How to cool yourself down when it's hot

Susannah Hickling

When the weather heats up, it helps to know how to cool down

Close the windows

Heatwaves affect older people and those with long-term conditions more than most. So to avoid overheating, start with this counterintuitive measure—keep your windows closed rather than throwing them open. If it’s hotter outside than in, you’ll be heating your room, and not cooling it down as you’d hoped.

 

Keep the curtains shut

Sunlight streaming through your windows will raise the temperature indoors. Even walls and furniture can absorb heat. So draw your curtains on really hot days. But, if it’s hot and breezy, open the windows and spray your closed curtains with water. The air blowing across the wet drapes will cause the water to evaporate and cool the room.

 

Drink tea and coffee

It’s important to stay hydrated during hot weather. And while you shouldn’t drink too many drinks containing caffeine, there’s researched evidence that a hot cup of tea or coffee can actually cool you down. This is because it’s hotter than you are and will make you sweat. Then—as long as you aren’t wearing layers of clothes—it will evaporate on your skin and make you feel more comfortable. But ultimately cold drinks, especially water—not alcohol which dehydrates you— are the ideal beverages to glug down when the thermometer rises.

 

Stay downstairs

Even the least scientific among us know that hot air rises. This applies to houses too and on sultry days, you’ll observe that it’s noticeably hotter upstairs. On really hot nights when you can’t sleep, you might even want to consider bedding down on the sofa in the lounge!

 

Dip your feet in cold water

Fill a bowl or a bucket with cool water and dunk your hot tootsies into it. Spraying or running cool water on your wrists will help bring down your body temperature too. Take cooler-than-usual baths or showers.

 

Don’t use the cooker

Putting the oven on or having saucepans bubbling on the hob is only going to increase the heat and humidity in your home. If the weather is warm, then cold meals are welcome—prioritise salads, fruit, cold meats, raw veg. And if you want to get cooking, fire up the barbecue in the garden instead. You know what they say; if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen!

 

Eat for the heat

To be as cool as a cucumber, it makes perfect sense to eat it! Cucumber is refreshing and, being mostly water, will hydrate you too. Watermelon and mint are also ideal. Surprisingly, chilli helps you chill, as it makes you sweat. But cut back on carbs and protein; when digestion is forced to work overtime, you’ll feel hotter. 

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