Updated: May 19, 2022
As I write this, I’m in Gurgaon which is bracing itself for a heatwave as the temperature shoots past 40 degrees Celsius. When we think of summer, we usually think of lighter, brighter and cheerful days. However, once summer arrives, it can sometimes get overwhelming. If you’re travelling or living in an arid or tropical climate- you know exactly what I mean. I’m a lover of Spring and Autumn when the sun is still shining through but there’s a slight chill in the air. However, when it’s summertime, I start getting physical fatigue and dizziness due to the exposure to the harsh temperatures and ultraviolet rays. There’s even a Japanese word for this phenomenon- Natsubate. “Natsu” means summer, and “bate” comes from the word “bateru,” which means difficulty moving due to exhaustion. Symptoms include loss of appetite, lack of physical energy, lack of motivation, and even minor depression. Fortunately, there are ways of overcoming this. Below I’ll highlight five obvious and five novel ways to beat the heat:
1. Stay hydrated
Summers usually have us sweating more which leads to dehydration. Staying hydrated helps maintain the amount of fluid in your body which is lost easily in the form of sweat. Generally, the rule of thumb is to consume at least 2 litres of water in any weather. In summers you need to do a little bit more due to easy water loss from the body. Have water (try it with a pinch of sea salt or with some cucumber and lemon), juice, coconut water and hydrating fruits. The fruits found in hot climates tend to have the most water content and electrolytes. Isn’t that nice of mother earth? Skip the chips and snack on mangoes, pineapples, cantaloupe, peaches, watermelon, lychee and papayas instead.
2. Eat light meals
Heavy meals might also cause your body to heat up and make you feel uncomfortable. Your body needs to work harder to digest and metabolise food after a hefty meal. This raises your core temperature and leaves you hot and exhausted. In the summer, eat light, freshly prepared meals. Reduce your intake of processed foods and salty meals.
3. Avoid caffeine and nicotine
Caffeine and nicotine consumption can also raise body temperature. They constrict blood vessels, causing the blood to warm and making you feel hot and sweaty. I know, I know, caffeine is a tough one. On the one hand, coffee is grown in tropical areas, so it's made to make us feel stimulated and elevated on hot days. If you're feeling overwhelmed by summer, avoid having coffee because hydration is more vital otherwise try to keep it at a minimum.
4. Wear breathable fabrics
Wearing light, airy clothing that keeps you cool is essential in the summer. In most cases, poor fabric choices produce not just excessive perspiration but also rashes on the body. Wearing tight body-hugging or synthetic clothing makes you feel trapped and hot. This is why summer clothing should be made of breathable textiles like linen, cotton or khadi. Avoid polyester, rayon, satin, acrylic and nylon. Also, avoid wearing black during the day to not absorb too much heat from the sun.
5. Carry an umbrella
Rain or shine, keep a small umbrella with you at all times especially if you are out in the sun for a long time. Just staying in the shade and avoiding direct contact with the sun will keep you from feeling depleted.
6. Cooling creams
Fortunately, the beauty industry has come up with new ways to keep their customers happy by creating products that have cooling and calming ingredients like cucumber, mint, aloe, and peppermint to chill you out in seconds. You can get cooling creams for when you’re getting ready. My personal favourite is Vaseline Body Ice Cream which cools you down instantly. Moreover, you can reapply it throughout the day without a product overload or greasy feeling.
7. Wet wipes
I have wet wipes everywhere, it’s a lifesaver and extremely multipurpose. I keep them at home, in the car or my bag while travelling. These can also cool you down pretty quickly if you’re feeling a bit icky running to meetings, doing errands, some outdoor activity or simply don’t have access to a quick shower. I’ll wipe myself clean, especially on the palms, armpits and feet. I’m not a big fan of wet wipes being applied on the face, but I guess that’s also a refreshing option. Alternatively, you can also use a spritz on your face and body when the going gets tough. As the water evaporates, it cools down your body’s temperature. Your feet are very temperature sensitive, so immersing your feet in a small pot of cold water will help cool your entire body - however, this isn't always possible when you’re out so opt for mists instead.
8. Reduce appliance usage
Electrical appliances, electronics, and even regular light bulbs warm up our homes, so use them as little as possible. Operate the washing machine at full load and hang the laundry instead of using a dryer. Also, skip if the dishwasher isn't full. Instead, wash the dishes in the sink and let them air dry. Avoid ovens and choose stoves, microwaves or grills instead. Eat outdoors and take your laptop to the patio to further prevent the heat.
9. Invest in a portable fan
There are some very inexpensive options out there for handheld fans that honestly do the job. There are moments when avoiding the sun and outdoors during peak heat is just not possible- in these moments a portable fan can be your best friend. Fans can reduce your body heat by up to 2 degrees by creating an air-cooling effect, evaporating water from the skin and cooling the body.
10. Spice things up
It may seem paradoxical, but eating spicy food can actually help us cool down. Following the heat you feel in your mouth when you eat spicy foods, you will feel the same heat in other parts of your body and sweat while you eat. Sweating is one of the most important ways in the human body to regulate body temperature. Specifically, it is the evaporation of sweat that removes heat from the body. So go ahead and eat something spicy! Just make sure it’s within your tolerance and you stay hydrated.