How to stay cool without air conditioning if you are working from home

WWe are on track to have one of the hottest summers on record. And if you’re like many Americans who work from home, getting out of bed with 10 minutes to spare before clocking in can be convenient, but missing out on the luxury of office air conditioning can leave you feeling less productive.

In fact, there is science to back this up.

“There is research that has hypothesized that the brain functions better in colder environments compared to warmer ones because of the available glucose the brain uses, which is lower in higher temperatures as the body expends more energy to cool the body,” says family medicine physician Kim Yu, MD.

Working from home can also mean you are alone for long periods of time and sitting in a space without quality air conditioning. Without coworkers around to check on you, you could start getting heat exhaustion without even knowing it.

Heat exhaustion typically occurs after the body is exposed to high temperatures for a long period of time. Common symptoms include dizziness, increased thirst, profuse sweating, nausea, weakness, and muscle cramps. Dr. Yu says that if he begins to experience any of these symptoms after overheating, it’s best to go to a well-air-conditioned space and drink water. If you start to notice worsening symptoms, seek immediate medical attention.

“Heat stroke is also critical to recognize, as it can be fatal,” he adds. “Symptoms include a feeling of confusion, a throbbing headache, nausea or vomiting, very hot and dry skin, loss of consciousness or seizures, and a racing heartbeat. In those situations, call 911 as heat stroke is a life-threatening emergency and take steps to cool down immediately.”

Fortunately, heat exhaustion and heat stroke are relatively rare. However, even sweating while working from home can be quite uncomfortable. So, we rounded up seven of the best expert-approved tips to help you stay cool, even if you don’t have an air conditioner or fan.

1. Refresh your pulse points

Your body temperature is regulated by an area of ​​the brain called the hypothalamus. You can raise or lower your body temperature by determining how hot or cold your skin is, and pulse points have the biggest influence on the inner workings of this.

Because your arteries are close to the surface in your neck and wrist, applying something cold to these specific pulse points can help cool your body down quickly, says Ava Shamban, MD, board-certified dermatologist, founder of AVA MD and Skin Five medical spas. She recommends using an orthopedic ice pack or cold towel that can be put in the freezer and then worn around her neck while she works. She can also apply a cold compress to her temples and wrists.

2. Soak your feet in cold water

Just as applying something cold to your pulse points can quickly cool the body, immersing your feet in a bowl of cold water can provide the same relief. The soles of the feet and ankles retain heat, so changing the physical temperature of the skin in those areas is a great trick. And if a bowl of water under your desk doesn’t work for you, fill a plastic water bottle halfway, freeze it, and then roll it under your feet. You’ll probably want to wear socks while doing this, but bare feet are also totally acceptable as long as you keep rolling them. (No one on Zoom will know the difference.)

3. Close the windows and curtains

It may sound like a no-brainer, but keep windows and blinds closed on hot days. It can be tempting to let in cool air, but when you do this, you’re letting in hot air and direct sunlight that will raise the temperature in the room, and that heat can take hours to dissipate. When the sun begins to set and temperatures drop below 75, feel free to open a window, as this can cause the interior temperature to drop.

4. Stay hydrated throughout the day

With the heat comes sweating. Since our cells are approximately 70 percent water, dehydration can lead to a loss of strength and stamina, flushing, fatigue, and rapid breathing. No, it’s not exactly your ideal work setup.

Dr. Yu recommends drinking at least eight eight-ounce glasses of water per day, and even more if you feel your body needs it. “Health studies have shown that even mild dehydration can affect brain function and cause headaches,” says Dr. Yu.

Avoid drinks with a lot of caffeine, as they can dehydrate the body. But if plain water isn’t enough, try adding a splash of fruit juice or fresh mint to make it more tempting to drink. (Bonus: mint is known for its cooling effects!)

5. Unplug devices that are not being used

If you live in a small space and don’t have a lot of room to move around, all your charging cords, cables, and electronics can quickly heat up a room without you even realizing it. Make it a habit to unplug your TV when you’re not watching it, unplug your phone charger when not in use, and even unplug your coffee maker or toaster. Your electricity bill will also thank you.

6. Prioritize nightly recovery

Your nightly routine is a great way to set yourself up for success the next day. Dr. Shamban recommends a cold shower at night to keep your body temperature down overnight so you wake up refreshed. He also recommends opting for loose-fitting pajamas made of lightweight linen, silk, or cotton, and hydrating as much as possible before bed.

“We cool by convection, radiation, and transpiration,” she says. “All three support sweating, so you need to be hydrated to sweat enough to lower your body temperature.”

7. If you can, change locations during the hottest part of the day

If all else fails and you’re having trouble staying cool in your home, head somewhere with central air conditioning. Get your afternoon fix of cold beer at your favorite coffee shop or take advantage of the local library or free campus Wi-Fi.

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