Body

12 clever ways to stay cool this summer

That don't involve an expensive air-conditioning bill.

By Yours team

1. Add Celtic sea salt to water

Sea salt contains lots of essential minerals and nutrients that your body needs on a daily basis. When added to water, it satisfies your thirst as the natural mineral content holds more water in your body, keeping you hydrated. "Add some to your water bottle first thing in the morning and drink it throughout the day to stay cool," says naturopath Karina Francois.

2. Turn off appliances

Unless you absolutely need them, avoid using heat-generating appliances such as stoves, microwaves and washing machines during the hottest part of the day. Instead, use them at night or first thing in the morning when it's not yet as hot. "At night-time, incandescent light bulbs can also generate heat, as can computers, tablets and mobile phones," Karina explains.

3. Stay ahead of your thirst

Don't wait until you feel thirsty to have a drink because by that time you may already be dehydrated. "As a rule of thumb, drink enough fluids throughout the day so that your urine remains light. When it's dark, it means that your body is concentrating fluid and this can put added strain on your kidneys," Dr Magdalena Simonis, general practitioner at the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, explains.

4. Leave chores for another day

Give yourself permission to put off some tasks for a cooler day. "Everyone copes with the heat differently, and some people can't control their body temperature at all – it just depends on the person," Karina says. "If you have signs of dehydration, or you're not coping with the heat, there's always tomorrow to clean and do chores."

5. Dress for the heat

In addition to wearing loose clothing, go for natural fibres to ensure you don't sweat excessively. "Anything that doesn't trap moisture is going to help you," Karina says. "Choose fabrics such as linen, cotton and hemp, as well as bamboo and rayon. Just avoid silk and polyester." Also, buy a cooling vest – it lowers body temperature by using special chilling agents.

6. Eat more water-rich foods

Stay naturally cool by eating more water-rich foods. Many fruits and vegetables, such as watermelon, cucumber and tomatoes, contain 90 per cent or more water content by weight, meaning they can help keep you hydrated on a hot day. "Aim to have more salad on your plate, as well as fruit smoothies in abundance to stay cool," Karina says.

7. Ditch the doona!

"In warmer weather, it's really important to sleep on sheets made from natural fibres," Dr Simonis says. Remove your heavy bedding and thick mattress protector, which can retain heat, and replace them with lightweight cotton-weave sheets that allow body heat to escape. "People think that they can go to sleep with a summer doona, but it's actually better to get rid of it completely," she says.

8. Make DIY cool packs

Applying a cold compress to your neck, elbows and wrists can cool you down pretty quickly. "Fill up a water bottle and put it in the freezer. Then sleep with it just like you would in winter," Karina suggests. Alternatively, sleep with sheets that have been chilled in a bag in the fridge. "While the effect is only temporary, it helps to keep you cool," she adds.

9. Make your fan work harder

Improvise your own air-con by placing a wrung-out towel in front of a portable fan. "When the water evaporates it works just like an air cooler," Karina says. "Alternatively, place a bowl of ice in front of it. As it melts, the ice chills the breeze coming from the fan." Or try diverting the heat by facing your fan towards an open window.

10. Tweak your schedule

Match your schedule to the hot weather. "Get out of bed and go for an early morning walk or exercise when the sun isn't as strong. That way you don't have the direct heat radiating down on you," Karina suggests. Likewise, escape into air-conditioning by doing your shopping during the hottest part of the day.

11. Skip your morning coffee

While coffee can get you revved up in the morning, it can also contribute to dehydration. "Caffeine is a natural diuretic, meaning it makes you go to the toilet," Karina says. Try starting off your day with coconut water instead. "It's naturally refreshing and full of essential electrolytes, which make it better for natural hydration."