Making Good Health Simple: Staying out of the heat does a lot more than just keep you cool

Five-year-old Jason Doucette of Concord takes a deep breathe before pushing off the edge of the Concord city pool in White Park on Tuesday, August 1, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) ELIZABETH FRANTZ
Five-year-old Jason Doucette of Concord takes a deep breathe before pushing off the edge of the Concord city pool in White Park on Tuesday, August 1, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) ELIZABETH FRANTZ

No one in New Hampshire is ever happy with the current weather we have. It’s too hot, too cold, too windy, too rainy, too humid, too not what they wanted. Bottom line, people, is that we live in New England and, more specifically, the heart of New Hampshire. These drastic temperature, weather and seasonal changes are precisely why living in the good ol’ Granite State keeps us on our toes. Don’t you love having a walk-off welcome mat outside of your house year-round? I keep my hiking boots, flip flops and Hunter rain boots all ready to go at a moment’s notice.

While July is always an exciting time, the true dog days of summer are yet to come. There will be those I think my skin is going to melt off days, followed by the why do I live in New Hampshire days, and the I wish it was winter days. On those unbearably hot days, you need to make sure you are taking care of yourself, your family and any furry friends that you may have.

According to experts, hot temperatures take a toll on our bodies, but they can also test our tempers. Many people feel a little hotheaded when the mercury rises, said Nancy Molitor, an assistant professor of clinical psychiatry and behavioral science at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

Hot and humid weather is known to be associated with increases in aggression and a lower general mood, Molitor said. That’s because trouble sleeping, dehydration and restrictions on our daily actives — such as being cooped up inside all day to avoid the sweltering heat — may all contribute to a worsening mood in warm weather, Molitor said. And a lack of control over the situation may further irritate some people, she said.

To beat the heat, use the following 10 tips to stay cool-headed.

The basics:

1. The most obvious is to stay out of the sun. If you have no choice, wear a large-brimmed hat, sunglasses and sit under an umbrella. Tricking your brain into thinking it’s cloudy out can help your body stay cooler.

2. I know it seems counterintuitive, but draw your blinds and curtains closed. Keeping the direct sunlight out of your house helps to keep your environment less steamy.

3. Use your own body’s internal cooling system that starts with your pulse points – the insides of your wrists, your temples, back of your neck and behind your knees. Use a cold compress (wet a facecloth and place in freezer or ice wrapped in a towel) on the cooling pulse point of your body. These are the areas where your blood vessels are closest to the surface of the skin. If you can cool off that area, the blood will be slightly cooler as it moves around the body.

4. Wear clothing appropriate for the weather and preferably moisture wicking (if possible). Wear the lightest fabrics you have and the softest colors.

Plan for the heat:

5. Make sure you are drinking enough water. If you don’t love water, stock up on a low- or no-sugar drink that can keep you hydrated.

6. Set up fans or an air conditioner to help keep your surroundings cool. If you don’t have an air conditioner, reverse your ceiling fans.

7. Find a place to cool off. There are several pools around Concord, parts of the river as well as swimming holes. There’s always the sprinkler in the yard, too.

8. Try to not run the stove, dishwasher or dryer. Any appliances that will contribute to the excess heat should be used as infrequently as possible.

9. Eat foods that are not hot. Spicy foods will raise your temperature and increase sweating. Eat cool snacks like chilled watermelon slices or popsicles.

10. Take strategic field trips. The sun is strongest in the middle of the day. Avoid being in direct sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Seek out air-conditioned spaces like the library, the movie theater or a museum.

No matter what Mother Nature has in store for us, maintain a positive attitude and create a plan to stay cool and safe. Pro tip: Eating some ice cream always helps control my temperature.

(Crystal Reynolds is an owner of 43 Degrees North Athletic Club.)

Author: Crystal Reynolds / For the Insider

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