It’s mid-July, and I don’t know about you, but I’m already getting a little irritated with the heat. I should be used to it though, as 25 years of living in Florida makes one comfortable with the heat, very quickly. It’s also made me something of an expert when it comes to taking care of my body when it is super hot out. So before you give up and hide inside your house for the remainder of the warm months, behold! There’s a way to get relief. These are some body care tips on how to keep cool in these next couple of months of summer, and what to do if you do get just too damn hot.
1) Know the signs.
Key to body care in the summer is being able to pay attention to the signals your body sends you when you’re getting overheated. Muscle cramps, headaches, weakness, fatigue, confusion, and nausea are all signs of heat related illnesses. If you have these symptoms, get inside and cool your body immediately, as these may mean you have heat stroke. The symptoms are more likely to occur if you are being active out in the heat, but if you live in an area where you aren’t used to high temperatures and are out and about, watch for them too.
2) If you can, limit your hours outside.
And try to avoid the midday sun, typically between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. With the sun at its most direct, these are the hottest times of the day. I’m going to go even further by pushing that number to 4:00 p.m. if you are in an especially hot area. From living in Florida, I know that the 3:00 hour is just as damn hot as 2 o’clock. If you absolutely have to go outside between these times, try to stay in the shade, or else chill out in a body of water. I hardly venture outside during the middle of the day, and my fave time of the day is in the evening, partly because it is in the eighties, as opposed to the nineties.
3) Drink plenty, drink often.
No, I’m not talking about your alcoholic drinks, darlings. I’m talking about drinking to hydrate. Water is the best for hydration, but if you can’t get it, or absolutely hate it, first read this. Or try iced tea, lemonade, orange juice, or a sports drink. If you’re going to be exercising outside, drinking a sports drink may be the best bet for you, as they will replace the sodium, potassium, and chloride lost when you sweat. I’ve gotten to the point that I always, and I mean always, carry my trusty water bottle, filled to the nozzle with ice, wherever I go.
4) Don’t exercise outside when it’s super hot.
Exercising in the heat of the day is not good for your body whatsoever. Not only is your workout raising your body temperature, but so is the heat. Exercising in the heat puts stress on your muscles, as your body is circulating more blood throughout your skin (and not your muscles) in order to keep it cool. With less blood in your muscles, your heart rate increases. To get the best workout, and to avoid muscle heat cramps, workout either inside or in the mornings or evenings.
5) Use sunscreen.
Whether your complexion is mocha, peaches-’n’-cream, espresso, ebony, café-au-lait, or ivory, you need sunscreen to protect your body. When there is extreme heat, there is more than likely extreme sun too, so you need to apply the proper SPF so as to help prevent skin cancer, brown spots, skin discolorations, and premature wrinkles. And guess what? Sunscreen actually helps your body stay cool. Sunburns decrease the body’s ability to cool itself, which is of course dangerous in hot temperatures. But by using an SPF of at least 30, you are far less likely to burn, and more likely to keep cool for longer. I recommend using SPF 50, as you can be outside for that amount of time—fifty minutes—and won’t need to reapply until the fifty-first minute. But if you do get a sunburn, stay out of the sun and use outrageous amounts of aloe vera.
6) Dress for the weather.
This doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your style, it just means that you need to wear the right clothes for hot days. Bring out your big sunhat, and think loose clothing, light colors, and shorts. You can still be a rocking fashionista, but now a cool fashionista.
7) Know how to get cool when you’re too hot.
Besides drinking lots and lots of water or a sports drink, if you find yourself with any heat illness symptoms, get in the shade or indoors ASAP. You should fan your body, remove excessive clothing, and place cool, damp towels or ice packs on your neck, wrists, underarms, and face. Even hop in a tub full of cool water, or else spray yourself down with a hose. If you are still feeling the heat after 30 minutes, you should talk to your doctor immediately, as it may be possible that you have heat stroke. And heat stroke can be nasty: your body is at 105 degrees, is unable to properly cool itself, and may induce seizures and loss of consciousness. So yeah, let’s avoid that, shall we?