Summer is here, and it’s time to enjoy some fun in the sun. It’s important to ensure you’re staying cool and not overheating while enjoying your summer activities.
Dehydration, heat stroke and cramps aren’t the only health risks that rise along with temperatures. A recent study finds emergency room visits for mental health illnesses also increase on hot days.
The mental conditions prone to heat-related spikes in emergency medical visits included:
- Substance use issues
- Anxiety and other stress-related disorders
- Mood disorders
How Overheating Affects Your Mind
Health experts cite several possible links between hot weather and more intense mental health issues. Extreme heat and the associated stress could worsen existing mental health problems. High temperatures can also disrupt sleep. This has a negative impact on mood and thinking.
In addition, heat waves are a sign of climate change. Many people feel hopeless, anxious and stressed by long-term shifts in weather and temperature patterns. This, too, could contribute to poor mental health.
Keeping Your Cool
To protect yourself on hot days:
- Limit outdoor activities to early morning or evening hours. Work out inside or in a pool, if possible.
- Drink plenty of fluids — most people need about three-quarters of a gallon daily. Focus on water, and limit sugary, caffeinated and alcoholic beverages.
- Keep your home cool with drapes or shades, insulation and window reflectors. Pay special attention to your bedroom. Temperatures of about 65 to 68 degrees are best for sleep.
- Look for a local cool spot if you don’t have air conditioning at home or if you lose power. Safe, free options include libraries, shopping malls or public cooling centers. Contact your local health department if you’re stuck.
- Know the warning signs of emotional distress and get help. These include changes in eating or sleeping habits, low energy and feeling helpless or hopeless.
Help is Always Here for You
If you’re thinking of hurting yourself or someone else — or see these signs in a loved one — call or text the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988. Learn more about how we can support you in body, mind and spirit here.