Whoohoo, summer is here! And for some regions it comes with yet another wave of severe heat. So, what can you do to stay productive when it’s hot out there?
1 Stay hydrated
When it’s hot outside, water is the most crucial resource. The human body does not overheat easily, but it requires water for every single function. Especially for your body-immanent air conditioning: sweating. The water on your skin evaporates, which cools the body. The more we sweat, the more water we need. So drink enough, eat vegetables, fruits and soups. When we sweat, along with water we lose minerals such as sodium or potassium. So during a heatwave it might be a good idea to refrain from your low sodium water and drink a variety of fluids instead. Juice or the occasional pint of shandy are just fine. Should you suffer from a medical condition which requires limited water intake, please check back with your physician on how to handle heat; and make the best of the other options!
Avoid ice cooled drinks. People in hot areas of this planet did not invent ice cubes. They invented coffee and tea. When you drink cold stuff, the first thing your body does is heating it up so it can be processed. That consumes energy, and your metabolism heats your body. That’s counterproductive. A special advice for those who have elderly neighbours, friends and family members: Elderly people often lose the sensation of thirst. Hence, elderly people dehydrate easily. And when dementia kicks in, they may simply forget to drink. Ironically, dehydration worsens dementia. Those people have to be actively reminded to drink enough. Please take care for those around you.
2 Don’t forget to eat
Many people do not feel very hungry when it is hot. That’s o.k. Have a good breakfast and then some fruit or sweets throughout the day. Drink calories if that’s what you need. Around the Mediterranean it is common to have the main meal in the evening when it has cooled down a bit. But if you have trouble sleeping when you are stuffed, try to eat several small portions over the course of the day. If you have any medical condition which requires a specific diet, however, you should always stick to your doctor’s advice!
3 Stay inside
Yeah, I know. That’s not what summer is for. But a heatwave is not the time to tan. You want to avoid both, sunburn and sunstroke. Sunburn hurts, looks painful and can lead to skin cancer later on in your life. A sunstroke is a serious condition caused by massive heat impact to the head which can lead to increased pressure in the brain. Don’t stay in the burning sun for long. Cool your rooms by keeping curtains shut. Substituting curtains with wet sheets helps cooling incoming air. Make use of your bathroom. Should you have a bathroom without a window, it will likely stay the coolest room in your flat. Always have some cold water in the bath tub to put your feet in. You can also use the sink and bath your forearms only. Or you let cold water run over your wrist, which can easily be done wherever you are.
My favourite place when it is hot outside is a museum. The various works of art are kept in stable temperature, so a museum is always air-conditioned. Why not battle the heat with some culture?
In some countries, in-home air conditioners are commonly used. Bear in mind that energy consumption is the main source of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. So what helps you stay cool this year may contribute to your kids needing more and more artificial cooling down the road. It’s like dieting. If you want to stay slim, you cannot eat the whole cake. And if we want to slow down climate change, we might need to turn to more traditional forms of dealing with hot weather rather than cooling our houses down to 20°C and pretend weather had no impact on our productivity and wellbeing because technology can render it meaningless.
4 Cover up
It might sound counter-intuitive, but let’s turn once more towards people from the desert. They do not go half-naked and burn their skin to leather. They cover their body to protect it from the sun – and the sand. While first and foremost you should wear what you feel good in, you might find that wearing a bit more fabric than usual might enhance your wellbeing during severe heat – because we just can’t always stay inside, some of us have to work or go shopping or simply want life to go on. It protects you from the sun and the layer of air between you and the fabric helps your body keeping its temperature stable. Wear breathable, loosely fitted material. Linen is as perfect for clothes as it is for sheets. And don’t be shy – wear a hat!
5 No sports!
This includes all kinds of physical activity taking place outside of air-conditioned rooms, except swimming. And as far as swimming is concerned: Don’t let the cold water delude you that heat is not an issue. The sun still burns down on your unprotected head and UV-radiation still reaches your swimming body. The same goes for wind. It might give you a good feeling when climbing that mountain while distracting you from feeling the dehydration. If you have to hike the city because it is your vacation, plan for regular breaks, cover yourself to protect your skin and brain, always carry some water with you, and stay in the shadow as much as possible.
If you are a well-trained, experienced sportsperson, you will be able to stick to a training routine much longer than less fit people. Nevertheless, check back with your trainer to adjust your training and nutrition plans to the environmental conditions and always play it safe. You don’t want to drop dead from a heatstroke just because you prefer running over Yoga. The heatwave will pass, and then you can go straight back to full power.
6 Turn your screen into the blue ocean
Have you ever tried looking at a picture of the ocean? Doesn’t it give you a fresh feeling immediately? I use a gif with an animated wave installed as my screensaver in summer, and it always works.
Clear blue cools rooms. Wear it, use it for accessories, install it as screensaver.
Bow to Mother Nature and enjoy the break
Many of our problems during severe weather conditions, be it heat, cold, storm or whatever have you, stems from the fact that we expect life to go on as usual, no matter what. That we do not have to adapt to nature any more is part of what we consider civilisation. As an entrepreneur, you may have more flexibility in you organise your workday than an employee. Can you adapt to the weather and work less or change your working hours a bit to sleep through midday? Not only would that help you dealing with summer, the freedom to do so was also one of the reasons you took the leap in the first place, wasn’t it?