Summer’s not always a pool splashing party. Sometimes it’s the catalyst for volatile emotions. Studies have shown that with rising temperatures comes a rise in crime rates. Learning how to spot the warning signs of impending rage will help you keep your cool even when the temperatures soar.
What is it about hot weather that makes us “lose our cool”?
Within my medical practice, I’ve found high temperatures outside lead to higher temperatures inside the body. Many patients present during the months of June-Sept with slight elevations within their body temperatures. Their normal 98.6’s rise to 99.4’s with no signs of infection or disease. If the elevation rises to over 100, it is called hyperthermia. Hyperthermia can lead to many medical conditions including heat rash, heat exhaustion, dehydration and in severe cases heat stroke. Hyperthermia also has an effect on the brain’s hypothalamus, the part of the brain which processes data. Rising outside temperatures then, in turn, can cause rising inside body temperatures leading to your brain’s processing system becoming faulty. If your body temperature gets high enough, it can cause your brain to misinterpret data and over-compensate your response.
What does this mean for you?
You’re outside with family and friends playing a fun game of football in the yard when someone inadvertent throws an interception causing your team to lose. Before you know it this fun game has turned in to a no holds barred yelling match. You’re hanging out with buddies at the pool and someone splashes water in your face leading to a confrontation. You are at a sporting event when all of a sudden you see someone shouting obscenities at the referee, for what appeared to you to be a good call.
Now when you see these times of incidents you will know that you are witnessing a faulty hypothalamus in action, leading to poor judgment and an over-the-top response. The best way to get control over these situations is to cool off, literally and figuratively.
How to stay mentally cool even in the hottest situations?
- Remove yourself from the environment. If life is getting too hot to handle, excuse yourself for a moment to regroup. If having the kids home all summer is starting to get on your last nerve, make plans for a family member to keep them for a few days or make arrangements for them to go camping for a week. It’s ok to take a breather, especially if it can prevent a future breakdown.
- Vent your frustrations with someone. Keeping all of those emotions bottled up will undoubtedly result in an explosion. Find someone with which to express your feelings in a way that allows you to be transparent and unreserved. This can be a counselor, clergyman, family or friend; but they must be someone who you feel confident sharing deeply with and who you feel will have a calming effect on you.
- Find a cool spot to hang-out. Everyone needs a secret place, a place where you can retreat to cool off when things start to warm up. Find that place now, before you need it. Once you are in the middle of a fiery place, you won’t have time to search for your oasis but rather you need to instinctively know it’s there. Whether it’s the gym to work out your temper or the spa to have someone work it out of you; spend some time in your cool hang-out regularly during the summer to help keep your cool.
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