Summer Loving or Loathing? Hot Weather and How it Effects Your Mood

Summer has arrived in the Great Southern Land. 1 December is the official start of summer in Australia although as I write this we have the heating on. It's 12 degrees outside.

Australia is a big place. I live in the cold part.

Our nation uses meteorological reckoning to determine our seasons. The calendar is divided into quarters, with summer the hottest quarter and winter the coldest. Spring and autumn fit between. 

Much of the world uses astronomical reckoning which relates to the transit of the sun. Finland and Sweden dispense with the calendar altogether. Temperature measurement dictates the seasons. Summer arrives when the daily averaged temperature arrives above 10 degrees. Brrrr.

The seasons are different for everyone. 

Why the weather talk?

I'm intrigued by the impact that weather has on our mood and behaviour. The mere hint of warm weather in our town compels everyone outside. Joggers, walkers, cyclists, parents pushing prams and kids on bikes. There are people gardening, mowing, barbequeing, and chatting in front yards. The streetside cafes are full. It's socialising on a scale not seen through our grey winter months.

Studies show that 30 minutes outside in warm weather following a cold winter does have a positive impact on your mood. It also improves your memory and your creativity. 

Sunshine is a necessary ingredient. It can reduce a bad mood and tiredness and it makes us more helpful. But just getting outside and talking to people is a great way to reset your heart and mind.

But my summer may not be your summer. 

As the mecury rises so do tempers. Hot, humid weather is associated with increased violence and aggression. Some blame poor sleep. Others suggest our brains lose oxygen to the parts critical to keeping our impulses under control.

It's generally believed that 20 degrees is comfortable and we get a little cranky the further temperatures move in either direction from that sweet spot. 

Of course if you're trapped inside in the aircon in summer due to oppressive heat you've swapped the cabin fever I get in winter. Being trapped inside makes for short tempers and foul moods.

We each cope with hot weather differently. Some like it hot. Others don’t. Our physiology affects our perception of temperature and so do our minds.

Whatever the weather, it’s out of our control. My tip for a great mood? Pour yourself a cool drink and make the best of summer in your part of the world .