Hot Weather and Your Anxiety

Hot Weather and Your Anxiety

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Are the symptoms of your anxiety disorder worse during hot weather? You may not be imagining it. When your body becomes too hot, you may experience symptoms similar to those of an anxiety disorder. If you do not take care of yourself when the weather is hot, you may find your anxiety symptoms escalating.

When your body becomes hot, it works to cool itself. You know your body is working the way it’s supposed to be because you will be sweating. This physical change alone, however, is enough to increase anxiety for some. If you are focused on any bodily change (and many people with anxiety are), then you may become concerned that the sweating is related to anxiety or is even the beginning of a panic attack.

In certain situations, your body may not be able to keep cooling itself adequately, particularly if you are not taking care of yourself.

Symptoms of too much heat include:

* Sweating
* Nausea and vomiting
* Dizziness
* Headaches
* Difficulty breathing and hyperventilation
* Anxiety and mental confusion
* Pale, clammy skin
Sound familiar? These are all possible symptoms of anxiety and panic.

If you begin to experience these symptoms during hot weather, then you should take steps quickly to cool down. More importantly, you should take care of yourself all of the time during hot weather to prevent these symptoms in the first place.

How do you know whether you’re experiencing symptoms of anxiety or symptoms of too much heat? Most likely, you will not be able to tell the difference, and you will not be helping yourself by becoming overly concerned about figuring it out while it’s happening. Take the steps you’ll find below for cooling down, and go on from there. These steps also should be helpful in reducing your anxiety, but you may want to practice a breathing or relaxation exercise (one that is already familiar to you).

How to Cool Down (and Stay Cool)

* Drink more fluids. Try to avoid those with alcohol, caffeine, and large amounts of sugar. Although a cool drink is refreshing, don’t make it too cold or you may experience stomach cramps.

* Get yourself to a cooler place. If you don’t have air-conditioning, go to a public library or mall (if you are able). Otherwise, make your home as cool as possible by keeping shades drawn and using electric fans.

* If you become too hot and cannot get to air-conditioning, take a cool bath or shower.

* Wear loose-fitting, light-colored, and lightweight clothing.

* Do not spend time in closed, parked vehicles (without air-conditioning).

* If you are particularly sensitive to heat or when it’s extremely hot outside, limit your outdoor activities to morning and evening hours.

* Exercise and heavy exertion may increase heat-related symptoms. Exercise during the cooler parts of the day, and dress appropriately.

* Protect yourself from the sun. Where sunglasses, a wide-brimmed hat, and sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher.

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