“We mustn’t complain!” But of course we do. It’s a bit hot, isn’t it, and some of us aren’t sleeping too well. A quick wellbeing check-in may also reveal headaches, irritability, low mood, foggy thinking, perceiving many tasks to be completed as difficult, reduced tolerance to pain and a host of other unexplained symptoms.
Now, I’m not medically trained, other than watching copious episodes of Inside the Ambulance and 24 hours in A and E, but I’d say this current spell of hot weather has a lot to answer for!
It’s a shame to moan about it though, because sunshine is theoretically a great mood-lifter and an excellent source of Vitamin D, which, if you don’t get enough is attributed to – guess what? – low mood and poor cognitive function! A good level of vitamin D, provided naturally by sunshine (provided you spend time outside in it) will also boost your immune system, as well as supporting heart, lung, kidney and muscle function.
If this is the case, why all the complaints then? Is it in our nature to complain? Well, to a certain extent, it probably is. The default setting in the “primitive” area of our brain often causes us to look for the negative stuff. It dates back to ancient times, when survival was a lot more challenging and potential danger was all around. But for most of us, it’s not like that any more, so what can we do to boost our mood in the face of a heatwave? Here’s my personal checklist:
- The most obvious one: drink more water – please! If you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated. Don’t wait for it to get to that stage. Dehydration brings on all the symptoms listed in the wellbeing check-in I mentioned at the start of this blog.
- Preferably drink cold water. It’s absorbed 20% faster than water at room temperature. And drink plenty, but don’t overdo it either, especially after strenuous activity.
- Pay attention to your sleeping routine. Draw curtains during the day if the sun shines in, to keep it cool. It’s even more important to switch off social media and avoid other stimulants an hour or so before you go to bed. Ok, maybe it’s an exaggeration to describe social media as a stimulant, but you get my drift!
- Eat light. Too much sugar, fat and carbs will affect your mood adversely at the best of times, never mind during a heatwave. Protein and veg, with some fruit, and watch portion size. And lay off overindulging in alcohol (England victories notwithstanding!)
- Take time out now and then. Give yourself a breather. Stretch. Smile. Have a conversation with someone: a real one, face-to-face.
- Be kind. To yourself and others. If you’re feeling the effects of the heat, then so are they. Don’t beat yourself, or anyone else up for being less than perfect. Check in with yourself at the end of the day to see what’s been good for you.
And guess what? This is all stuff that I’ve been recommending for optimum mental (and physical) wellbeing for a long time now. So, with one or two slight tweaks, what you choose to do during the hot weather to make things work well doesn’t need to be much different from what you could choose to do on a normal grey, chilly, rainy English summer’s day!
Enjoy the sunshine while it lasts! And for a giggle, look at this…