Above: if you're able to, relax during the hottest part of the day
...and let’s face it, it’s nice to take a holiday from the routine! February’s a great time to get yourself back on track, so we’ve put together a few tips to keep you feeling healthy and well over the summer months.
Summer wellness tip #1 - When it’s hot ... chill.
It’s sometimes hard to admit, but when it’s 28 or 29 degrees outside, you just can’t push yourself as hard as usual! So do those hot, sweaty or outdoor jobs in the early morning or the cool of the evening (or leave them until a rainy day).
There’s a reason Europeans take a two-hour siesta in the middle of the day – because it’s generally the most unproductive time in the summer heat. Use that time as downtime: read a book, have a nap or just do lighter, easier jobs if you must.
And keep yourself cool. Make the most of air-conditioning or a fan if you have it, or find a shady, cool spot and take it easy. If you can, make the most of our golden weather and pop down to a local beach, pool or stream for a swim during the day or after work. It’ll cool you down, wake you up and it’s fun too.
Above: yes, cucumber slices can hydrate the skin around your eyes!
Summer wellness tip #2 - Stay hydrated
Seems obvious, but many of us simply don’t drink enough liquid to combat the toll that the heat can take on our bodies. So take your trusty water bottle with you everywhere, and get into the habit of sipping it regularly. If possible, rehydrate with cups of tea (especially herbal teas), rather than coffee - caffeine is a mild diuretic, which means it causes your kidneys to flush extra sodium and water from your body.
But it’s not just about liquids. There are also plenty of hydrating foods that can keep your hydration levels up and provide extra nutrients - especially during warm weather, when the body loses water and vital electrolytes through sweating.
The following foods contain at least 85% water, so they’re a tasty way to improve your hydration levels: cucumber, iceberg lettuce, watermelon, celery, tomatoes, romaine lettuce, zucchini, spinach, strawberries, cantaloupes and honeydew melons, kale, broccoli, peaches, carrots, oranges and pineapples.
Speaking of cucumber, yes, putting slices on your eyes does work! Cucumber has an cooling, anti-inflammatory effect that helps to soothe the skin, alleviate swelling and reduce puffiness, while the high water content helps to hydrate the skin.
Above: take regular short breaks - especially if you're not working in an air-conditioned office
Summer wellness tip #3 - Give yourself a break at work
Taking regular breaks at work, even just for 15 to 20 minutes, has been proven to sustain concentration and energy levels throughout the day. Yet a recent survey showed that only 28 percent of office workers take breaks away from their desk - which seems a real shame during the summer months!
It’s hard to put in a long day’s work in this heat, especially if you don’t work in an air-conditioned office. So take regular breaks – even if it’s just getting up to fill your water bottle or glass more often (see tip 3 above), and try to take at least a quick lunch hour - although don’t forget to apply sunscreen if you’re outside in the midday or early afternoon sun. And if you work outdoors, aim to stay in the shade whenever possible (especially between 10am and 4pm).
Above: New Zealand has a wide array of summer fruit and vegetables to enjoy
Summer wellness tip #4 - Lighten up with summer fruit and veggies
Who doesn’t love fresh, seasonal fruit and veggies on a hot summer’s day such as watermelon, peaches or nectarines? While fruit and veggies are plentiful (and so delicious!), adding more to your daily diet can help give you more energy, boost your immune system, improve your skin, and assist with weight loss too. Here’s some easy ways to add more fresh produce to your day:
Above: rather than baking in the sun, stay in the shade during the hottest part of the day
Summer wellness tip #5 - Take it easy in the sun
With New Zealand’s current weather pattern of long, baking hot days, it goes without saying that we all need to ‘slip, slop, slap and wrap’ more than ever. This especially matters between the hours of 10am and 4pm, but beware, the sun can still be surprisingly hot in the late afternoon and evenings!). Here’s a reminder of the well-known mantra – just in case you’ve forgotten!
Slip on a shirt - slip on a shirt with long sleeves. Fabrics with a tighter weave and darker colours will give you better protection from the sun.
Slip into the shade - slip into the shade of an umbrella or a leafy tree. Plan your outdoor activities for early or later in the day when the sun’s UV levels are lower.
Slop on sunscreen - slop on plenty of broad spectrum sunscreen of at least SPF30+. Apply 20 minutes before going outside and reapply every two hours, especially after being in water or sweating.
Slap on a hat - with a wide brim or a cap with flaps, as more people are sunburnt on the face and neck than any other part of the body.
Wrap on sunglasses - choose close fitting, wrap-around styles. Not all sunglasses protect against UV radiation, so always check the label for sun protection rating.
Here at MoleMap we like to add two more words to the list – ‘app’ and ‘map’. Use an app such as NIWA’s UV2Day app to check the UV levels every day, and book a skin check with MoleMap every year to ensure you don’t have any growing or changing moles after being out in the summer sun.
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