August has arrived and brought extreme heat to the Pacific Northwest. We are not accustomed to triple digit temperatures in this region of the country. There is evidence that extreme temperatures can affect mood, and high heat can increase aggression. According to research, intergroup conflicts increase by 14% while interpersonal violence increases 4% during peak heat cycles.
So, how do you keep your cool when heat strikes?
- Slow Down – Reduce the number of tasks and appointments to the minimum to allow time to move from task to task at an easy pace. Rushing increases stress and body temperature.
- Stay Inside – If you are particularly sensitive to heat, stay in as much as possible. If you don’t have access to air conditioning, keep shades and curtains closed, avoiding upper floors as much as possible. Remember heat rises.
- Drink Plenty of Fluids – We all need water for health benefits, but during hot weather we need extra fluids to replace what is lost through perspiration. Avoid dehydrating beverages such as caffeinated drinks and alcohol and increase consumption of water and iced herbal teas.
- Wear White – Wear white or lighter colored clothing which reflects the heat instead of black or darker shades which tend to absorb the heat.
- Eat Lightly – Eat smaller portions more frequently through the day to reduce strain on digestion. Avoid eating large meals.
- Cool Down Fast – Even with good intentions, we can sometimes over do it and end up overheated. To cool down fast, apply ice packs, cool compresses or cold water to the pulse spots on your body which brings down the temperature of your blood vessels and lowers your overall body temperature. Areas of focus included the neck, inner wrists, back of knees, ankles, top of feet, temples, inside bend of elbows, and inner thighs.
The impact of weather on mood can be reduced significantly by being flexible. Have backup plans for activities to do inside on hot days such as going to the movies or engaging in hobbies. Or, plan water related activities such as swimming or going to the beach and save hiking for the more temperate days.