Written by Leah Sinclair
With the heatwave continuing in Britain, many of us are feeling hot, sweaty and a little bit pissed off. But there’s a valid reason behind it – here’s how to feel calmer at a time you need to the most.
Being in London right now literally feels like being pushed into a container with loads of people, limited breeze and lots of frustration.
No matter where you go everything feels hot, clammy and quite frankly, muggy.
I’ve spent time huffing and puffing on the Victoria line (which is basically 20 degrees hotter than it is outside) getting increasingly frustrated with each exasperated huff.
I attempted to tidy up my flat yesterday and felt rage rising from within with each pass of the hoover across my bedroom floor and every wipe of a kitchen surface.
The final straw came when I attempted to try on outfits and pack a suitcase. The heat finally reached its peak and I had to stop. The pottering around my bedroom trying on dresses became all too much. This is what the heat has reduced me to.
As someone who doesn’t easily get annoyed, the fact that I’ve been getting irritated so easily has definitely been an eye-opener for me.
The moment I’m not laying down with a fan blasting, I suddenly feel the irritation creep over me – and it’s increasingly annoying because there is nothing I can do about it.
After all, we can’t spend all day lounging around and doing absolutely nothing. One must move and the mere thought of doing that in 3o°C and hotter in London heat feels criminal.
“Hot days certainly take a toll on our bodies, but they can also test our tempers,” says therapist Kiran Singh. “Exposure to hot summer temperatures increases your heart rate, which leads to increased stress levels and discomfort, as well as a lower general mood.
“In fact, heatwaves or hot weather lasting more than three days trigger impacts on mood, levels of stress, and even aggression and violence statistics.”
Therapist Juliette Mullen agrees: “Heat can also make us feel uncomfortable and cause symptoms including dehydration, headaches, rash, irritability, fatigue, low mood and more.”
While I began to feel bad for kicking up a fuss over weather I so desperately wanted a few months ago, it’s something that is increasingly common – especially with the prospect of the rising to 35°C degrees next week.
“Feeling frustrated by the weather is understandable but it can make our days more difficult, warns Mullen. “Frustration can lead to our temper shortening and our daily activities can become limited with less energy or having to be indoors for shade.
“Although the sun is good to lift our mood, it can also have the opposite effect in rising temperatures actually worsening our mood as we cannot control the situation and can lead to increased anxiety.”
Dehydration and lack of sleep due to the heat can also play a role.
“Trouble sleeping and dehydration can restrict our daily activities and may all contribute to a worsening mood in warm weather,” says Singh.
“Plus, being overheated can lead to a heat stroke, symptoms of which include confusion, agitation, and irritability. And more anecdotally, hot weather is harder to escape – when it’s cold, you can at least put on more layers and bundle up.”
So we’ve established that some of us get a little bit touchy during this time of the year – but how can we change that and become calmer?
“There are four things that I think are key,” says Singh. “Stay hydrated, and listen to your body. Avoid being outside during the afternoon heat and focus on aspects of your life you can control and realise that eventually, it will cool down.”
Mullen suggests getting rest if required and to avoid staying indoors for too long.
“Although tempting to stay indoors for longer periods, actually maintaining physical activity is still important for overall calm, health, wellbeing and vitality,” says Mullen.
“Also perhaps try practising mindfulness and meditation, to focus the mind on the things you can control and being present in the moment.”
I definitely will be giving these a try.
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