With the weather being what it is, I found myself wondering about my housing and my lifestyle.
Once upon a time, if the temperature climbed above 70/F, 21/C, it was hot! (And yes, Fahrenheit was way more commonly used back then.) When was this long-lost era, you might be wondering. Just 40 or so years ago.
Back then, that kind of temperature made for an uncomfortable night, but it wasn’t that big a deal. And we all knew that it wouldn’t last that long.
Now, in 2023, even though we’ve had a very patchy summer, it is pretty obvious that the ball game has changed. You don’t need a weatherman to know we’re seeing more and more weather extremes, and we’re seeing them far more frequently.
And crucially, (even if it’s for valid historical reasons) pretty well no housing in the UK has been built for the weather we’re now getting, let alone how it will be in coming years. Living in Caversham makes that unhappy reality worse by the fact that we’re in the Thames Valley. The geography of the region traps heat and moisture.
Of course, hot weather and inappropriate housing don’t just make for poor sleep. Feeling hot is physically tiring in itself. Lethargy creeps into all aspects of day-to-day life. And poor sleep makes for a bad mood with all the problems and dangers that that entails.
Hot weather has knock-ons for your interactions with people in every context, shopping, socialising and anywhere else. Workplaces, too, can often be pretty grim. (And let’s not talk about trendy glass-walled office buildings, nor the consequences of air-conditioning.) Being honest, I don’t even have the right clothing for the new climate, nor the right body!
Given that most of us – me included – can’t just move to live somewhere that’s suited to hot weather, I’ve been wondering about what to do to make life more tolerable in future.
These are the things I’ve found so far that work for me.
I’ve tried to change when I do what I do, to keep out of the heat as much as possible. That’s true for work, exercise, shopping and socialising. Siestas are common in a lot of countries, for good reason. All my life I’ve found a short nap after lunch is a great restorative, and I think that’s doubly true in hot weather. Hot weather’s tiring!
Of course, stuffy houses aren’t great, but for as long as it’s hotter outside than in I find I’m better off indoors with a fan on me, and with the windows and curtains closed. A surprise one was leaving my loft hatch open all the time – but heat rises and letting it rise further makes a bit of a difference. And whether kipping after lunch or turning-in at night, when it’s really hot I find sleeping downstairs rather than up is often a little cooler. I’ve also learned to keep a fan on overnight, turned on me – it helps.
I read in an article somewhere that hot weather disrupts your mind as well as your body – and when I read that it chimed with how I feel in the heat. It was good to know it’s not just me. With that new-to-me knowledge, I found the discipline that comes with working out (and sticking to) new routines helped keep me on track. And it also made me take care to give other people slack – after all, they might also be tired and not really thinking straight.
And I think that’s about it, apart from another bit of advice I read about the need to drink more soft drinks than you routinely do on cooler days. It’s not just slaking your thirst – it seems dehydration is bad news for both your mind and body.
My experience says it’s been worth the effort to think about how to modify
my lifestyle. But, of course, I first had to buy into the fact that things have changed in the world. Perhaps it’s just human nature to default to thinking that things in future will be as they once were. In this case at least, it’s definitely time for some new thinking.