Sometimes you want to cool down fast, whether you just finished a strenuous workout or spent too much time gardening in the hot summer sun. Try one of these hacks to set your body temp back to chillax.
- Hydrate. Dogs pant, humans sweat. Humans are the only mammal that sweats to keep cool and regulate body temperature. Sweat is mostly water. As our sweat glands release water onto the surface of our skin, it evaporates, releasing heat from our bodies. If you are dehydrated, you can impair your body's ability to release heat, preventing you from sweating. That is why it is especially important to stay hydrated when it is hot. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends drinking fluids before you feel thirsty, because by the time you feel thirsty, you are already suffering from dehydration. And, by the way, when it comes to cooling off, not all drinks are created equal. The caffeine in energy drinks, for example, can strain your heart, aggravating the negative effects of heat stress on your body. Sorry, but alcohol is a no-no as well, since it contributes to dehydration.
- Cool your pulse points. Pulse points are the places on the body where it is easiest to feel your pulse, because your arteries are located closer to the surface of the skin. The most accessible pulse points are located at your temples, the inside of your wrists, inside the elbow, on the side of the neck, behind your knee, in your groin and the upper part of your foot. Applying a cold compress to any of these areas can cool your blood as it moves through your body, helping you feel more comfortable. Have you ever sat by the side of a swimming pool or river with your feet dipped in the cool water? This is why it works.
- Remove clothing. Remember that your body's main cooling-off mechanism is via the evaporation of sweat. Anything that interferes with this process is going to make you feel hotter. Tight clothing and heavy or dense fabrics can make it harder for your body to cool down. That's why the CDC recommends wearing loose, lightweight clothing to beat the heat. In addition, light-colored fabrics helps reflect the sun's rays away from your body, while dark-colored fabrics tend to absorb the sun's heat.
- Head for the shade. Pretty intuitive, right? When you start feeling too hot, you naturally head for the shade. What's interesting is that the air temperature is actually the same—whether you are standing in the middle of a sunny lawn or resting in the shade of a tree. But it feels cooler in the shade, because your skin isn't being exposed to direct sunlight. When sunlight hits any surface – including your skin—some of the light is absorbed, which causes the feeling of warmth. One Arizona study found that the type of shade structure (tree or man-made canopy) did not significantly impact perceived comfort. In other words, when it comes to cooling off, shade is shade, wherever you can find it.
- Get minty fresh. Menthol, an organic compound found in peppermint and other mint oils, “tricks" the body into feeling cooler. Menthol doesn't actually decrease your body temperature, but it does create a sensation of coldness by sending a message to your brain. To experience this cooling effect, pop a peppermint candy into your mouth, spritz yourself with diluted peppermint essential oil or try a glass of mint-infused lemonade. Have you ever tried to sip a glass of cold water after chewing a piece of mint gum? If you have experienced that double whammy feeling of coldness, than you have experienced menthol's effect on temperature.