Photo by Tricia Galvin Unsplash
Cranky? Is It The Heat?

So this is a little embarrassing because maybe it was a bit of no brainer all along. Maybe I should have just figured that the reason I felt cranky was because it was hot.

Yes, that’s right, according to science writer, Sujata Gupta:

Physiologically, people’s bodies aren’t built to handle heat beyond wet bulb temperatures — a combined measure of heat and humidity — of around 35° Celsius, or about 95° Fahrenheit… Mounting evidence shows that when heat taxes people’s bodies, their performance on various tasks, as well as overall coping mechanisms, also suffer. Researchers have linked extreme heat to increased aggression, lower cognitive ability and, as Tewari and colleagues showed, lost productivity.

With rising global temperatures, Gupta warns, there are very real adverse effects on the health and well-being of humans and their economies around the world. And, of course, all the more so for the world’s poorest, who have no air conditioning to help cool them down.

I am grateful to Gupta for her contribution to my wokeness in this regard, but I only read this today.

Before that I thought and thought about why, why, why. What was going on with this unusual crankiness, that was making me measure every word out of my mouth in my work and life: True, Kind, Necessary, Beneficial…I kept telling myself.

Never Occurred To Me Cranky Was The Heat, Instead I Thought…

I thought about Covid. Covid is still a problem for sure but, so far, my loved ones have been spared. And besides, humans adapt, especially introverts, lots of whom actually appreciate the increase in cocooning, as I do myself.

So, it wouldn’t have been Covid all of a sudden. And while Afghanistan does make me deeply sad, I noticed the crankiness before the recent chaos in Afghanistan..

I was also aware that everything in my life was going well right now. No real complaints, which made it all the more puzzling.

And then I remembered that someone who knew me well once said I was great in a crisis, oddly more rattled when things were going well.

Could it be that whatever residual or existential anxiety lives inside of me just pops up and sits there when there is nothing clearly big and bad enough to explain it away?

I figured it was some combination of that and waiting for the other shoe to drop.

So I decided I’ll just work out more. Exercise helps the mood. I actually just wrote about that. Yes, I’ll do that!

A friend had just inspired me to try a beautiful bike trail nearby. I don’t remember her mentioning that the first half of the ride was pretty much straight up.

So, in the 95+ degree heat, up I went with my bike’s resistance set high just for the challenge of it all. And I have to say that I am a little horrified now by how hot I must have gotten trying to work off the cranky that may well have been happening in the first place, to some extent anyway, because I was hot.

In any case, that’s where I was planning to leave it, maybe things just going too well so I’ll just work out more — until I read Gupta’s piece, and so glad I did.

Going Forward

Now I will be extra careful, patient, and forgiving — with myself and others when the temperature is high — knowing that we humans really are more vulnerable to performing and behaving less well in the heat.

Again, it’s kind of a no brainer. We all know people get cranky in the heat. But the studies Gupta reviews for us just put the thing in a whole new and different, and more globally important, light.

More locally for the moment, however, have you ever noticed anything different going on with work or home, or wherever you may roam — in the heat? Have you ever made this direct connection yourself? Let us know.

Stay cool,