How to Beat the Heat…Naturally

Outdoor Bed
You could always just move outside, but I’ll try to offer more practical advice.

It’s that time of year again. Summer is upon us in full force, so friends all over the Northern Hemisphere are complaining about how hot it is outside. In North America, most people seem to deal with the heat by switching on their air conditioners, but AC isn’t really something people in Europe use. Grocery stores, malls, and some public transport vehicles have it, but most offices and homes skip it all together. It probably has something to do with the fact that electricity is much more expensive here, but I fully support Europe’s non-air conditioning ways. When I was growing up in British Columbia, few people had it (clearly, that has changed), so I’ve gone 30 years without it and still lived to tell the tale. I also have more money in my pocket and I can be smug about how much “greener” skipping AC is.

I have to admit, I deal with the heat much better than most people. I have less body fat than the average woman, which probably helps me quite a bit. I also have an aversion to cold, so the opposite of cold is somewhat comforting. Still, I think part of the reason I can deal with heat is that I work with it rather than against it. The key to beating the heat isn’t really beating the heat at all – it’s accepting the heat. So, without further ado, here are a few tips to help you get through the summer.

1. Drink loads of water. I don’t mean Coke, juice, or that weird flavoured water – I mean plain water. If you are not drinking at least 2 litres of water per day, you’re doing summer wrong. Get a water bottle, fill it up, and keep it with you at all times. Sip at it throughout the day and refill it when it’s empty. Also, avoid the temptation to drink ice-cold water. Although any water is better than no water, your body absorbs it easier if it’s room temperature.

2. Dress properly. If you are wearing leggings, go change immediately. I don’t care how much you don’t like your legs. You are sweltering in stuffy synthetic fabric. If you don’t want to show off your bare legs, wear a long, loose skirt, a loose pair of pants, or something else that lets your skin breathe. I know that what’s fashionable isn’t always what’s comfortable in summer, but the same is true for the dead of winter and most people have no qualms about layering on wool sweaters. Do yourself the same favour for summer. Wear light-coloured cotton clothes that don’t fit too tightly. And for the love of all that is holy, leave anything black in your closet.

Eat spicy food. Seriously, there’s a reason why pretty much every hot country has a lot of spicy dishes. Spicy food makes you sweat, which helps you cool off. In that vein…

Embrace the sweat. Pretty much everyone has told me that I probably like the heat because I don’t sweat. WRONG. I sweat like crazy. I just don’t mind sweating. If you get past the idea that sweating is gross, you can deal with the heat a lot better. Trade in your antiperspirant for aluminium-free deodorant. Wear cotton clothing and accept that you might get a bit damp if it’s hot out. Sweating isn’t gross; it’s your body’s natural way of cooling off. On a 30*C+ July day, it’s perfectly natural to start sweating. Stop worrying about it and let your body do its thing.

Eat lighter protein. If you’re a vegetarian or vegan, this isn’t really an issue for you. You already eat light protein. If you eat meat, opt for fish and chicken instead of beef or pork. You can even take a cue from the veggies and eat some beans and lentils. I know that red meat is popular for barbecue dishes, but save it for special occasions.

Sleep with the windows open and close them during the day. This might sound crazy, but hear me out. If you open all the windows at night and let cool air in, then close them, you can trap all of the cooler air in your house. Of course, this only works if you have some heavy curtains to do the trapping. If you just can’t handle the heat and no amount of spicy food or cotton clothing helps, this is the trick for you.

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