Summer’s just around the corner, and with it comes the heat and humidity for which Baltimore is famous. For many people, summer means bright sunshine (and its vitamin D), long-awaited beach weekends and vacations and outdoor activities such as biking, hiking and water sports. Going to the pool, wearing flip-flops and shorts and camping are some other favorite things.
How can you make the most of summer and ensure you feel good enough to enjoy it? Here are some things to do this summer in Baltimore — and a list of ways to take care of yourself and be able to enjoy the season.
- Why not check out some fun summer places and events around town? Some suggestions: Fort McHenry, the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore, Patterson Park, a nature hike at Lake Roland, Artscape or free outdoor movies.
- Keep your home cool. Just like you like to come back to a warm, cozy home in the cold of winter, keeping your home cool in the summer will provide you not only an oasis from the heat but will help prevent overheating when you do go out.
- Pre-hydrate. This means drinking before you get hot and thirsty. Optimally, hydrate before you leave home and bring more with you so you can replenish. Make sure you are choosing the right kind of hydration. Water is best, of course. Other good beverages for staying hydrated include water flavored with cucumber or lemon, iced green tea (or any decaf iced tea) or coconut water. As much as many people love an ice cold beer or chilled cocktail, alcohol will dehydrate you much faster than not drinking anything at all. So will sugary sodas and anything with caffeine.
Protect your skin. Sunblock comes in many forms now; spray-on is one of the more popular because of the ease of application. The higher the SPF, the better. And don’t forget to reapply it often, especially if you are active and sweating, or swimming. One bad sunburn can double your chances of skin cancer.
- If you exercise, choose where and when wisely. Do it early or late, or inside in air conditioning. Make sure to hydrate even more when exercising — before, during and after.
- Don’t get overheated. Take cooling breaks, especially if you are out for a long period of time.
- If you spend time in the woods, check for ticks when you get home.
- Listen to your body. If you are hot, find shade, a cold drink or take shelter inside with air-conditioning if possible until you cool down. If you are tired, take a rest or quick nap before going out into the heat. If it feels too hot and/or humid to go running or biking, wait until evening or early morning. Pushing through and not listening to your body will only leave you vulnerable to heat exhaustion. It often shows up a day or two later, in the form of general malaise, headache, nausea, fatigue. I can attest to this; I’ve had it several times (despite hydrating and staying in the shade!), and it took a day or two to show up.If you use good self-care, you can not only have fun this summer, but feel well enough to enjoy it.
E.B. Wexler is a clinical social worker, mindfulness facilitator and yoga teacher-in-training. For her blog and online offerings, visit endless-exhale.com.
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