For many people, there’s only one thing stopping them from enjoying summer: oppressive heat. But, frankly, that’s no reason to let ridiculously high temperatures keep you from enjoying everything that’s wonderful about the season. Even if you don’t have tons of cash to throw at a central air system—or an assistant to fan you with palm fronds—there are still plenty of ways to keep your cool, even on the sweatiest, balmiest, most downright miserable summer days.
If you find yourself incapable of enjoying a cookout or grimacing at the thought of an outdoor concert, you needn’t worry—there’s hope for you yet. Incorporating even a few of these tips into your lifestyle can make an enormous difference in how much the heat affects your body. Implement them stat to transform your body into a bona fide air conditioner. And if you’re wondering why you shouldn’t just countdown the days until fall, these are the 30 Best Things About Summer.
1. Up Your Vitamin C Intake
Being cooler in the summer could be as simple as taking a pill. Researchers at the University of Alabama found that vitamin C increases your tolerance for heat by delaying sweat gland fatigue, which reduces the occurrence of heat exhaustion and prickly heat rash. And research published in the Journal of Applied Physiology: Respiratory, Environmental, and Exercise Physiology, found that vitamin C also keeps your body temperature from rising during heat exposure with a dose as small as 250 milligrams, so might want to consider adding vitamin C to your supplement arsenal. And if you’re looking to increase your vitamin C intake naturally, you’ll find plenty of it among The 50 Foods That Are Proven To Make You Look Younger.
2. Get Some Houseplants
The benefits of having houseplants are manifold. They can improve mood, purify air, and they can also make a room feel cooler. Plants release moisture into the air, which helps regulate the relative humidity of a room and can make it feel more comfortable than it otherwise would. And for more genius ways to maintain a temperately comfy abode, check out 15 Ways to Keep Your Home Cool Without Central Air.
3. Switch Scents
When it comes to keeping cool, not all scents are created equal. Sandalwood is used in Ayurveda to lower body temperature, so if you’re on the market for a summer scent, try using something sandalwood oil to smell nice and feel cool.
4. Stick to the Shade
If you really want to cool down when you’re out and about, find a nice tree to sit under. The shade from trees is actually cooler than shade from buildings and other man-made objects, thanks to a process called transpiration. A tree maintains its temperature by circulating water around inside itself and releasing moisture into the atmosphere, to keep itself and the air around it cool. Buildings, on the other hand, trap heat and radiate it back into the surrounding environment. And for more ways to banish perspiration for good, bone up on these these 20 Tips for a Less Sweaty Summer.
5. Eat Spicy Food
There’s a reason spicy food is so popular in places with hot climates. It turns out eating something hot is a great way to stay cool. Capsaicin, the substance in peppers that makes spicy food spicy, binds to the pain receptors in your mouth. In response, your brain interprets this as being hot, and makes you sweat, and the sweat on your skin subsequently cools you down. The brilliant part is that you can do all of this without actually raising your body temperature, making it a genius way to cool down when things get hot outside. And for more tips on staying healthy all season long, check out the 15 Biggest Health Mistakes People Make in the Summer.
6. Avoid Ice Cream
It might seem like there’s nothing better than a cold ice cream cone on a hot summer day, but there is. It turns out the high fat content in ice cream makes it difficult to digest. The extra energy your body uses to digest the ice cream can actually raise your body temperature a little bit. So, if you want to cool down, try a fat-free frozen dessert like sorbet or an Italian ice.
7. Sip Some Peppermint Tea
A glass of peppermint tea is a great way to make your insides feel cool and tingly, thanks to menthol, a substance in the plant that works the opposite way capsaicin does, instead tricking your body into feeling cold. You can also spray mint tea on your skin to provide both evaporative and mentholated cooling, so this beverage pulls double duty.
8. Skip the Barbecue
You don’t have to skip the cookout, but if you’re feeling the heat, you might want to pass on the meat. High-protein foods like red meat require a lot of energy to digest and can raise your body temperature, making you feel even more uncomfortable than you already do on a hot summer day.
9. Get a Gadget
Thanks to technology, you no longer have to carry around one of those little battery-powered fans to stay cool. Now you can buy a fan that plugs directly into your phone and cool yourself off that way, which makes one less thing to lug around all summer long. And for more clandestine features that exist right in your pocket, learn the 20 Things You Didn’t Know Your Smartphone Could Do.
10. Or Get a Body Gadget
Science is working hard to help athletes recover faster, and the DharmaSPORT wristband purports to do that by using technology that pulls heat out of your body quickly to cool down your inner core and delaying fatigue.
11. Cool Down Your Car Fast
When it’s 80 degrees outside, it only takes an hour for your car to get up to 123 degrees inside. Rather than turn on the AC and walk away, or sit in the car and suffer through the heat while it cools down, you can quickly cool off your car by creating a cross-breeze. Roll down a window on the passenger side of the car. Then open and close the door opposite that window several times to quickly draw the hot air out and get your car down to a reasonable temperature with reasonable speed.
12. Snack Instead of Eating
Because digesting a large, heavy meal requires more energy than digesting a small one, try snacking throughout the course of the day, instead of sitting down for three traditional meals, to keep your body from doing extra work and heating up in the process.
13. Eat Water Rich Food
Being dehydrated is a quick way to overheat in the summer, so be smart and sneak in extra water whenever you can. Seasonal produce like watermelon, cantaloupes, and cucumbers contain loads of water. In addition, they’re easy to digest, don’t need to be cooked, and taste better in season than they will the rest of the year. In other words, they’re the perfect summer food.
14. Control Your Fans
If you don’t have air conditioning, fans can provide some welcome relief. To maximize their efficacy, you can buy a temperature controller for your fans that will turn them off or on depending on the temperature of the room. That way, you aren’t needlessly running your fans all day, and you also won’t come home to a stuffy, scorching hot house.
15. Practice Meditation
Many people report feeling cold during or just after meditation, meaning a little mindfulness practice might be enough to cool you down on a hot day. There are also specific cooling breathing exercises, called pranayama, practiced in yoga, that can make you feel cooler in no time if meditation isn’t doing the trick.
16. Pulling Out Your Summer Whites
You only get to wear them between Memorial Day and Labor Day, so you may as well get the most use out of your summer whites as possible. Light colors reflect light, which means you’ll be cooler in white or pastels than you would be in dark clothes, which trap heat. And whenever possible, opt for them on the baggy side: loose-fitting clothes provide better air flow, which means you’ll feel cooler.
17. Drink Coconut Water
In Ayurveda, coconut water is used for its cooling properties. In addition to that, it’s also a great source of the electrolytes you lose through sweating, making it a relatively low-calorie, low-sugar substitute for sports drinks.
18. Try Wearable Ice
The Ice Halo is a wearable ring filled with freezable packets you can wear like a headband. You can also drape it around your neck or wrap it around your wrists to cool off pulse points. Take one with you to outdoor events so you can stay cool despite the heat.
19. Soak Your Feet
Pulse points are spots on your body where blood vessels are very close to the surface, which makes them ideal to focus on when you want to cool down fast. Feet are a commonly overlooked pulse point, but soaking your feet in cool water will give you instant relief from the heat and can also be helpful if your feet swell in hot weather. Do this at home, or in pools, lakes, or even public fountains to get a respite from summer temperatures. The nice thing about summer is everybody else is hot too, so there’s no judging.
20. Wear Double Gauze
When you think of summer clothes, you probably think of cotton and linen, but there’s another fabric that could be making your summer experience much more enjoyable. Double gauze fabric is very popular in Japan, where people wear it to tolerate incredibly humid and hot summers. It’s two layers of gauze fabric invisibly tacked together, so it’s extremely breathable without being sheer. It also wears well in heat and is amazing at wicking away moisture. And for a more American take on using clothes to survive the heat, check out 10 Ways to Cool Off This Summer in Seersucker.