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Many of us have found ourselves migrating to the back patio to take a break from months of Netflix binging (June came and went?). The sun boosts mood and morale, but it can also have some dangerous effects if we do not heed caution. By following these 10 tips, you may actually find that there are ways to enjoy the dog days of this endless summer.
- Clothing is your friend. It seems instinctual to remove as many items as possible without fear of an arrest. However, loose, long garments made from natural and breathable fibers will actually keep you cooler than bearing it all. The shade from the clothing protects the body, and the relaxed fit allows airflow to evaporate sweat.
- Accessories are not your friend. You’re still cute without your statement metallic necklace and fun hoop earrings. These are sun magnets and could actually burn you. Furthermore, if you’re able to pull your hair off your neck, opt for that flouncy ponytail or bun. You want that breeze on your neckline (pressure point, which we’ll get to later). Sunglasses ARE an acceptable and encouraged accessory.
- As are hats. It’s believed that roughly 20% of our blood supply flows to our faces. Simply covering your head can lower the heat to the rest of your body. Hats, bandanas, and hooded tops can make all the difference. Dust off that floppy beach hat you wear only on vacation – it’s functional AND adorable!
- On the topic of fashion, light colors are better than dark. White, beige, and light pastels reflect the sun and keep you cooler, whereas its darker counterpart absorbs heat. Welcome, your new go-to trend for this season’s garb. Be bold, try mint!
- Speaking of herbs…do as the traditional herbalists do and reach for those mint body washes, lotions, and oils. Try dabbing a bit of spearmint or peppermint oil on your neck or chest for a quick burst of a cooling sensation. They have a cool and calming effect that when eaten or used on the skin can help fight the heat. You now have the reason you’ve been searching for to slurp down that mint julep.
- Before and after your cocktail, get busy hydrating. This is possibly the No. 1 preventive measure you can take to stay cool. Drink as much water as your belly can handle. Your body actually won’t tell you that you’re thirsty until it’s too late, as thirst will usually come late in the dehydration process. Be proactive in your hydration. Don’t love water? Try lemonade, sports drinks, coconut water, or munch on some watermelon!
- That’s right, eating can help, too. Aside from the obvious choice snacks that are high in water concentrate such as cucumber, celery, lettuce, and strawberries, a less obvious but surprisingly effective alternative is spicy food! It may seem counterintuitive to sip a bowl of hot chili, but studies show that eating spicy foods can cool the body by making you sweat and therefore lowering your internal temperature. Whip up a nice curry chicken salad or jalapeño guacamole and let your mouth do the work.
- Sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen. Protecting your skin does more than preventing you from premature aging, sun poisoning, and even skin cancer. Our intensely strong South Texan sun can burn even the most experienced sun worshipers in 20 minutes. Sunburns impact your body’s ability to cool itself down, therefore increasing your risk for dehydration.
- Cool your pulse points. These are the points on your body where you can easily feel your pulse – the skin is often thinner there and your blood vessels are closer to the surface. Cooling your blood helps cool your entire body. Tip: Keep a cup of water nearby to dab on the body’s cooling points: temples, wrists, knees, ankles, thighs, and elbows.
- Seek shade. This may seem obvious, but compared to the direct sun it can be up to 15° cooler in the shade. There is a huge difference between an unbearable 100° and a lovely 85°. Can’t find shade? Make your own! Bring an umbrella to the beach, put a sail shade over your pool, or put an awning over your patio. If you can find some shade and a nice breeze (don’t have a hard time finding wind here!) you are sittin’ pretty.