Have you ever been running around on a humid summer’s day and felt irritable for some unexplained reason? Or have you ever struggled to find the motivation to do anything on a snowy day? Situations like these may be more than just coincidences. The temperature may have been subconsciously influencing your mood. The temperature in the environment that we’re in can affect many things, such as how energetic, happy or depressed we feel as well as our overall experience. This means that when it comes to choosing the level of air conditioning or heat in our spaces we may actually be making a much bigger choice and influencing how we’ll actually feel in that space. The truth is, temperature can play a big role in how we feel, so you might want to consider these effects next time you adjust your thermostat.
Cooler temperatures have been shown to influence feelings of calmness in people. Cool temperatures often provide a sense of calm to people, reduce feelings of stress and can even increase a person’s ability to think clearly. If you’re feeling stressed or having trouble focusing, you might want to try adjusting your thermostat to a cooler temperature and seeing if that has a positive effect on your mood. Maintaining a cool temperature can be especially beneficial in spaces that tend to cause stress for people, such as airports, high-pressure jobs or doctor’s offices.
High temperatures on the other hand, tend to cause an influx in aggression for people. Normal situations that maybe wouldn’t be stressful, can easily increase feelings of stress in people if the temperature is too high. It is for this reason that arguments between people tend to rise during the summer months. In the Charleston-area we know first hand how hot summers can get so it’s good to know that if the temperature gets too hot things can get heated.
Obviously we can’t control the weather outside, but you can control the weather inside of your business or home. During the summer months it’s especially important to maintain a cool temperature inside to provide a much-needed escape from the oppressive heat outside. Ensuring your air conditioner is in good working order is a must for these hot summer days otherwise you risk feeling heightened levels of stress and aggression.
Colder temperatures, like those experienced on chilly winter nights, can sometimes inspire feelings of loneliness in people. Some experts believe this could be because during the colder months people usually go outside less often than in the more mild months. Usually, the less people go outside the less chances there are for interaction with others. Since people spend more time indoors and at home during the winter months, it’s not uncommon for people to experience a spike in loneliness at times throughout this season. If the colder temperatures are forcing you inside, turning your heat up a little bit may subconsciously help ease those feelings of loneliness that you’re experiencing. It may also provide a more comfortable environment for you and your friends to hang out in!
While skyrocketing temperatures can sometimes have a negative effect on people’s moods, warmer temperatures have also been known to boost feelings of happiness in people as well. As the winter months begin to fade and spring and summer start to reappear, people often report feeling increasingly happy, more optimistic and sometimes more energetic as well. This is likely due to the increased levels of sunlight and longer days that come back during this time of year. After spending months cooped up inside to avoid the cold and only seeing the sun for a few hours a day, the extra hours of sunlight can have a big impact on people’s feelings of happiness.
The additional light that we get from the added hours of sunlight and the resulting happiness we feel, actually has a scientific reason behind it. Sunlight is known to boost serotonin levels, the hormone that supports feelings of well-being and happiness. This boost in happiness is felt by most people, but especially those that experience SAD during the winter months. SAD, or Seasonal Affective Disorder, is when people experience depression caused by the change in seasons and the reduction of daylight during winter. The increase in sunlight after winter is over leads to a major reduction in symptoms for sufferers, but even provides a boost of happiness to non-sufferers too.
Our motivation can be closely tied to the temperature of whatever environment we’re in at the time. Both hot and cold temperatures can have a negative impact on our motivation. In this case though, it’s less about whether it’s hot or cold and more about how hot or cold it is. Basically, extreme temperatures, both hot and cold, tend to be demotivating for people. Extreme heat and cold can be very uncomfortable for people and this discomfort is likely to increase feelings of stress. When people are too cold or too hot they’re likely to focus more on their feelings of discomfort rather than the task at hand. They’re also more likely to be irritable and stressed.
Additionally, extreme temperatures usually require significantly more effort from people in order to stay healthy. Cold temperatures require people to wear multiple protective layers and spend extra time getting ready and unready in order to maintain their warmth. Similarly, extreme heat requires extra effort, time and resources from people in order to stay protected from the sun and dehydration. During times of extreme heat we have to apply and reapply sunscreen, drink plenty of water and wear light clothing in order to stay cool. Our negative feelings towards the heat and extreme cold are only compounded when our efforts still don’t provide comfort and protection from the elements.
Overall, mild and consistent temperatures seem to be universally better for people’s moods, motivation and productivity levels. In order to provide a comfortable and stress-free experience, it’s important for businesses to ensure comfortable and consistent temperatures.