Surviving the Summer Heat



Written by Nour El Ali, Psychologist at the Valens Clinic.

Dubai summers are turning up the heat, and it’s not just the temperature that’s rising—it’s our moods too. As the temperature keeps rising, we find ourselves dealing with the effects of this scorching weather on our mental well-being. The combination of the high temperatures, humidity, and excessive heat accompanied by the restrictions and monotony of indoor activities may result in various psychological effects. The tricky part about summers in Dubai is that even the beaches become difficult to tolerate. Now luckily there are plenty of indoor activities. However, we need to go the extra mile of planning such activities which requires us to combat our low mood.

Now, we often associate Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) with colder climates, but guess what? Living in Dubai means we get our own version of SAD—the summer-onset kind. The sizzling summer season can bring about symptoms like irritability, low mood, decreased appetite, and disturbed sleep. It’s like the heat is playing a sneaky game with our emotions.

If you are spending your summer in Dubai, know that you’re not alone in battling these summer months. Understanding how the summer weather influences our mood is the first step in combating this summer-onset SAD. As well as, acquiring effective coping strategies may assist in maintaining our mental health during these hotter months.


Effects of Heat on Mood:

  1. Irritability and Aggression: The elevated temperatures can lead to heightened irritability, short tempers, and an increased likelihood of aggressive behavior. The discomfort and physical strain caused by excessive heat can contribute to feelings of frustration and impatience.
  2. Decreased Energy and Motivation: Heat can drain our energy levels, leaving us feeling fatigued and less motivated. The body’s efforts to regulate its temperature can divert resources from other functions, resulting in reduced energy and productivity.
  3. Low mood: Heat can induce a decrease in mood. Being confined indoors and facing challenges in planning outdoor activities due to high temperatures can lead to a sense of restriction and the loss of the mood-boosting benefits of natural environments.
  4. Disruption of Daily Routines: During the summer, people often need to make adjustments to their regular schedules and activities. This may involve modifying exercise routines, spending more time indoors, and adapting work and social plans to avoid the hottest parts of the day. These changes can disrupt established routines and potentially contribute to feelings of restlessness or frustration.
  5. Decreased Concentration and Cognitive Function: Heat can impair cognitive functioning, including attention, memory, and decision-making. The body’s efforts to cool itself can divert blood flow from the brain, affecting cognitive performance.

Coping Strategies:

  1. Awareness and Mindfulness: Recognize and be mindful of the potential challenges during the summer months. The challenges faced during the Dubai summer may naturally cause isolation, frustration, and low mood etc. It is important for us to recognize and notice these symptoms in order to push through them. Embrace a positive mindset by looking forward to planned activities and consciously adapting to the circumstances.
  2. Connect with Others: Maintain social connections and engage in social activities with friends and loved ones. Spending time with others can provide emotional support and help improve mood.
  3. Modify Daily Routine: Adapt your daily routine by planning indoor activities during the day which may elevate your mood. This may include attending gym classes, painting, sculpting, cooking, or planning activities with loved ones.
  4. Practice self-care: Engage in activities that promote relaxation and well-being, such as practicing mindfulness or meditation, engaging in hobbies, reading, or taking part in indoor exercises.
  5. Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and replace fluids lost through sweating. Dehydration can contribute to fatigue, irritability, and decreased concentration.
  6. Take your Vitamins: It is important to check your vitamin levels as during the Dubai summer people refrain from sitting under the sun and aim to limit their sun exposure. This leads to a decrease in our Vitamin D levels which ultimately impacts our mood and physical health.