Welcome to the dog days of summer.
According to the Old Farmers Almanac, the dog days are the 40 days from July 3 to August 11. Historically, the term was coined because of the timing of the rising of the Dog Star Sirius in our northern sky. Sirius is the brightest star in the dog constellation Canis Major—and known for its association with Sirius XM satellite radio and Harry Potter’s godfather. However, since this timing also coincides with what is typically the hottest, most humid weather of the year, this is what most people think of and refer to when they talk about the dog days—for good or ill.
During these dog days, there are unique summer challenges. Longer daylight hours may lead to us burning the candle at both ends: it can lead to an increase in work hours, but sometimes we just don’t get the sleep we need because we want to enjoy the nice weather or cram all the activity we can into each day.
Sometimes, arranging childcare, managing complex summer vacation travel plans, or getting the kids to and from summer camps and clubs can be a daily struggle all summer long. There are also city festivals and events to attend, weddings, family reunions, outdoor activities, and a wide variety of other things. Any of these things—depending on how we approach them—can lead to positive or negative outcomes in other areas of our lives, particularly in the workplace.
The hot and humid weather, along with making our skin a little stickier, can also bring issues that make staying loyal to our job responsibilities that much stickier as well. Lack of sleep, increased work hours, or moods ranging from anticipation and excitement to anxiety over summer plans can cause us to lose focus at work. This can lead to safety risks, drops in productivity, and other detrimental workplace results.
It’s important to prepare as best you can to avoid any potential negative outcomes. Here are a few ways you can help yourself cope with these dog days.
Prioritize your plans: which events must be attended and which are just nice to do.
Communicate early and with all parties who need to be involved: family members, work supervisors, friends, etc., and be realistic about what can be accomplished.
Shift your working hours if possible and necessary, especially if childcare is required. Flexible work arrangements are becoming more and more mainstream to deal specifically with these issues.
Spend time outdoors: enjoy some leisure time in the nice weather when you can. Even if you work outside all day, it’s good to enjoy some relaxing activities outdoors as well—walks in the park, recreational sports, whatever suits your fancy.
Plan some vacation time if you are able. Take time to enjoy your life outside of work and attend any events you need or want to attend.
Remember, summer comes but once a year, but it also comes every year. Make plans to enjoy your summer—even the dog days—in a responsible way that keeps your body, mind, and soul healthy, whether at work, rest, or play.