Good News: There’s a Legit Reason This Heat Wave Has You Feeling Lazy
There are times when I feel as though I deserve to feel lazy: after a long run, on a weekend when there’s a torrential downpour outside, on a Friday evening following an insanely productive week. More often than not, though, I don’t welcome listlessness creeping in, especially when I don’t feel like I’ve earned it.
Languorous behavior isn’t exactly a model workplace trait, and yet lately, I’ve had to really fight against it. Just a few days ago, in the middle of the August heat wave, I found myself relocating myself and my laptop not once, but twice in a matter of hours, hoping that a change of scenery might beat the sluggish feeling and get my brain working at least up to its average capacity. (There was little hope in expecting brilliance at this moment.)
When a co-worker pinged me, looking for a quick brainstorming session, it took everything I had left in me to offer some halfway decent assistance. “Sorry,” I apologized. “I feel like I can’t think,” to which she replied, “Apparently, this was the last straw for my brain right now.” With our powers combined…, we joked, and then I proceeded to stare uselessly at my blank screen.
You can imagine my delight then when the following day, another day in the heat saga that is the summer of 2016, a teammate sent me an article about how summer brain is a real thing. I tracked down the origin of the study and stumbled upon a Quartz piece titled, “There’s a Scientific Excuse for Why Summer Makes You Lazy.” Aha. There was science behind my depressed output.
Turns out, the 98-but-feels-like-108-degree weather negatively impacts us and our ability to get things done. The heat actually slows our bodies down, and the hotter it is, the more challenging it is to complete tasks. No wonder the walk a few blocks away to get a cup of iced coffee had me feeling all kinds of drained, when normally it’d have the effect of recharging me. And no wonder I was struggling to get complete sentences down, particularly on a day that the office AC was experiencing technical difficulties.
By the time I sat down to write this, however, feeling less listless than I was a few days ago, science is here to explain it again! Sure, the temperature has dropped slightly, but according to research on the subject, I’m also simply adjusting. If we’re active in the heat for a number of days, our bodies will adapt. Katherine Ellen Foley, writer of the article, explains that as our sweat glands learn to work overtime to cool us down more quickly, “our hearts start to pump blood more efficiently to the rest of our bodies.”
Unfortunately, we can’t use the “it’s too hot to work” excuse for very long, but for a short period, at least, know that it’s totally valid. And for me, someone who prides herself on getting in a hard day’s work and scratching my head if that plan goes awry, I feel affirmed. Be aware that if it cools down significantly and then jumps back up again during those dog days of summer, you’ll probably feel lazy all over again. But now you’ll know why, and you’ll know it’s only temporary. So don’t beat yourself up over your mushy brain or give it too much thought at all. There isn’t an app that can come to your rescue; there’s just time.
Photo of man being lazy courtesy of Mint Images/Tim Robbins/Getty Images.
Stacey Gawronski is the Senior Editor/Writer of The Muse. She started writing short stories in the second grade and is immensely grateful to have the opportunity to write and edit professionally. Her work has appeared in YouBeauty, Refinery29, A Practical Wedding, Runner's World online, and The Billfold among other publications. She enjoys running and eating in equal measure and lives with her husband and dog in Brooklyn. All three of them are avid New York Mets fans. Say hello on @stacespeaks.More from this Author