For the longest time now I’ve been wondering if my propensity for impatience and bad temper might have to do with the weather!
One major trigger is when my little tropical island state on the equator turns up the heat in the months of April and May. Which is saying a lot, since it’s already hot and wet here throughout the other ten months.
Some have even called ‘hot’ and ‘wet’ the two seasons of our country!
Over time I’ve noticed when the mercury rises, my ‘inner volcanic lava’ rises in tandem. I lose patience like I lose moisture. Sweat pours down in buckets even when I’m statue-still. Skin turns clammy. You can even say it’s wet tee shirt contest clingy, except this ain’t no sea water!
In short, my temper boils over like a furnace on overdrive.
Times like these I should drape a billboard around my neck to warn off the unwary; something that says “Don’t come close or I might lose it!” Though lugging a sign that size would likely cause me to sweat more!
To those who live in places with four seasons, let me just say how blessed you are and how envious I am!
“Hot! Hot! Hot!”
When I was young the heat didn’t seem to matter so much. In fact it wasn’t even all that hot and humid back then in the 1970s when I was still growing up.
Those were the days when global warming was an unknown. And air-conditioning wasn’t prevalent.
These days wherever my family and I travel in this equatorial island, somewhere along the journey there better be an option to enter an air-conditioned locale. At least for my sake if not the wife and kids! Ahhh…the immediate difference is palpable each time I step from the sweltering, sizzling outdoors into the cucumber-cool indoors of a library, retail mall or even our airport.
Like slipping into a pair of silk pyjamas after an Ayurvedic spa treatment.
Especially on days when the metre reads 34 degrees Celsius or higher!
Which is happening quite a bit this year, especially since 1 April when we chocked up a record-breaking 36.8 degrees Celcius on the thermometer. Incidentally, that’s just 0.2 degrees shy of our nation’s all-time high way back on 17 April, 1983!
And to make matters worse, the latest forecast — hot and hotter — for the rest of this year, plus the recent spate of fires breaking out in different parts of the island, only makes everything seem even more hot and bothered from where I’m standing.
Or rather sitting. While fanning myself profusely.
So what’s the science on how hot weather affects us?
But just how is the heat affecting the likes of me?
According to ABC News Australia, Dr Burke researches the effects of extreme weather events and long-term climate change on the mental well-being of people around the world.
She believes that one of the best ways to research the effect is to study droughts, like the ones commonly experienced in Australia. To her, “drought is one of the best-researched extreme weather events in terms of its impact on people.”
No arguments from me! I mean even the sound of the word drought is enough to get me all hot under the collar.
Dr Burke goes on to say: “We tend to refer to droughts as having an indirect effect on people’s mental health, because … the associated economic stresses and strains … are the main pathway for people experiencing ongoing depression and anxiety [or] family stress.”
According to Dr Burke, researchers have noticed an increase in hospitalisations for a range of mood and behavioural disorders during times of extreme heat and humidity. These include schizophrenia, dementia, delusional disorders, and a range of anxiety and PTSD.
Oh dear again!
Help, I need cooler weather NOW!
The truth is clear. Too much heat isn’t just bad for me, it’s bad for everyone! And not just because of those symptoms Dr Burke mentioned.
When the mercury gets past 32 degrees on most days here, I find myself unable to think straight and focus. There’s a visceral weariness in my very bones and muscles that cripples me to the point I just don’t feel like doing anything at all. Not even to take my son to the nearby playground for his usual outdoor eye care time!
I lose motivation. I lose all zeal. But most of all, I lose it! “It” being my calm, my cool, my zen.
Which means I end up a very short-tempered person to be around. A fuse waiting to blow up. My wife and kids can vouch for that!
And to make matters worse, each passing year as I age, I’m left on many hot and humid days with a nasty migraine and a body more susceptible to coming down with, of all things, the common cold! Don’t ask!!
Will I one day be able to “take the heat”?
I know I know. All this sounds like needless ranting from a lunatic who doesn’t appreciate that there are places on earth far hotter than mine.
It’s just that with the climate czars out there telling us global warming is only going to worsen, what’s a guy like me, without the skill to keep it cool in sweltering heat of near 40 degree Celsius and humidity levels that regularly surpass 90%, to do?!
Sighhh…would love to know how you my dear reader stay cool and calm when the temperature ascends. I sure could use some advice.
Thanks in advance!
Meantime, I need to go take a cold shower.
[If you’re curious to know of my other ‘shortcomings’, click here to read about them. Meantime, I felt vindicated with this “griping” post of mine after reading days later in local news about why my country’s in this current “heated” situation here and what precautions doctors say we should take to stay cool here.]