Chances are that the extreme heat in Louisiana is making you wonder if the temperature can really have an impact on our attitude, and you know the answer is "yes" on so many levels.

Just how much does the extreme heat in Louisiana impact our emotions? Research reveals a significant connection between high temperatures and negative feelings like anger, irritability, and stress.

Scientists do study these issues, and while the word "annoyed" is used in the title of this story, it's a phrase people are using to describe other people and as a "catch-all" to describe our multitude of emotions and behaviors now that it's super hot. It seems like most of us seem to be more on edge and irritable.

Let's dive into what research tells us.

Angry Person
Photo courtesy of Engin Akyurt, E29Wcsqqz9Q, Unsplash

An Ode to Joy! Goodbye, Joy!

If you think people are more annoyed, upset, meaner, and rude in the heat then you are right. Apparently, according to the Baylor College of Medicine, it's really happening. Here is an excerpt from an article written about this subject. Homa Shalchi writes,

Excessive heat causes changes in emotions and behavior that can result in feelings of anger, irritability, aggression, discomfort, stress, and fatigue. Heat alters those behaviors because of its impact on serotonin, the primary neurotransmitter that regulates your mood, leading to decreased levels of happiness or joy and increased levels of stress and fatigue.

Um, yes! The heat is literally ripping our joy away from us!!! If you feel like you are grouchier in this hotter weather, then guess what? You're RIGHT!! We are all annoyed because it's so hot out there.

Cow's Ear with Mad Tag
Photo courtesy of Pieter Van Noorden, ksypW96PKCY, via Unsplash

Do You Have "Heat Rage"?

You likely hear or see the forecast for our area multiple times a day. When you go to your car into your office, a store, and then back out to your car, you, no doubt, FEEL the heat.

What's the impact of all of this heat on how "jacked-up" our emotions get? You know you get cranky when it gets hot, and the research backs that up! Well, we apparently get more aggressive. According to an article in Psychology Today, two researchers who look into 56 different studies and concluded,

The scorching temperatures lead to increased discomfort, which, in turn, can trigger irritability and aggression. The phenomenon is commonly referred to as "heat rage" or "summer aggression".

Now you know you are not the only one that gets angry when it gets hot. Just remember not to act on your "summer aggression" because that's how you end up in "summer jail". Yeah, that's a made-up term, but you get the point!

Woman Can't Sleep
Photo courtesy of Kinga Howard, FVRTLKgQ700, via Unsplash

You Can't Sleep, Neither Can Anyone Else!

You know this one all too well, and there is plenty of science to back up what you are experiencing. How many times does it feel too hot to sleep in the middle of summer? Even if you turn the thermostat way down, you can still have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep.

No wonder so many of us are grouchy all the time. We can't sleep, and we have mood swings. Hotter temperatures are making us miserable.

The National Center for Biotechnology Information and National Institutes of Health report on mounds of studies that deal with what kind of impact hotter temperatures have on our behavior. In one article they wrote,

Prolonged exposure to high temperatures can disrupt mood stability. Heat-induced physiological changes, such as hormonal fluctuations and disturbed sleep patterns, can contribute to shifts in mood. Individuals may experience heightened mood swings, feelings of sadness, or an overall sense of emotional instability.

Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

Feeling Sad and Anxious?

Researchers are looking into all aspects of how heat affects us. You know how bad you feel if you have to be outdoors for an excessive period of time in extreme heat, and that can be exacerbated for someone who has psychiatric issues as well.

Dr. Asim Shah is the executive vice chair and professor in the Menninger Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Baylor University. He says

All mental illnesses increase with heat because it results in more fatigue, irritability, and anxiety, and it can exacerbate depressive episodes.

The report even mentions an 8% increase in the number of people with mental health issues seeking emergency room help when temperatures soar. Whenever you are having an issue all of these publications say you should reach out to your healthcare provider.

What to Do?

As you have seen there is a relationship between rising temperatures in the summer and the crappy feelings we experience. So, is there anything we can do? Well, we obviously can stay hydrated and not expose ourselves to prolonged heat, but a psychologist recommends what people should do if they are feeling more anger or aggression and maybe it applies to all of the feelings impacted by higher heat.

Dr. Josh Klapow, a psychologist with the University of Alabama at Birmingham offers the following 3 steps:

  • Relax
  • Rethink
  • Redirect

He recommends the following:

  • Relax. Slow down, take a deep breath, calm down. “While it is probably the last thing you want to hear when angry, it is critical to slow down the anger response,” Klapow said. “Take deep breaths, which will modify heart rate and blood pressure, and relax your muscles, which will slow anger response. Repeat a phrase such as ‘calm down’ over and over until your anger fades.”

  • Rethink. Think the situation through, and see if your anger is misplaced. “Ask yourself why are you angry,” Klapow suggested. “Rethinking means coming up with another explanation for the problem that doesn’t cause you so much anger. Refocusing your thinking may help you solve the problem rather than just getting — and staying — mad.”

  • Redirect. Take all that emotional energy and do something positive with it. Try to solve the problem, if possible; but at least turn your energy into something productive, such as exercise or anything that works for you in releasing your pent-up anger or emotion.”

As we all experience these hot temperatures together, hopefully, we will remember to give each other a little space and breathing room.

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