7 Ways to Beat the Heat
By Erin Hogan, RN, BSN
In New England, we often count down the days to when we can put away the shovels and gloves and get ready for the beach chairs and summer cookouts. But along with the fun of summer can also come the sweltering heat. Use these tricks to help yourself beat the heat and stay cool this summer.
- Stay hydrated.
Most of us are aware of how important it is to stay well hydrated, and it is even more essential to drink enough water in the hot summer months. Whether it’s from sitting outside in the sun or a vigorous workout, be sure to replace the sweat your body loses with lots of fluids. If you’re tired of boring water, try adding frozen fruit or freezing ice cubes with lemon or lime wedges. You can even give your drink a fun twist with a sprig of rosemary or mint.
- Stay out of the kitchen.
Grilling outside is a great way to avoid overheating the kitchen, and it’s also a great way to try some new, seasonal vegetables. Having dinner with friends and family can be a lot less stressful when you’re not slaving over a hot stove. Pop open the umbrella on the patio and enjoy a delicious, healthy meal without working up a sweat in the kitchen. Another way to prevent overheating the kitchen is to turn off the heated dry cycle of the dishwasher—let the dishes air dry.
- Get a cool night’s sleep.
Along with trying to keep your bedroom cool with fans and air conditioning, keep your body cool with ice cold sheets. Try this: fold up your sheets and pillowcases, place them in a plastic bag, and freeze them for a few hours. When you’re ready for bed, make up the bed with the frosty sheets to help avoid night sweats. You can also place gel ice packs under your fitted sheet at key pressure points—behind your neck, under your knees, on your wrist, or at your feet—for a nice relaxing cool down. If you don’t have gel ice packs, put rice in a cotton sock tied off with twine and place in the freezer for a few hours.
- Spritz the heat away.
Keep a spray bottle in the refrigerator and mist yourself on those hot summer days. As the water evaporates, it cools your skin as part of your body’s thermal regulation. You can also add a few drops of essential oils for a refreshing scent: lavender for relaxation or peppermint to help cool you down even more. Be sure to avoid citrus scents when you’re out in the sun, though, as they make your skin photosensitive. (Warning: be sure to check with your doctor before using any essential oils if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.) Keeping aloe vera or lotion in the refrigerator also helps cool your skin down quickly.
- Work out to cool down.
Just because it’s hot out doesn’t mean you have to forego exercise. Summer is a great time to take advantage of water workouts, from swimming to water aerobics or water Zumba. If you’re working out outside, avoid doing so in middle of the day when the sun is hottest. Try going for a brisk walk or run early in the morning or later in the evening when the sun isn’t as fierce, and stay well hydrated.
- When all else fails, take a cool shower.
Just like a hot shower can be a nice way to warm up your body in the cold months, taking a cold shower can cool your body in the hot months. A shower, of course, also removes the built-up sweat from the day. When you’re done showering, let your body air dry for a longer cool; letting the water evaporate from your skin keeps you cooler, longer. Going to bed with wet hair can also help on hot summer nights.
- Don’t sweat the small stuff.
Getting worked up or “hot headed,” especially on a warm day, is only going to raise your core temperature. Not only does stress make us hotter, but it can increase our heart rate and blood pressure. When you’re feeling particularly tense or anxious, take a break with some deep breathing or meditation under a shady tree, splash your face with some cool water, or go for a nice walk. Keep cool and carry on!
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