Summer has arrived, and it’s HOT. The temperatures vary depending on where exactly you live, but for many states throughout the U.S. summer means heat waves, forest fires, and copious amounts of sweat. Plus, being hot can cause us to feel more agitated. Studies have shown that higher temperatures are linked to more human aggression. Changes in weather can negatively affect our moods, like seasonal affective disorder. This is a disorder that affects people during the winter months when days of sunshine are less and less. But did you know that there’s an opposite to that?
Higher temperatures are associated with an increase in feelings of irritability, jitteriness, and overall feelings of being uncomfortable and in a state of distress. One theory is that when people feel like they can’t escape the heat, especially with humidity, their uncomfortable disposition gets displaced onto others. So next time you yell at a driver on the freeway in the middle of a summer heat wave, blame it on the weather.
Science of Life
That brings us to Ayurveda. Ayurveda is an ancient Indian holistic healing system that focuses on the body and mind as a whole. Translated from Sanskrit, Ayurveda means “the science of life” and has been used far and wide in India for thousands of years. This healing system sees everyone as having unique constitutions, which are called “doshas”. Doshas are combinations of the five natural elements of nature, space, water, earth, air, and fire.
The three doshas are pitta, kapha, and vata. And because we’re talking about summer, the predominant dosha type that rules summer is pitta- which is fire and water. Pitta is known as being fiery and hot, and if not balanced, leads to anger, jealousy, and hatred. In the body, this can be seen as burning indigestion, red skin conditions, and inflammation. Those who fall into the pitta dosha can become unbalanced due to the qualities of summer. In Ayurveda, like increases like, so heat can make pitta doshas especially irritable and ill-tempered if not kept in check. To find out what dosha you are, take this quiz.
Regardless of your dosha type, here are some tips for staying cool throughout the blazing-hot summer months:
There’s a reason the saying goes, “Cool as a cucumber”. Eating foods like cucumbers, zucchini, leafy greens, celery, oats, watermelons, berries, and peaches can help keep our bodies cool. Hydration is crucial in the summer, so fruits and veggies that naturally hydrate are an absolute necessity during this time of the year. Herbs like mint, basil, and dill are all good to incorporate into your meals. This would also be the best time to eat as many raw, alkaline foods as possible.
Skin can get really irritated by the summer sun and dryness. Use coconut oil to hydrate the skin, either at night or during the day. Coconut oil can also be used as sunscreen, although it’s recommended to stay away from direct sunlight during peak hours. Your post-sun care routine will benefit from aloe vera cream or even a hydrating rose facial mist. Both are especially cool to the body and will help bring down any external inflammation.
Stay away from hot beverages during the summer. Caffeine is especially dehydrating so avoid or limit use. Coconut water, aloe vera juice, and fresh fruit juices are all amazing sources of hydration during these blistering hot months. You can drink refreshing herbal teas that are room temperature. In Ayurveda, anything cold and iced, especially in the morning, can dampen the digestive fire. It is important for our digestion to be strong and active throughout the day, which is why one should avoid cold beverages.
Lighter fabrics like hemp and linen will help your skin to breathe. Never lay around in wet bathing suits as that will bring too much dampness to the body. Wear cooling shades to counteract the vibrancy of summer- think white, soft blues, pastels, and neutral tones. Hats are good to wear out in the sun as they can protect your fave from the sun’s rays.
It’s best to work out in the morning when it’s the coolest outside. To avoid overheating, try nature walks, hatha yoga, swimming, and other water sports. Keeping the body protected from the sun’s rays and staying properly hydrated throughout the day will help the body from overexertion. Sweating naturally occurs faster during these months, so make sure you’re hydrating enough to balance out the effects of losing sodium and potassium.
Most importantly, allow yourself to rest during the summer. This season brings a lot of activity, and more sunlight, which can easily aggravate pitta. Make sure to still get enough sleep and keep the bedroom cool during the night to ensure a more restful sleep. Using cooling masks at night time to reduce inflammation on the skin will help too. Walking barefoot outside on the grass first thing in the morning also has a cooling and grounding effect on our bodies and nervous systems. However you decide to spend your days, just enjoy this season to its fullest and practice gratitude for all that summer brings.
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Photo: Yoann Boyer on Unsplash