I spent a summer living in Ibiza a couple of years ago where the temperature was regularly in the mid 30s.. sometimes even above 40 degrees. Sounds either idylllic or awful, depending on your response to heat. Ibiza has the sea, swimming pools, blackout blinds, tiled floors, air con (sometimes) and siestas. How can you translate this into managing the heat in a British heatwave.
1) Embrace it
Half of our dislike of the heat comes from resistance. “It’s too hot!” “It shouldn’t be like this, I’m busy” are some of the thoughts we have when the temperature rises. These thoughts make us stressed and cross, and guess what? Yes, make us even hotter!
Practice embracing the heat. Feel it on your skin. Your skin probably feels more alive than usual as all the blood vessels are near the surface to cool the blood. Take a couple of minutes to practice a slow, relaxed breath to calm your system. Sit in the shade with a cold drink and your shoes off. And breathe.
2) Dress right
I admit it’s hard if you have a strict office dress code and also air conditioning. When I worked in banking, I took tights and a scarf and shoes in my bag and wore loose cotton dresses or skirts/tops with flip flops on the tube and changed when I arrived. Loose fitting clothes, shorts, floaty trousers, short sleeved shirts. Don’t worry about being fashionable, be comfortable. Denim shorts are not always the best choice. And don’t be afraid to remove most of your clothes once you get home!
3) Cold showers
It can be a shock to the system, especially when hot, but cold water is lovely. Start slightly warm and turn up the cold as you get used to it. If you can, take a couple of cold showers a day to reduce your body temperature, Before bed, you can even take a tepid bath. In Ibiza I took about 3 showers daily and also swam in the pool / sea at least once a day. Not possible here, really, although I’m tempted to go to Bewl and swim there one evening (although note this is not really allowed!)
4) Lots of fluid
When hot, you need to drink lots of fluid to stay hydrated. More than you think. Keep your water filter in the fridge if you can so its cold. Avoid too much coffee and normal tea as the caffeine can make you more dehydrated. Food also contains water: cucumbers, salads, cold soups such as gazpacho. My nephew informs me that “ice pops solve everything”. Avoid turning the oven on!
5) Chill out
The biggest lesson I learned from Ibiza was that when it’s hot, everything will just take much longer – and that is OK. You simply cannot run around like a crazy person when it’s this hot. Find the one or two mandatory things you need to do today and drop the rest. If exercising or doing yoga, choose a more relaxed and cooling practice that won’t raise your body temperature too much – even in the gym air con.
In Spain, we had siestas and I rarely ventured outside between midday and 5pm. Obviously, our British life is not structured in the same way; for example today at 3pm it will be 28 degrees, which is when parents around the country have to do the school run. But you can lessen the heat burden with hats, ice lollies, a shady spot in the park on the way home; and when you get home removing all your clothes and sitting in the paddling pool. With a life changing ice pop. All of these apply to adults as well, by the way!
And remember – it will probably rain next week and we’ll all moan about that too.