Keep Your Cool When The Heat Is On
Remember last winter when we were shivering in our boots and praying for warmer weather to arrive? Spring and summer should be seasons when we enjoy getting out in the fresh air and sunshine. But when a heat wave hits, our bodies may have precious little time for acclimation. When our bodies are suddenly thrust into high temperatures, the risk of heat-related illness is much greater.
Heat stress is a burden that hot weather places on the heart and blood vessels, which comprise the backbone of the body’s cooling system. Heat-related deaths and illnesses are preventable yet thousands of people die each year from extreme heat, according to the Centers For Disease Control. Heat stress can cause medical problems such as heat exhaustion, heat stroke, heart failure and stroke.
Several conditions increase the risk of developing heat related medical problems during periods of very hot weather. Elderly people with heart and circulatory problems, kidney problems, respiratory illnesses, skin diseases or who are obese are at a greater risk during heat waves than other members of the older population. In addition, numerous medications, especially those that interfere with the body’s natural temperature control system, can predispose an individual to heat related medical problems.
When the weather is extremely hot you should avoid extreme physical exertion during the hottest hours of the day. Drink plenty of water, even if you don’t feel thirsty. If you must work outside during the day, take plenty of breaks in shady areas or other cool environments.
In addition to medical problems, heat can also have adverse effects on our moods. Ever felt cranky and impatient on an extremely hot and humid day? Hot weather can cause us to become more irritable or short-tempered than we would normally be. In fact, surveys show that the violent crime rate is significantly higher when temperatures soar into the 90s and above.
So what can you do to keep your cool when the weather is extremely hot? Try these tips:
- Take a “time out.” Although it may seem cliché, counting to 10 before reacting, or leaving the situation altogether, really can defuse your temper.
- Do something physically exerting. Physical activity can provide an outlet for your emotions, especially if you’re about to erupt. Go for a swim, do some exercises or lift weights in a climate-controlled environment.
- Find ways to calm and soothe yourself. Practice deep-breathing exercises, visualize a relaxing scene, or repeat a calming word or phrase to yourself, such as “take it easy.”
- Use humor to release tensions, such as imagining yourself or the other person in silly situations. Don’t use sarcasm, though – it’s just another form of unhealthy expression.
- Practice relaxation skills. Learning skills to relax and de-stress can also help you control your temper.