By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Keep your cool
Heat waves affect mental health
Life on the Ark.jpg

We all know someone with a hot temper or people known to lose their cool under stress. Now medical experts warn us that heat waves can exacerbate anxiety, stress and irritability. This is worth noting as a heat wave is expected to bring dangerously hot temperatures to millions of people this week, including those of us in the Golden Belt. Forecasters have warned of historic and potentially deadly weather affecting at least 110 million people.

It’s hot, hot, hot.

The American Psychological Association notes ways that heat can affect the mind. “Extreme heat can make people more depressed or irritable, it can bring on psychotic outbreaks, and people on certain psychiatric medications are more sensitive to heat,” said Jane Gilbert, the world’s first Chief Heat Officer, a government position established in 2021 in Miami-Dade County.

It turns out the phrase “stay cool” applies to mental health in more ways than one.

Clinical psychologists warn that baking heat can lead to increased irritability, sleep loss, mood swings and an increase is aggressive behavior. That means it’s important to keep your cool; stay near air conditioning and out of the sun if possible but get some fresh air and do regular activities. Eat healthy and drink plenty of water. Take frequent breaks if working outside. Check on friends, family, neighbors and pets.

This is also true when it comes to our physical health. Excessive heat can lead to heat stroke, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and dehydration. 

The American Red Cross tells us an average person needs to drink about 3/4 of a gallon of water daily, although everyone’s needs may vary. Other heat safety tips:

• Take it easy on carbonated or alcoholic beverages. 

• Apply sunscreen with an SPF 30 or higher every two hours when outdoors, and take regular breaks in the shade.

• Wear lightweight, loose-fitting, light-colored clothing.

Keep the heat in mind as you go about your daily lives. If you feel your blood start to boil, seek out a shady spot for the soul, take a few deep breaths and remember to keep your cool.