Is The Heatwave Making You Irritable? Here's How To Keep Your Cool

Emotions are running as high as the thermostat. Follow these tips to avoid conflict.
Feeling hot and bothered? Try to keep conflict to a minimum
franckreporter via Getty Images
Feeling hot and bothered? Try to keep conflict to a minimum

Warm weather is so rare in the UK that when we finally do get sunny days, suddenly the whole world seems to be smiling.

But the heatwave extremes of the past week, which have led the government to call a national emergency, have left many struggling.

With the air so uncomfortably hot, emotions are running as high as the thermostat, meaning we’re more likely to lash out at each other.

Psychologist Kirsty Leah from mental health support platform SupportRoom says that while warm weather tends to make us happier, sweltering heat is linked to greater irritability for a range of reasons.

“Hotter weather has a particularly bad impact on our sleep, making it difficult to nod off or get enough quality sleep as we struggle to cool down,” Leah says.

“This then sets a bad precedent for our day, with our brains not able to deal with emotional regulation and problem-solving as effectively due to a lack of restorative rest.”

And that’s not even factoring in the anxiety and existential dread we may be feeling about climate change right now.

Bloomberg Creative via Getty Images

Dehydration does us no favours either. Losing just 2% of the body’s water can make us struggle with taking on tasks that require mental and physical attention and coordination. This can amplify our emotions as we become increasingly frustrated with our inability to focus or work effectively, research has found.

“If we get too hot we can also begin to suffer the effects of heatstroke, which can increase feelings of confusion and agitation,” Leah says.

“As well as make us feel physically nauseous or fatigued, further contributing to our feelings of discomfort and amping up our irritability.”

How to stay cool and calm during a heatwave

Leah has the following basic tips for the next few days at home and work:

Make your life easier – Avoid the high afternoon heat, stay hydrated, and invest in lighter sheets or a fan to navigate the hotter days and nights with more ease and calm.

Try to be patient – You might feel more ready to snap out at others but remember that if you are feeling it, others will be, too, so try to be extra patient and lower your expectations of people until things are cooler.

Postpone meetings – When it gets hot, people will be working with a shorter fuse than usual. So whether it’s an important conversation or a routine check-in, consider holding back on work and social meetings until the heat subsides.

Avoid big decisions – You might be prone to making rash calls if struggling in the heat, but it’s important not to make any big decisions until you are well-rested and can focus on the situation in hand to make an informed choice.