Hot Stuff

Ahh summer…. The season outdoors and sunshine. To eat snow cones and visit the park. To…..get mean spirited and negative? To seek out arguments with your significant other? Well, as you’ve probably noticed, Texas in the summer is hot. Not just a “I need a short sleeve shirt today” kind of hot, but the “I could actually make a fresh batch of cookies in my oven-of-a-car” kind of hot. Does all this heat have your blood boiling in more ways than one?

Anger and irritation are normal emotions, but research suggests that the heat can fan the flame of your agitation and you are more likely to be aggressive. You are uncomfortable as the air feels like its slowly setting you on fire, your heart rate elevates, and then on top of all this nonsense, you have to deal with your normal day-to-day stress. As your face turns redder and redder from sunburns and high blood pressure, the slightest provocation can be blown out of proportion in your mind. And even if you are managing to stay level-headed and calm, your patience for those who cannot is drawn very thin.

While you shouldn’t ignore your emotions, you should do what you can to avoid them overpowering you. You are the thinker, not the thoughts, so you shouldn’t let them control you. Here are a few simple steps to reign in those sarcastic comments and that burning desire to just kick something.

  • Don’t Jump to Conclusions: Train your thought process to be logical. It is far too easy to get mad before you know all the facts or make the wrong assumption. Twisted logic twists our preconceptions, yet we firmly believe it is nothing but facts. Add in some uncomfortably warm apartments and all of a sudden we are finding petty reasons to become upset. Be aware of when and how you jump to conclusions, and try to see past your preconceptions.
  • Identify Primary Stressors: Other underlying causes will stress you out more than you realize and will get you really riled up when coupled with the heat. Evaluate yourself: Am I tired or hangry? Am I getting sick or dehydrated? Am I stressing over work or anxious about something? Honestly, the only chill pill you need is to recognize your underlying issues and to get yourself a breakfast taco.
  • Control the Energy of Anger: Find a better way to route your pent up aggression and irritation. We highly recommend some form of exercise. Put on your tennis shoes and go play an intense game of soccer. Beat the mess out of a punching bag. You’ll get a great workout in and you’ll find a more suitable way to get that energy off your chest. Or find a creative means such as forms of art. No matter what, avoid taking it out on those close to you. They don’t deserve it and you probably don’t mean it.
  • Recognize and Anticipate Your Emotions: What is an indicator that you are getting combative? Physical symptoms may include an elevated blood pressure and a pounding heart. You should pay close attention muscle tension and frustration level. You should acknowledge that you are getting antsy, and try to reason with yourself. Also, you should be aware of things that you know will set you off. When you fuse is short, try to avoid situations and certain locations that you know will get you going.  For example, skip the half hour wait for the food truck tacos and go get something indoors. Avoid crowded areas and carry cold water with you, especially if you are prone to dehydration. 
  • Stop and Think!: Count to twenty before you react. Logically plan out how and why you want to respond. Carefully choose your words while practicing a breathing technique. When you are feeling your irritation rising, chill out. No, really. Go inside. Get out of the heat. Remove yourself from the conflict for a while before you decide to react.
  • Practice a Mindfulness: Mindfulness is a way to connect yourself with your surroundings and to separate yourself from your thoughts. You observe your body, your emotions, and surroundings without judgement. You practice managing and controlling your thoughts instead of the other way around. It is a way to calm and ground yourself. For some helpful mindfulness practices, click here. 

By Bethany Gray