Skip to content Skip to footer

Surviving summer: Tips for coping with extreme weather conditions

With the current heatwave going on, I thought it would be prudent to draw attention to the fact that seasonally-induced and temperature-related psychological difficulties are exceedingly common (recent meta-analyses show that approximately 1 in 20 people meet clinical thresholds for seasonal affective disorders in the UK), and are even more so when living in environments where the conditions are on the extreme ends of what we as humans are ‘built’ to thrive in, with research reporting clinical thresholds being met as high as 1 in 5 people.

Examples of this include living in temperatures which surpass our natural core body temps, as is the case in Cyprus.

While many people associate rainy days and gray skies with being “blue” or low in mood – even depressed. But in Cyprus a far more common experience is to be overwhelmed by the heat, humidity and seemingly never ending sunshine. While many people flock to destinations to experience such ‘pleasures’ and may regard it as bliss, living in these conditions – which continue to spiral towards levels that are beyond what the human anatomy is designed to contend with – can be extremely taxing on residents, both physically and mentally.

Most of us can relate to the experience of losing our patience more easily, or getting aggravated by things that in other circumstances would just float on by without triggering any meaningful response in us. If you’re reading this thinking “yeah, you know what, that does happen when I’m feeling too hot and bothered” then know you’re not alone. You’re likely positioned at the early stages of a spectrum which extends from experiencing minor increases in stress, frustration/aggression and feelings of ‘drained-ness’. Further along that spectrum however, for as many people as 1 in 5 around the world, weather conditions such as extreme heat can have devastating effects on our psychological wellbeing — to the extent that mood disturbances and/or anxiety that meet clinical thresholds begin to manifest.

How does the weather affect your mood?

Weather can affect your mood for a variety of reasons and in a variety of ways.

In 2013, preliminary research from the Seventh International AAAI Conference outlined how temperature, humidity, atmospheric pressure, and precipitation can all play a role in daily mood.

In the research, low mood was generally associated with:

    • temperature extremes below 10°C (50°F) or above 21°C (70°F)
    • high humidity
    • precipitation
    • fog

High mood was associated with:

    • temperatures between 10°C and 21°C (50°Fand 70°F)
    • clear skies
    • high atmospheric pressure
    • sunlight

Not everyone is noticeably affected by the weather, however. If you’re significantly impacted, you may be considered “meteoropathic,” or “meteorosensitive,” an experience first recognized and documented by the Ancient Greeks.

Meteoropathy often features weather-induced:

    • severe headaches
    • poor concentration
    • irritability
    • old injury pain flare-ups

How does the weather affect your mental health?

Weather can have specific effects beyond feeling positive or negative about the day. It can have lasting mental health impacts, contribute to stress, and may even make you more likely to feel aggressive.

Seasonal affective disorder

When you live with seasonal affective disorder (SAD), you experience bouts of depression that align with the winter or summer months.

Researchers aren’t clear on the exact causes of SAD, but the way weather affects certain biological processes in the body is thought to play a part.

Shorter days and less sunlight exposure in the winter months, for example, can alter levels of certain chemicals in the body associated with mood, sleep, and circadian rhythm regulation.

Stress levels

Stress occurs when your body faces a challenge, and extreme weather can stress the body both mentally and physically. Not only does your body have to adapt to being hot or cold, but you also have to mentally adapt to the changes weather brings.

If you’re in a flood zone, for example, heavy rain might naturally cause some anxiety. Or, if you had important travel plans, certain weather conditions might cause stressful delays.

2020 literature review in the United Kingdom suggests that extreme weather events are associated with an increase in common mental health challenges like depression.


Hot temperatures appear to be linked to higher rates of aggression in what’s referred to as the “heat hypothesis.” Under this theory, being hot can promote aggression through:

    • discomfort
    • impaired cognitive function
    • competition for local resources, such as water

One study from 2018 found rates of violence increased as temperatures got hotter. In addition, a study from 2023 in South Korea found hotter temperatures were linked to a greater number of assault deaths.

Suicidal ideation

For reasons unknown, suicide rates increase during the spring and early summer months, according to research. Experts believe this finding may be linked to:

    • sunlight-induced changes in brain chemicals
    • temperatures triggering mood episodes in mental health conditions like bipolar disorder
    • compounded brain inflammation from seasonal environmental exposures (like high pollen counts)

Why does weather affect mood?

Researchers aren’t sure exactly why weather affects mood, but biology, evolution, and culture could all be involved.

As seen in conditions like SAD, certain weather exposures, like sunlight duration, can affect biological processes in the body associated with mood and processes that affect mood — like sleep and circadian rhythm.

study from 2024 investigated the “greenery hypothesis,” which suggests humans respond favorably to the color green because it’s associated with flourishing landscapes and favorable climate, which are important for survival. When this is considered in the Cypriot climate, where during the summer months the land can become quite barren, and the colour green becomes almost non-existent, this may be a contributor to the emotional changes some of us experience.

The connection between climate change and mental health

Climate change goes beyond daily weather fluctuations affecting mood. The climate you live in is made up of long-standing weather and atmospheric patterns that help shape a region’s overall environment.

Climate change, or the shifting and alteration of typical patterns, is a major environmental shift that can have significant mental health impacts.

According to a research review from 2023, climate change is a major stressor for mental health and is linked to increased rates of:

Not only can climate change create severe weather events like fires and floods, it can have indirect effects like food insecurity and population migration. It can also create feelings of loneliness, separation, and a loss of identity or belonging.

For some people, climate change is also a source of despair. Environmental grief and ecological grief are two forms of grieving linked to the natural world:

    • Environmental grief: the mourning of lost ecosystems
    • Ecological grief: a sense of lost connection with nature

Some experts combine these two types of grief under the banner of “climate grief.”

Coping with shifts in mood due to weather changes

The weather isn’t within your power to change, but you can be proactive about reducing its effects on your mood.

Tips to help you cope with weather-related mood changes include:

    • watching the forecast so you can prepare for weather changes
    • keeping a symptom journal so you can pinpoint specific weather changes that affect your mood the most (humidity, temperature, precipitation, etc.)
    • adding daily stress reduction and wellness strategies like mindfulness, meditation, or mind-body arts
    • create a comfortable space in your home where you can enjoy indoor hobbies within a climate-controlled environment.


It’s natural for the weather to affect your mood once in a while, especially if it ruins plans or makes going out physically uncomfortable.

When weather contributes to broader patterns of mood change, biology, evolution, and culture may be also be partly responsible.

Keeping an eye on the forecast, being proactive about mental wellness, and ruling out underlying medical conditions can help you cope with weather-related mood changes.


Thank you for taking the time to read this blog post.

If you, or a loved one, are experiencing difficulties with your mental health or overall wellbeing during these particularly draining summer months (or indeed, at any other time!) please do not hesitate to get in touch for an informal chat, or to book a free 20-minute consultation to see if your needs can be suitably met here at Sanctum.


Sanctum Psychology is a Wellbeing and Psychological Services Center based in Nicosia, Northern Cyprus (TRNC) offering psychological support for a wide array of psychological presentations which are also discussed within the psychology blog maintained by Sanctum’s Founder and lead Clinical Psychologist, Savash Akgonul

Sanctum Psikoloji Lefkoşa, KKTC’de hizmet veren Klinik Psikoloji ve Psikolojik Hizmetler veren bir kurumdur. Kapsamlı psikoterapi yaklaşımları ile psikolojik zorluklarin birçoğu için tedavi opsiyonlari sunan Sanctum, Ingiltere’de Uygulamalı Klinik Psikoloji Doktorası (DClinPsy) yapan, İngilterenin Ulusal Sağlık Sisteminde (NHS) 15 yıllık NHS deneyimi olan kurucusu Klinik Psikolog Savaş Akgönül tarafindan çalıştırılıyor.


Leave a comment