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5 Ways to Chill Out

Heal
water glasses

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If that weather report involves the term, “scorcher,” here are some natural ways to cool off.

I thought it was hot the other day at my home in midcity Los Angeles, with a reading of 105 degrees. Ha, chimed in my friends, who not far from me noted 114 and 113 degrees respectively. In Van Nuys, it officially hit 117. No matter where you live, though, climate change is creating hotter temperatures than ever and the need to cool down in summer is becoming urgent. For this week’s Healthy Habit, let’s look at five completely natural ways to keep your cool.

Adjust the pitta. In Ayurvedic medicine, hot months are associated with imbalances of pitta. Practitioners suggest eating watery, moist foods such as steamed veggies, sweet fruit such as cherries, and sipping cucumber slices in water. Lay off of light/dry foods like coffee and chips with salsa, as well as sour foods such as yogurt and sour cream.  

Sleep on bamboo. That foam mattress you sleep on is likely trapping your body heat. Some people swear by a bamboo sleeping mat, either placed on top of the sheets or just under the fitted sheet. You can find them on Amazon.

Get a leg up. With heat comes puffiness and swelling of the legs and ankles. Combat that with a soothing 10 to 15 minutes of Viparita Karni (also known as “Legs Up the Wall pose). Lay on the ground with your legs up against the wall so the body is an L shape. Fantasizing about the Alps in winter is optional.  

Rethink your landscaping. In Phoenix, where the temperature is 100 degrees or more at least 100 days a year, city officials are moving to add more shade, with a goal of 25 percent cover by 2030, reports NPR. Trees and fountains “are a form of preventive health,” Aimee Williamson told the news organization. You’ll need to choose trees that are right for your climate zone, but a good shade tree, in the right location, can cool your home so much it will slash your energy bill by up to 30 percent.

Take the plunge. Many cultures and yoga teachers encourage the practice of taking cold showers as a way to detox. Some studies have indeed shown that a brief, icy shower improves the immune system, as well as mood and alertness (once you stop cussing). With the mercury rising, now is an ideal time to try the habit. Turn on the cold tap and get on in there for at least 60 seconds. Tip: This is a cold plunge, not the time to wash your hair, though a little peppermint soap will add to the cooling feeling. This is more of a morning ritual.  Hey, at least you’ll start the day feeling cool and comfortable.


Kathryn Drury Wagner

Kathryn Drury Wagner is a writer and editor based in Los Angeles. She is the author of Hawaii’s Strangest, Ickiest, Wildest Book Ever!, a science and natural history “gross out” for young readers.  


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