCE: CANADIAN MENTAL HEALTH ASSOCIATION

INCREASE IN AGGRESSIVE BEHAVIOUR

The stress of the heat affects the brain.

SOURCE: DR. LEN CORTESE

REDUCTION IN COGNITIVE FUNCTION

Including focus, reaction times, and memory.

SOURCE: PLOS MEDICINE

DIFFICULTY WITH SLEEP

Including insomnia which is triggered by drop in body core temperature.

SOURCE: SCIENCE ADVANCES

COPING TIPS:

TAKE A NAP

When it’s hot, the central nervous system gets depressed, meaning it doesn’t work as hard causing you to feel tired. Mid-day siestas are popular in parts of the world, like Southern Europe and the Mediterranean, to help refresh your body and mind when the day reaches its highest temperatures. These mid-day rests are typically following an afternoon meal which adds to the fatigue.

STAY HYDRATED

Keep a water bottle with you and do not consume alcohol, caffeine, and sugary drinks during intense heat.

EXPLORE DIFFERENT MEDICATIONS

Some medications including anti-depressants and anti-psychotics are associated with an increase in dehydration. Talk to your doctor about potentially exploring other options or what you can do to minimize risk.

AVOID BIG LIFE CHANGES

Anything that may be emotionally challenging will put additional stress on the body when combined with heat effects.

KEEP THE LIGHT OUT

Cover your windows with blinds and light coloured curtains, turn off your lights, spend time on the lowest floor, all to reduce additional heat sources inside the home.

EAT LIGHT FOODS

Eat easy to digest foods such as fruits and vegetables. When your body has to work harder to metabolize foods, your body temperature increases. This also reduces heat exposure from cooking appliances including stoves, ovens, and barbeques.

TAKE IT EASY

Do not over-exert yourself. Limit social events, save the yard work for another day, and take your time at work. The more responsibilities we put on ourselves during this time, the shorter our fuse is and we can snap more easily.

CALL 911 IF YOU THINK YOU MAY BE IN DANGER OF HEAT STROKE AND HEAT EXHAUSTION

https://www.durham.ca/en/health-and-wellness/extreme-heat-and-humidity.aspx

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