Why do hot summer days make us moody and what can help?

The weather can have a huge bearing on how you feel, especially if you’re an NHS worker. Summer may bring the promise of bright, happy days, but being uncomfortable in the heat can bring us down.

Seasonal impacts on our mood are not limited to the dark, cold months. For many, the end of winter brings relief from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), but for others, mini heatwaves cause stress and irritation, plus the prospect of hayfever and other allergies exacerbated by the warm weather.

Why the hot weather can cause bad moods

Being quick to display anger and prolonged periods of grouchiness are natural reactions to hot spells. Our bodies and our brains can react to being overly warm by triggering fight or flight responses.

The physical symptoms of being in blazing hot sunshine are very similar to those we experience in a state of panic – sweating, feeling faint and shortness of breath.

Many of us will also have difficulty sleeping during warm summer nights, which only increases our irritability during the day. If you live in a big city, the abundance of buildings, traffic and other people can make daily living insufferable by adding to the feeling of heat and claustrophobia. Even wearing few clothes is difficult for some, as it can heighten our body insecurities.

The overall effect can worsen symptoms of depression and anxiety for those who have negative experiences during hot weather.

Is there anything you can do to improve your mood when it’s hot?

We all know the basics for attempting to cool down. Throwing windows open, investing in an air conditioning unit and staying in the shade when outside will help. Drinking plenty of cold fluids and eating cold foods like ice cream can also go a long way to relieve discomfort. Not all of that is always possible when you’re working, however.

A good night’s sleep is a good way to prepare for a hot day if you’re going to be at work. Keeping the blinds and curtains shut while you’re out during the day will help you get a restful night’s sleep, as will natural cotton pyjamas that absorb sweat and body heat.

As counterintuitive as it may sound, getting outside will also help to boost your vitamin D levels. You’ll need to slap on the sunscreen and keep covered up where possible to avoid sunburn and the increased risk of skin cancer, of course.

Supplements are also a good idea to increase your daily intake of Vitamin D and are thought to improve symptoms associated with stress, depression and anxiety.

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