Summer is well underway, and in a month we will be at the very apex of it. The heat can be a real bother, and even a hazard, as we may get heat stroke or forget to drink enough to compensate. Air conditioning is of course the ultimate solution, but what happens when you don't have A/C, or just don't want to run it 24/7?
Here are some very helpful tips on how you too can cool yourself in the midst of summer without air conditioning!
1. Sleep cooler. If the heat is keeping you from resting at night, try these ideas:
Get a fan for your room. A fan on a low setting that can keep a light breeze blowing across your room can work wonders. If you don't like air blowing directly on you while you sleep, you can still make your room cooler by using a fan in your window to circulate fresh air.
Put a small pillow in the freezer an hour or two before you go to bed. Put a few plastic shopping bags over it to keep ice from forming on the fabric.
Hang up your bedding in the coolest part of the house during the day. As soon as you get up, take your bedding to the coolest room in the house (in the basement, or where there's the most shade) and hang up the blankets and sheets so that each side is exposed to the air. Take them down and put them back on your bed just before you go to sleep.
Use silk or satin pillowcases, and satin sheets. These fabrics will feel smoother and cooler as you sleep.If you wake up too hot, consider how many coverings - e.g. Over 80F/26C maybe sleep uncovered, over 73F/23C 1 sheet, under that 1 blanket, etc. Similarly your dress or no dress top or bottom.
2. Water, and plenty of it. The relief is almost immediate, and will last for up to one hour or more:
Drink water frequently. Your body will feel cooler if you are hydrated. Try drinking eight ounces of water at least every hour. Adding mint leaves, or orange, lemon or cucumber slices to your water makes it more refreshing.
Get a cheap spray bottle - fill it with water, adjust it to fine mist and spray it on your exposed skin for an instant chill-zing cooling effect.
Keep the back of your neck in shade (wear a cap backwards, or raise your collar) or put a wet handkerchief on the back of the neck. The sensor for our body temperature control system is in this area, and so with this method you can make the rest of your body think that you are "cool".
Place or tie an icepack behind your head.
Wet all your hair, or just all along the hairline in a pinch. The evaporation of the water will cool your head (though it may make your hair a bit frizzy if it's curly!).
Wear a bandana with water soaked on it and put it on your head. Or you can relive the 80's and wear a wet terrycloth headband on your forehead.
Try using a water misting fan. These portable devices are battery operated so you can take them with you wherever you go. As you mist and fan yourself, the water is evaporated on your skin, giving you an instant cooling sensation.
Soak a t-shirt in the sink, wring it out and put it on. Sit in a lawn chair (or other chair that lets air through to you) in front of a fan. Re-wet as it dries. Use lukewarm water for this so you don't "shock" your system with cold water.
Wear a short sleeved shirt and put water on the sleeves only. If there is a breeze or fan blowing on you, you can actually get cold! Use a squirt bottle, the sink or hose if outside to keep your sleeves wet. If you are outside and wearing long pants and you put water on your legs, the water will cool your legs. Long skirts are also good for this. Just sprinkle the hemline with water.
Run cold water over your wrists for 10 seconds on each hand. This will reduce your temperature for roughly an hour.
Soak your feet in a bucket of cold water. The body radiates heat from the hands, feet, face and ears, so cooling any of these will efficiently cool the body. Kids wading pools are great for adults feet too.
Fill your bathtub with cool water and get in. Once you are used to the temperature, let some water out and refill with cold water. Keep doing this until you are sufficiently cold. Your body will stay cool for a long time after you get out. For a fast cool-down, add ice!
3. Dress appropriately. There are several strategies to dress (or undress) for the heat, depending on your situation:
Wear nothing. If you're in a situation where you can go without clothes, this can be the most comfortable and natural way to stay cool.
Wear next-to-nothing. Put on a swimsuit, or wear your underwear at home.
Wear summer clothing. Wear loosely-woven natural fabrics (cotton, silk, linen) rather than polyester, rayon, or other artificial fibers (with the possible exception of performance fabrics).
Wear light colors. Darker colors will absorb the sun's heat and stay warmer longer than light or white clothing, which reflects light and heat. Wear natural summer clothing.
Cover yourself up. Covering up may actually keep your cooler, especially if the heat is low in humidity. In the scorching temperatures of the Middle Eastern deserts, traditional cultures wear clothing covering from head to toe. By protecting your skin from the sun beating down, you'll also shade your skin. Be sure your clothing is made of natural fabrics and loose-fitting.
4. Alter your diet. What you eat and drink can help keep you cool as well!
Stock your freezer with flavored ice treats. Freeze a bag of chopped fruit such as watermelon, pineapple or lemons. Cooling down can be a tasty experience too!
Use a hint of mint. Mint refreshes the skin and leaves a nice cooling sensation. Try a few minty or menthol products to cool your skin. Slather on lotion with peppermint (avoid your face and eyes), shower with peppermint soap, use a minty foot soak or other powders with mint. There are even a few minty recipes you could try, for example:
Candied Mint Leaves
Watermelon Yogurt Mint Smoothie
Irish Cream Mint Chocolate Drink
Minted Fresh Green Pea Soup
Basil Mint Orange Pesto
Dark Chocolate Dipped Mint Leaves
Pudina Aloo (Potatoes in Mint Sauce)Green Pea and Mint Sandwiches
Use cucumbers. Slice a thin piece of cold cucumber (from the fridge or a cooler) and stick it in the middle of your forehead! This feels fantastic on a hot day or when stuck in a hot car and works almost immediately! An ice cube or a cold soda can work similarly, though the astringency of the cucumber is more refreshing for your eyelids.
Eat spicy food. It's not a coincidence that many people in hotter regions of the world eat spicy food. Spicy (hot to the taste) food increases perspiration which cools the body as it evaporates. It also can cause an endorphin rush that is quite pleasant and might make you forget about the heat.
5. Go downstairs and lie on the floor. Warm air rises (since it's less dense than cooler air) so it's layered on top of the downward moving cooler air, which sinks lower. If you're in a house, for example, stay lower than the warm air. Make your way to the basement or lower level. It will be coolest near the floor on the ground level.
6. Try a heat snorkeling system. Take a glass and fill it almost to the brim with ice cubes. Hold it up to your mouth and blow gently into the cup. The ice causes the air you are blowing into the cup to cool down drastically, and since the air only has one way out of the cup (the hole which should now be aiming right at your face) the cold air is forced out over your skin.
To put the "snorkeling system" to more efficient use, point a fan into a square of four cups filled with ice water and ice cubes. The cooler air in the cups have no where to go but out. Each night, refreeze the cubes and open the windows instead.
7. Think cool. Read books about climbing Mount Everest, visiting Norway, or watch winter movies like "March of the Penguins" and "Ice Age." You might not be physically cooler, but if your mind envisions a cold environment, you might feel a bit cooler.
8. Rest smart. Relax and cool down at the same time with these tips:
Sit still. Do not try to fan yourself — trying to move while feeling hot can make you feel hotter. Simply rest until the evening.
Sit in the shade. Find a shaded area and set up a water misting system that connects to an ordinary garden hose that can be found at home improvement stores. Sit there and let the mist cool you off.
Avoid peak sunlight hours. Take a cue from people in extremely hot climates and avoid going out between , when the sun's rays are hottest. You'll also avoid a sunburn this way.