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Summer 2016 looks like it might have finally turned up, so now we can all start complaining about being too hot!
I love summer, but I have to admit that sometimes hot weather can be a bit uncomfortable. It’s much easier to cope with the heat when you are relaxing on holiday, than when it’s still 25C at 10.30pm and you have to get up for work in the morning. And while air conditioning can make your house more comfortable, it’s noisy and expensive – especially considering we usually have about three days of summer each year.
So here are 25 low-tech, low-cost ways to help you keep your cool when the temperature is heading upwards.
Keep Cool with Water
Splash water over wrists – there is a major vein that runs through your wrists. Running cool water over them will help to cool you down.
Icepacks on pulse points – working along similar lines, try holding an icepack over your pulse points in your wrists, neck or behind your knees.
Use a cooling mist – When I was pregnant during the summer months, I used to rely on a can of Magicool* cooling spray to help keep me comfortable. Now, I have cans of Eau Thermale Avene water spray* on my desk and in my handbag so that one is always close at hand to cool me down.
Ice in front of a fan – Freeze a bottle of water, or fill a bowl with ice chips and place in front of a fan on your desk. The air will cool as it passes over the ice.
Hang a wet sheet up – hanging a wet bedsheet in front of an open window will cool the air as it passes through the sheet.
Have a tepid shower – I know it sounds wrong and you probably would prefer to have a cold shower. But if you do that your body shuts down blood flow to the skin, trying to trap heat inside you. So try having a shower or bath that is just below body temperature. Water that is in the mid-20s C will lower your body temperature while allowing blood flow to the skin.
Cooling your Home
Keep curtains closed during the day – I know you want to see the glorious blue sky and sunshine, but allowing the sun to stream in through your windows will just heat the house up even more. Keep blinds and curtains closed will help to reduce the heat, especially in south-facing rooms.
Turn off lights and unneeded gadgets – you might not think it makes much difference, but each light bulb kicks out a small amount of heat. That includes energy-saving LED bulbs, and gadgets on standby will be producing heat as well. One bulb doesn’t make much heat on its own, but the combined effect can be noticeable.
Check your ceiling fan – if you’re lucky enough to have ceiling fans, the way they are run can make a big difference. Ceiling fans should run anti-clockwise, as the updraft caused by a clockwise motion will force warm air down.
Open up the loft hatch – if you live in a house with a loft, opening the hatch allows hot air to rise up into the loft space. That should help to reduce the temperature in the rest of the house.
Keeping Cool at Bedtime
Sleep downstairs – Hot air rises, so in warm weather your rooms upstairs will be warmer than those downstairs. If it’s possible, sleep downstairs. If you only have one storey to your house or flat, then sleeping on the floor might give you some respite from the heat.
Choose natural fabrics at bedtime – go for feather pillows instead of synthetic-filled pillows, cotton sheets and cotton nightwear. Synthetic fabrics can make you sweat more.
Sleep naked? – There are two lines of thought on this. Some people think that you’ll be cooler if you are naked, whereas some people think that the wicking effect of light cotton nightwear will make you cooler. My opinion is go with whatever makes you feel more comfortable!
Freeze a hot water bottle – freezing your hottie will make an icepack that will help cool you down in bed.
Chill your bed – try folding your sheets and pillowcases, placing them in plastic bags, and popping them in the freezer for a few hours before bedtime. It’s only a temporary effect, but it may last long enough for you to drop off!
Food and Drink
Eat smaller, lighter meals – eating raises your body temperature as it metabolises the food. You probably don’t feel much like eating a big meal anyway, but sticking to smaller servings of cold food will help reduce that effect. Salads and cold meals work well in the summer, or try cooking on the barbecue rather than firing up the oven.
Eat spicy food – it might sound like an odd suggestion, but eating spicy food like my Paprika Prawn Linguine or Lamb Keema makes your body divert blood to the skin to try and reduce the body’s core temperature.
Drink a cup of tea or coffee – it sounds wrong, but drinking hot drinks can help to cool you down. Drinking the hot liquid makes your brain divert blood flow to your skin to try and cool your body down. But don’t drink too much tea and coffee. Caffeine has a dehydrating effect, so keep an eye on your intake of tea, coffee and cola as well.
Keep hydrated, and avoid alcohol – I know an ice-cold glass of wine or cider might sound perfect in the sun, but alcohol dehydrates you so it’s not the best choice for keeping cool. Make sure you are drinking plenty of water and check the colour of your urine to make sure you aren’t getting dehydrated. It should be a pale straw/yellow colour.
Drink mint tea – the cooling effect of the menthol in mint will help you feel cooler. If you don’t like mint tea, try adding some to to a glass of lemonade or sparkling water.
Pop some grapes or berries in the freezer – frozen fruit makes a delicious and refreshing snack, and it’s healthier than reaching for another ice-cream!
Choose light coloured clothing – wearing white and light coloured clothing will help reflect sun and keep you cooler.
Exercise in the coolest parts of the day – try to fit your workouts into the early morning or late evening when the air is cooler. You’ll probably still feel uncomfortably warm, but it’s safer than exercising in the mid-day heat.
Try yogic breathing – this way of breathing will cool your breath as it enters your lungs, and helps relieve stress as well. Curl your tongue by pulling both sides upward toward the middle – if you’re not able to do this then purse your lips instead. Breathe in through your mouth, and you should feel how cool the air feels. Hold your breath, then slowly exhale through your nose. Repeat five to 10 times and feel all cool and relaxed.
Visualise snow – yes, really! When you’re feeling hot and bothered, get yourself comfortable, close your eyes and visualise a cold, snowy location. Research has shown that by doing this, your brain can actually be fooled into lowering your body temperature.