Avoid direct sun exposure and strenuous work or exercise during the summer.

8 hacks to tolerate the summer heat

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As the season’s prickly heat dominates conversations, here’s a simple guide to help you tackle the soaring mercury with a smile

As summer returns, more treacherous than ever, everyone is scuttling for shade and hoping for respite from the heat. While conjuring rainfall might not be in our hands, there are workarounds that can make the summer bearable. Here is a list of hacks to help you keep cool in the hot weather. 

#1 Minimize sun exposure 
Avoid direct sun exposure and strenuous work or exercise, says Dr Rajeev Gupta, director, Internal Medicine at the CK Birla Hospital (R), Delhi. “Avoid overcrowded places and try to spend maximum time in a cool ambient, well-ventilated environment,” he advises. When out in direct sunlight, covering the head with a hat helps. One can also take regular breaks indoors or stay in a shady area to avoid getting a heatstroke. “Heat exposure can cause heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and potentially a heat stroke. One should immediately seek medical attention if any such symptoms arise,” he warns. If going out in the sun is inevitable, dip your hands and feet in cold water after returning home. This will help cool down the body faster because your wrists and ankles have pulse points where blood vessels are close to the skin.

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#2 Drink plenty of water 
Hydration is most commonly spoken about solution in summer but very underrated. “Drink normal water to stay hydrated throughout the day, as per the requirements of your body. Water has no replacement,” says Aarti Babhoota, holistic health coach, nutritionist, and founder of Yukah, a wellness initiative based in Solan, Himachal Pradesh. “In hot weather, it’s important to avoid caffeine. At times, if simply drinking water doesn’t feel enough, refreshing drinks like coconut water, nimbu pani, non-packaged fresh dairy or home-made sherbets from bel or wood stone can aid hydration,” she adds. Limiting one’s alcohol intake is also necessary as alcohol dehydrates the body. 

#3 Eat seasonal produce
Diversity of food should be your top priority while preparing meals in summer. Babhoota insists that making changes to your lifestyle by incorporating foods as per the climate, region and availability of local produce and not indulging in non-native foods, can be a game changer. “Listen to the needs of your body as per the weather and stay clear of processed, packaged, stale and pre-cut foods. Opt for simpler, more digestible meals that are balanced and have the right proportion of all nutrients. Also, be mindful of portion sizes,” she elaborates. Foods with high water content like strawberries, lettuce and cucumbers will keep you well-hydrated this season. 

#4 Exercise indoors
It’s imperative to not disrupt your workout routine too much because of the heat, but it is wise to consider the temperature while working out. It makes better sense to exercise when it’s cooler or move it indoors. Take more breaks than usual to make sure you’re not putting any extra stress on your body. “While exercising during summer, it’s important to hydrate yourself at regular intervals. Adding electrolytes to water will increase its benefits,” says Diksha Chhabra, a health coach and nutritionist from Bengaluru. “If you are a beginner, opt for a simple form of exercise like yoga, Pilates, or gym-based weight training is preferable,” Chhabra notes. Taking a cold shower after exercising will help you stay cool. 

#5 Keep your indoors cool 
Apart from relying on air conditioners, there are other ways to keep your home cool. During the day, cover the windows with blinds or curtains to prevent direct sunlight. Keep the windows shut during the afternoons to keep warm air out and open them in the evening when the air feels cooler. Doing this will help maintain a cooler environment at home.

#6 Have a sleep routine
If it’s too hot or too cold, your body temperature might get affected and impact your sleep. Taking a cool shower before bed can help bring the body temperature down and aid sleep. According to Dr. Gupta, one must get six to eight hours of uninterrupted sleep. “To sleep better, don’t exercise two hours before your intended sleep time. Avoid heavy meals, alcohol, or smoking before bedtime,” he says. Summer or not, going to sleep and waking up at a fixed time helps set the brain’s circadian rhythm. This not only helps you get better sleep, it also reduces stress. “Removing the television, mobile phones, tablets and laptops from your sleeping area limits blue light exposure and ensures a restful sleep,” Gupta adds. 

#7 Apply, reapply sunscreen
In summer, one’s skin and hair tend to suffer too. Heat rashes, hair fall and sunburn are common but preventable. Dr. Hitasha Patil, founder and chief consultant at Dr Hitasha’s Skin Clinic in Nagpur suggests adjusting one’s skincare products according to the changing weather. “For moisturizers, switch to lotion or gel formulations, so that it doesn’t feel heavy on the skin,” she says. Sun protection creams are a must as well. Go for mattifying sunscreens for oily skin and gel or lotion formulation sunscreens for dry to normal skin types. 
“Always wear a sunscreen that has an SPF value between 30 to 50 and PA value of 3 or more. Use an appropriate amount of sunscreen for your face, neck, and any exposed areas on the body. Reapply every three hours if you are outside,” says Patil. 

#8 Summer-appropriate fashion
The hot season demands appropriate clothing to make things bearable. Shubhi Aggarwal Vyas, founder of Delhi-based contemporary fashion label, Cuin recommends wearing cooler, lighter colours this summer. “Flowy and A-line dresses should be your friends this season, along with maxi skirts and wide-leg pants. Opt for breathable fabrics like linens and cotton. Linen is one of the best fabrics for summer and will keep you cool in the heat,” she explains. Vyas warns against wearing heavy fabrics like leather, corduroy, acrylic fabrics or heavier silks. She also suggests carrying a printed scarf as it can double up as head shade when you step out. For people having long exposure to the sun, Patil recommends investing in good UPF clothing (Ultraviolet Protection Factor), which gives ample sun protection via jackets, gloves, and caps. 

Fresh & Fruity Diet 
Aarti Babhoota, community director at the Vaatalya retreat in Himachal Pradesh, shares her summer diet tips: 

1. Consume locally-grown, fresh produce like Indian berries, mangoes, and watermelon. Eat them whole, instead of in a smoothie or juice, to get all the vital nutrients your body needs. 

2. Gulkand is a great natural coolant. Consume it daily to maintain your body’s internal temperature and to avoid acidity and bloating.

3. For lunch, incorporate summer grains like rice, wheat, jowar (sorghum), barley, foxtail millet and barnyard millet.

Aditi Sarawagi is an independent writer who covers wellness, travel and food.

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