Keeping My Cool
I still find it mildly shocking when the thermometer goes above 30ºC (86ºF) in this country because such temperatures are unexpected on our temperate island and in many ways unwelcome.
For the past twenty-four years I have spent one or more of the summer months in the south of France where temperatures hover most days between 30-40ºCentigrade, but it never feels as uncomfortably hot as it does in London because everything there is geared towards staying cool, whereas the opposite is true at home where we spend all our time, effort and money on keeping warm. So I’ve learnt a few tricks over the years which work well for me and I’d like to share them with you. Staying cool becomes even more important as, with age, you may be less able to regulate body temperature thanks to underlying health conditions or certain medications you might be taking.
All houses in mediterranean countries are built with shutters. My house in France also had one metre thick stone walls and terracotta tiled floors, so as long as I kept the house closed and the windows shuttered whilst I was outside enjoying the sunshine, the interior temperature was at least 10º cooler than the outside without air conditioning. Our houses in the UK tend to have curtains and carpets for warmth but can still be kept cooler if you close the windows and curtains or blinds during the day and then open both at night to let the cooler air circulate. This will feel completely counter-intuitive. On a hot sunny day our first impulse is to throw open all the windows and doors and let all that lovely sunshine in, but unfortunately this will make your house much hotter.
Keeping cool on holiday may be easier but there are a few ways to cool off at home too
Sometimes there is respite at night as temperatures drop, but in the city this sometimes doesn’t happen as much as we’d like. Open your windows wide at night if you can and make sure that your ceiling fan is rotating anti-clockwise. Cooling bed sheets in the freezer (wrapped in plastic) may help and try half-filling your hot water bottle with cold water and freezing it so that you have something cool in the bed near your feet which can often become very hot and uncomfortable (and swollen). If you do wear night clothes in bed then you may like Cucumber Clothing
People who live in hot countries know that white clothes are cooler to wear than black ones and that loose, flowing shapes allow air to circulate around the body. Fabric is important too and natural fibres like cotton, linen and silk are much easier to wear in the heat than man made fabrics which tend to prevent the sweat that cools you from evaporating. I personally find a lightweight white hat with a good brim is essential to keep the sun from beating down on my head (which gives me an instant throbbing headache). Also my feet are a terrible problem in the heat as they swell and hurt, so I wear the next size up in something flat but reasonably supportive and avoid walking too far or sitting too long without short bursts of movement to stop my ankles from ballooning. Swollen ankles can be relieved by raising feet on pillows while lying down and you can also cool yourself quite quickly at any time by using ice packs or a cold wet cloth on the forehead or at pressure points - ankles, wrists and at the back of the neck.
Cucumber Clothing create clothes in breathable, cooling fabrics
Makeup and Skincare
Try keeping your makeup and skincare in the fridge in this weather. It’s much nicer to apply cool products to your face and it will also ensure that the creams in particular are kept in better condition. Do this with lipstick too - nothing worse than leaving your lippie in a handbag in the full sun to degrade the condition and melt it! Primers are your best friend if your face is going to become hot and sweaty as they’ll work to keep your face makeup from sliding off your face. I’d also suggest changing to our Light Look Beauty Balm which is lovely to wear as the perfect foundation when the temperature soars. I also like to wear brighter colours on my face for the summer light which is why I am loving our Bright Blues Trios of eyeshadows and my ‘go-to’ lipstick is Fuschia which really zings on a lightly tanned face.
Food and Drink
Water, water and more water. Keep bottles of water in the fridge so that it will cool you down as it rehydrates you. I drink Wimbledon Tap which I find perfectly acceptable but I keep it in a 2 litre plastic bottle in the fridge, partly because I prefer it really cold and partly so that I can monitor my intake - I make sure that I refill it at least once a day. If you are travelling, put ice cubes into a water bottle and top with cold water so that it stays cooler for longer. Eat cold food so that your house isn’t being heated by an oven or hob, but counter-intuitively, spicy food and hot drinks can both cool you because they cause you to produce sweat, the body’s way of lowering temperature. Some foods also contain lots of water, especially things like melon, cucumber, strawberries, grapes and leafy greens, which is why salads are such a good summer choice, however ice cream is best substituted for water ices (I do love a lolly!) which will cool you down much more effectively.
Out and About
Stay in the shade as much as possible. I no longer sunbathe at all having now had 4 or 5 Basal Cell Carcinomas removed from my arms, leg and two from my face. Obviously wear a high factor sunscreen if that feels right for you, but I prefer light clothing and a hat as protection because I quite like the idea of getting at least some Vitamin D from the natural source that is the sun. I’ve already advised taking water with you at all times and I’d also say take it easy and rest more than you normally would. Heat saps your energy, so maybe think of going for walks or taking exercise in the evening when the sun is less fierce rather than first thing in the morning. Heatwaves rarely last long, at least here in the UK, so you may just need to be really kind to yourself and enjoy a guilt-free break (think of it as a mini-holiday). I cancelled a trip into central London to meet a friend this week when we both agreed that the heat, especially on the stifling Underground, would kill any enjoyment we might have.
I am definitely Goldilocks when it comes to temperature. As I have aged I’ve started to really hate the cold but, as the Swedes say, there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes. I also find extreme heat unbearable and I am not alone. Research shows that high temperatures are associated with low mood, poor memory function, slower reaction times and lower productivity. There may even be a link with increased rates of suicide. Some of you who live in a properly hot climate will find all of this risible. Our ‘dog days’ this week lasted from Tuesday and peaked on Friday and the needle has already gone back down to my ‘perfect’ of around 25º. However as the climate changes, we will all experience more of these exceptional weather events and will need to find ways to cope. I may not be ‘cool’ in Matilda’s estimation but I intend to stay as cool as I possibly can whilst enjoying these lovely long days of midsummer.
Cucumber Clothing is a luxury clothing and nightwear brand for women, using a revolutionary intelligent fabric that keeps consumers looking and feeling cool. No need for ironing / dry cleaning. Shake out of your suitcase, wear, hand wash in the basin, hang to dry (wear the same day - super quick dry), no iron. We are running a competition with them until 30th June. You could win £100 to spend at Look Fabulous Forever, and £100 to spend at Cucumber Clothing
We are running a competition with them until 30th June. You could win £100 to spend at Look Fabulous Forever, and £100 to spend at Cucumber Clothing
Upcoming Event Information:
Upcoming Event Information:
Friday 24th June
Film Club - On Chesil Beach
Available on Youtube
Watch the film before and join us for a discussion!
NB: This will be our last Film Club of the summer & we will restart in September
Day: Friday 24th June
Meeting ID (if needed): 861 0928 8705
Password (if needed): LOOKFAB
Thank you, Tricia, for your usual fabulous words of wisdom. And you certainly look fabulous too. I've just received an order from Cucumber Clothing, as mentioned in your blog. The fabric is lovely and I've kept a pair of trousers for hot, summer classes of Pilates. Unfortunately I didn't read the small print, and have now discovered that I cannot return one of the 'sale' items, which doesn't suit me at all, for a refund - I can have a credit note, but there is nothing else I want from them at present. Therefore, I've had to write off £39.50 - so, ladies, just be aware of this and read the small print. Totally my fault - but I've not had this difficulty before. Kathie
Thank you for another interesting blog! I quite agree with you about our summer heat being much different from other countries! Too hot and too close. Let’s hope the summer is cool enough to enjoy xx
Yes, the Swedes have it right : there is no such thing as bad weather. Only bad clothes. A wonderful cooling blog although I disagree about drinking cold water and iced drinks. Having practiced Ayurveda for years, I know that ingesting cold drinks and foods is terrible for the digestive fire which is so important especially for older people. The other day I had a hankering for ice cream. Never eating cold food, big mistake. That ice cream gave me diarrhea. Plus, using plastic bottles is not only bad for the environment but the plastic can leak into the water. Use glass or thermo bottles. Only two other things. Compression knee hi hose keep down the swelling. Having found my ankles again, I wear long flowy skirts, dresses and pants. Wearing these hose is a paradox since the summer is when we don’t want to wear them, yet it is the season when we need them the most! Secondly, for you morning people, early morning walks are delicious. I walk along the beach where I live at 6.30 am. Just me and the seagulls in the cool morning air. Happy summer to all!???? xx
Thank you Tricia, I have taken note of all your good advice for when the temperature sores. We haven't had the very high temperatures in the North yet, but I am hoping we will soon.
No fear of high temperatures here in Yorkshire. We had about half a day of fairly hot weather otherwise we have had cloud cover and a cool breeze!