In case you’ve been living in an air-conditioned cave all summer, things are getting a little hot around the world. Britain broke a record for the highest temperature ever recorded in Britain, hitting 104.5 degrees Fahrenheit despite predictions that the country would not see those numbers until 2050. Things are getting so hot that the country’s steel railways and streets are literally melting. Meanwhile, wildfires are spreading rapidly across France, Greece, Spain and Italy. The heat has even killed more than 2,000 people across Spain and Portugal.
As if that wasn’t enough, climate scientists are quick to point out that this is going to be pretty much the norm from now on. There’s a pretty grim joke that’s often repeated in the scientific community about these rising temperatures: This is the coldest summer of your life. It’s dark, but it’s the reality. This is the inevitable consequence of man-made climate change. And unfortunately, despite our best efforts, it doesn’t look like it’s going to get any better.
So, with all that hilarity in mind, it’s important to note that while there isn’t much you can do to change the disastrous course we’re on, you can do something about it for yourself. After all, all the heat can take a toll on you not only physically, but also mentally. Studies have shown that high temperatures have been linked to an increase in violent crime. One article even suggests that the heat may have a direct impact on causing “destructive behavior.”
That’s not even getting into the rise of doomerism and climate fear that has increased in recent years. In addition, there are four things you should keep in mind to best cope with a heat wave. After all, the world may melt, but your brain doesn’t need to.
Remember: It’s not just you
In the face of heat waves, it’s helpful to remember that it’s not just you. Everyone is affected by the warmer climate to different degrees – some have it much worse than others.
But as the bard wrote, “We’re all in this together.” That’s why it’s so important to talk to others about what you’re feeling and going through. It doesn’t have to be a therapist – although there are many out there who focus specifically on climate anxiety – but rather family or friends. Many people are probably feeling just like you, frustrated and powerless by the rising temperatures, which you can remember.
If you can’t think of one, there are many communities you can reach out to like Climate Cafes, an organization dedicated to bringing people together to discuss “how climate and ecological collapse make you feel,” according to their website. You will meet in a bar or a coffee shop with like-minded people to whom you can feel open to express your feelings about the weather.
Focus on what you can control
In any moment of incredible stress, it is easy to let intrusive thoughts cycle and carry you away. There’s a lot to think about, after all, between heat waves, droughts, wildfires, bulging infrastructure and the deaths caused by climate change.
That’s why it’s key to narrow our focus from day to day and consider only the things we can’t control—while forgetting the rest. You alone cannot do much to prevent the heat wave. And there’s probably nothing you can do to stop a wildfire from raging out of control. However, there are things you can do to change your the situation – even if it is small.
Things like making sure you drink enough water, get enough electrolytes, wear sunscreen, don’t stay outside too long and finally install the air conditioner in your basement can give you a sense of agency and control when things feel chaotic. . Take a small step today to get started.
Take a breath
Heat can have a big impact on your breathing. Hot weather can not only cause shortness of breath, but it can also cause air pollutants, pollen and ozone to rise and spread. This can be a nightmare for anyone suffering from allergies or asthma.
That’s why it’s crucial to find a nice, cool place indoors and focus on your breathing. Deep breathing can help regulate your body temperature while calming you down – perfect for anyone suffering from a particularly bad bout of climate anxiety.
Consider dipping your toes into meditation if you haven’t already. Not only can it help you cool down physically, but practicing mindfulness can also pay dividends for your mental and emotional well-being.
Prepare for the apocalypse
If all else fails, throw on your favorite leather pants and jacket and head out into the world in a muscle car à la Mad Max. After all, if you can’t beat the heat, you might as well bring the heat to the wilderness.
In all seriousness, but it is valid to consider where you live in response to heat waves and climate disasters. This could mean thermally insulating the house or apartment by doing things like getting central air or air conditioning, shading the windows with shades or curtains, retrofitting the house to keep cool air in and hot air in better, or even installing a cool new roof which reflects more sunlight and keeps the house cooler.
Alternatively, you might even consider moving to a cooler climate. Of course, this is a much more drastic option and depends entirely on your family, work, income and more – but it is an alternative. And if it means better mental and emotional health for you, it might be worth it.
If nothing else, it is important to make peace with the fact that climate change is a reality. You can always take small steps to make things better for yourself. That way, you can lower your anxiety a little – even if the mercury is still rising.