“If June was this hot, what will it be like in July and August?”
“I mean, I like it hot, but not this hot.”
“It’s so hot the chickens are laying hard boiled eggs!”
Just about everywhere I go, I hear the collective grumbling about our early hot weather. We joke about ice baths, share tips on how to stay cool, and witness irritability on the rise. Give a nod if the Houston roadways seem even a bit crazier these hot summer days.
Extreme heat takes a toll on not just our physical bodies, but our mind and spirit. While this might be of particular concern for vulnerable populations with limited access to cool shelter, the association holds true for people who have access to resources.
“While many people are still coping with mental health challenges from the pandemic, exposure to extreme, even unprecedented, heat, can worsen psychiatric symptoms,” said APA President Vivian Pender, M.D.
Research has found that increased heat is associated with suicide, increased psychiatric hospital visits, ER visits, and heightened anxiety, depression, and stress. Studies have also linked higher summer temperatures to decreased happiness. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapsychiatry/fullarticle/2789481
One of the best things you can do for your mental health during a heatwave is to take care of your body:
- Stay out of the sun as much as possible
- Try to limit outdoor activities to the early morning or evening
- Drink plenty of water – even if you’re not thirsty. *If your doctor has limited your fluid intake, check to see how much to drink during extreme heat.
- If you must go out or work in the heat of the day, find places to cool off when needed
- Check on your neighbors and loved ones to see if they need help or care – not everyone recognizes the risks of extreme heat or has the means to seek cool places or seek medical attention.
- Brainstorm with friends and family creative ways to gather, support, and beat the heat.
- Use effective coping skills that can often help improve mental and emotional well-being (e.g., support, relaxation, meditation, etc…).
- If a friend or loved one talks or behaves in a way that makes you believe he or she might attempt suicide, don’t try to handle the situation alone: get help from a trained professional as quickly as possible (hospital) and encourage the person to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 800-273-8255. For more information visit this link: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/suicide/in-depth/suicide/art-20044707
Be safe out there in the heat Houstonians!