Snowflakes need help managing heat and humidity
July 24, 2020 5:51 AM   Subscribe

I hate humidity. I hate heat. It's been relentless for what feels like four weeks straight. I don't want to do anything. Everything seems on hold between the weather and the pandemic. Need help with practical solutions and perhaps a rosy way or two to reframe the whole deal.

I really can't stand it. My hair looks like shit and feels worse. My skin is oily. I like wearing make up, but there is no point when it slides off your face. I feel smelly even when I'm not. My skin sticks together. All my clothes are wrong in different ways. The kitchen floor is sticky and weird. Grooming my dog is just...gah. It's hard to put on bras so often I don't and that contributes to my overall feeling of dysfunction. It's tiring and tedious. It makes knitting kind of gross. It makes things I want/need to do, like start fall crops under grow lights, kind of 'meh'. I miss gardening. I've already read three books. I miss feeling like doing something besides refreshing Twitter and 5:00 cocktail hour.

I miss feeling comfortable in my body and on planet Earth.

Here is what I do have:
-Powerful small portable fans & a willingness to carry them from room to room
-Box fans
-Willingness to take multiple showers a day
-An air conditioned room to escape to, but again--it's more a matter of 'here is where I don't feel utterly gross but on the other hand, here I am on Twitter again'

Here's what I don't have:
-Maybe there is a better combination of clothes I could be wearing?
-Motivation to do anything (even non-physical labor stuff, like, err, finding a job)
-Products, powders...whatever it is that makes other people not so whiny and melty about this.
-Maybe a better way to deal with my medium long hair than hair ties and bobby pins?
-Any special touches? I do have flowers around.

Help me I'm melting and just got another weekly weather report indicating I can look forward to seven more days.
posted by A Terrible Llama to Home & Garden (36 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
Oh also: I hate air conditioning.

I'm a lot of fun to be around right now.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 5:55 AM on July 24, 2020 [6 favorites]

Well, at a minimum the fact that many jobs come with air conditioning might help with the job search.

I live in a place that’s hot and humid 365 days a year and I constantly have the AC turned on in whatever room I’m in. You may want to look at a portable air conditioning unit so you can do the same.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 6:00 AM on July 24, 2020

I also hate AC (I mean I'm glad it exists but I can't have it on all the time) and am having similar issues. I've basically just decided there's like 2 good hours in the day in the morning before it all really kicks in and just to try to do most of the things you want/need to do during that time. I'm in the NorthEast though so I don't know if that applies to more Southern places heat/humidity-wise etc.'s a season and it won't last forever (I tell myself, each year). I do gardening things at 8am while listening to something I like, it's literally the best part of the day. But I hear you, it's brutal.
posted by bquarters at 6:10 AM on July 24, 2020 [3 favorites]

Whenever I start to feel really cruddy I go swimming. Is there a non-crowded place you can go swimming?

Alternatively just get a inflatable kiddy pool, put it in a shady spot, mix yourself a drink.
posted by selfnoise at 6:15 AM on July 24, 2020 [2 favorites]

Wet cloth on the back of the neck (with hair up - try a clip just to hold all of it at once). Just do your eyebrows, you look put together but no goop sliding down your face.

Cool drinks all the time. It also gets you to stand up more often (to pee), so maybe it will kickstart your motivation.
posted by wellred at 6:16 AM on July 24, 2020 [6 favorites]

I give you forgiveness.

I am also a person who just CANNOT DEAL AT ALL with heat and humidity. I don't even like sunlight much. Summer is stupid and the worst and all of those hot weather apologists out there who come alive this time of year can fuck right off.

I also just moved into a house with central air for the first time in my adult life, and the difference it has made to my mood, happiness, etc is unbelievable. I had a couple window ACs at my old place but it's really not the same at all--I hated them too but it was the only way to survive.

The way oppressive summer weather affects me is real, has an actual detrimental effect on my physical and mental health, and it's not a moral failing. We don't blame people who need those special lights in the winter to combat their SAD. You can't blame yourself for being miserable right now.

Forgive yourself for the Twitter, forgive yourself for the lack of motivation. It'll come back.

(That said, lightweight maxi and midi dresses with no bra no underpants helps a lot.)
posted by phunniemee at 6:16 AM on July 24, 2020 [20 favorites]

I lived for 12 years in an apartment in the Lower East Side and I did not have an air conditioner. My current apartment only has AC in one room. Here's what I do.

* Invest in some of the peppermint scented Dr. Bronners liquid soap. There is so much peppermint oil in it that the menthol has a cooling effect on your skin. Use that when you take those frequent showers.

* If you live alone, double-lock the door and go naked at home. (My roommate has been traveling for the past month and this is what I have been doing and being able to do this is HEAVEN.) Put a robe or a quick-throw-on dress by the door in case someone knocks and you have to answer.

* If you have to have clothes, think loose weave cotton. Gauzy stuff. If it's REALLY hot try getting one of your layers damp and wearing it like that.

* Similar to above - sleeping under a damp sheet. Just damp, not wringing wet - get it damp right before you go to bed and then get under it. It's almost too chilling an effect.

* Damp-Rid units. This will tackle the humidity part of things - it doesn't have a MAJOR impact, but it does help a little. Get a few and scatter them about the house.

* Drink a lot on top of having a lot of showers. Keep a jug of water in the fridge at all times; you can get all fancy and slice up a cucumber for inside the jug too, so it tastes like that fancy cucumber water you get at a spa. Or go with peppermint iced tea - just get some peppermint tea bags (make sure it's just peppermint leaves in the bags, and that's it), drop four bags into a 1-quart jug, fill with water and then stick that in the fridge for at least an hour. You can leave the bags right in the jug. There are also plenty of recipes for old-fashioned lemonade, cherry lemonade, watermelon lemonade, old-fashioned sweet tea, etc; have things sitting in jugs in your fridge. I have also just found this recipe for a cucumber/mint/lime beverage; you puree the ingredients and dump it into a jug, and then to serve you mix it half-and-half with plain water. It also makes a base for a cocktail. Whatever - just drink a lot of beverages that are cold.

* For "small touches" - a couple of my "pandemic projects" have been about doing little crafty cute décor things, and a couple may suit. I made little suncatchers out of plain old glass crystals from old chandeliers (you can get a few at a go off ebay for like 5-10 bucks, depending on size/shape) and some fishing line. Just string up one of the crystals off a loop of fishing line and hang that in a sunny window. You may not mind the sun so much when it is throwing little rainbows around your walls. Another thing - I had a big bunch of old spare keys that didn't work any more, and some beads, so I turned them into a wind chime. Occasionally some of the draft from an open window catches it and it sounds really, really pretty.

* Closing blinds or lowering curtains during the heat of the day, so the sun isn't streaming in. I'm talking about mid-day - that's when the sun is most intense, and if it is coming in your windows then the glass is trapping the heat inside. If you just lower the blinds that blocks the intensity.

* Or, a bunch of sun-loving plants set right up against the window. They'll dig the sun - they'll give you shade.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:22 AM on July 24, 2020 [12 favorites]

Keep windows open at night so cooler air can come in while keep them closed in the morning when hot air would come in.

We recently discovered gold bond body powder, it absorbs moisture so it works on top of antiperspirant to remove discomfort from sweating etc.

You mentioned Box fan but getting a good quality fan can keep the air moving and feel less hot,
What about a cooling fan . You can get dry ice /cold water put it in front of fan and you can feel the cooling effect.

Related to last point, we have a Pain relief pad that can go in the fridge for cooling and microwave for heating. Works for both summers and winters
posted by radsqd at 6:29 AM on July 24, 2020 [1 favorite]

Here are a couple of things that have worked for me:

I found a mud pack sort of thing in Rite Aid that is designed for cooling. Really. It's a pack of mud encased in high quality plastic. It is designed to wick heat from your body and it does a great job. If you can find something ceramic to sit or lie on that also works well.

Water bed or water filled cushion is helpful for wicking heat as well.

When showering, if you can finish rinsing your hair in really cold water and wrap it up and leave it on your head for a while, it really helps cooling your cranium. Wrap a silk towel around your wet hair to extend the evaporation time.

If you can stay close to the floor, that helps. I like to lie on an air mattress on the floor with a fan on me and read during the hottest parts of the day.

Keep a spritzer of cold water in the fridge and a washcloth for wicking your body throughout the day. A cold water spritzed tank top feels good too.

I hope some of this is helpful.
posted by effluvia at 6:30 AM on July 24, 2020 [3 favorites]

I don't do heat and humidity well- no one in my family does.
I'm sweaty.

I take a lot of cool showers in the summer to rinse off. On particularly bad days, i can take 3+ showers, or at the very least I'm washing the crooks of my arms, the back of my neck and the back of my knees on the hour.

I find I need to wear a bra because the sensation of my boobs sticking to my skin makes me want to murder people. thankfully a bathingsuit works just fine if I am just lounging about home, and I can rinse those out in the sink readily (or dip them in icewater them so I can have cool boobs) sometimes I wear a sportsbra and stuff a soft icepack in it. (A++ for having to do stuff)

I drink icewater like it's going out of style. I drink lemonade, and iced tea, and iced herbal teas, and eat a lot of popsicles.

I don't go outside if it's humid and sunny. I keep the shades drawn. I adopt a vampire lifestyle, and make absurd theatrical comments about turning into a bat, or seducing maidens. on weekends I just don't do stuff during the day- I'll stay up super late on friday and saturday night and do my cleaning or practical mail sorting, or bill paying or whatever then, and then sleep in until noon. (obvi if you have kids your mileage will vary, but growing up my mom hated the heat so much she would take us on long drives just sit in the AC on a very hot day)

I also actually go into work early and stay late in summer. I do all my overtime in high powered corporate ac, and my colleagues who thrive on this weather are thrilled to cover me in the winter when they are miserable and I want out.

As to hobbies- I don't knit in the summer, I don't run if it's over 80 deg. My gardening gets done by headlamp, and I read a lot of books and watch a lot of films. I don't cook- we eat a lot of sandwiches, salads and fruit in the summer.
posted by larthegreat at 6:32 AM on July 24, 2020 [5 favorites]

It feels like your problem isn't totally the temperature, it's humidity. So, I would actually recommend much of the opposites of others.

1. Keep windows/doors closed at night, when it is most humid. Air out the house during the afternoon, when it's least humid.
2. Try to keep showers short with the fan on.
3. Run the AC with the door open, to dehumidize the whole house a bit.
4. Try to minimize any other very-humid activities, like shampooing your carpets.
5. Try to wear clothes that are breathable, and I do recommend the wet towel on neck trick. I know that's counter to all of the above, but the humidity from the wet towel is worth having the 60-degree towel on your neck.
6. Make sure your HVAC system isn't running the humidifier still from the winter.
7. Moisture wicking mattress, NOT memory foam, will help there.
posted by bbqturtle at 6:34 AM on July 24, 2020 [3 favorites]

Ugh, my sympathies - I'm not getting anything much done at the moment because of the heat/humidity either. Mostly I just accept this as as time of year I'm not at my most productive and try to cut myself some slack, but obviously that's easier to do with some things than others, and "postpone job hunting until fall" may not be a valid option.

Some things that are helping at the moment:

- I've given myself a quarantine undercut and it's so good, I clip up the top half of my hair and the bottom half of my head and my neck are so much cooler and more comfortable than they've ever been in the summer! It's bliss. Very possibly more drastic than you want to go but if it's something you've ever considered, it might be the time to consider it again.

- Trying to get things done early in the morning and then nap during the worst of the afternoon or go to bed early.

- Sometimes I can't bring myself to fuss with wet cloths, but I do have a little thermoelectric cooling device that I can put on my wrist or the back of my neck for a jolt of coolness that really seems to help. The one I have is the Menopod but I know there's a wristwatch version called the Embr Wave and I imagine there might be newer/better ones in the couple of years since I purchased mine.

- Minimal cooking. We're living on smoothies and fruit and sandwiches right now. When my partner does cook he picks things where he can do a lot of the cooking ahead of time in the morning, and then just do a quick reheat at dinnertime.

- Attempts to minimize sticky skin touching other sticky skin - bra liners, monistat chafing-relief gel, powder, not all at once but in some combination.

- Abandoning the warm end of the house for the cooler end of my house for large chunks of the day. I miss my living room but it's there for me in the early mornings and it'll be there in the fall, so right now I'm focused on arranging things so I can spend as much of my day as possible in the cooler rooms.

- Linen sheets and more frequent sheet changes make my bed feel fresh and nice to lie down in
posted by Stacey at 6:43 AM on July 24, 2020 [1 favorite]

When I feel like you do, sticking my feet into a tub of cold water is about the only thing that will bring me back down from AAAAARGH to ok. Sometimes I'll sit like that for hours, swapping the water when my feet have warmed it.
posted by london explorer girl at 6:44 AM on July 24, 2020 [4 favorites]

I hate A/C too. Just bought a dehumidifier.

Also been wearing a lot of long, light cotton skirts, which are far better than going naked because you don’t stick to other things, or yourself.
posted by the_blizz at 6:47 AM on July 24, 2020 [1 favorite]

If you have access to an outside space with shade and a hose, sit out on the porch/deck and just soak yourself.

If you have non-carpeted floors, lay down on the floor with as much bare skin as possible.
posted by notsnot at 7:02 AM on July 24, 2020 [1 favorite]

1. Keep windows/doors closed at night, when it is most humid. Air out the house during the afternoon, when it's least humid.

3. Run the AC with the door open, to dehumidize the whole house a bit.
4. Try to minimize any other very-humid activities, like shampooing your carpets.

It is not more humid at night; hot air holds way more humidity than colder air. The dew point (the actual measure of humidity, not the 'relative humidity' measure that is most common will show this to be true. Also, the late afternoon across most of the US during the summer is the hottest part of the day - from like 3:30pm to 6:00pm. So that would just make your house hotter and more humid.

Running the A/C with the door open is a bad idea that just wastes electricity. A/Cs dehumidify the air- that's why all that water drips out of them (or down your drain if you have central A/C).
posted by The_Vegetables at 7:39 AM on July 24, 2020 [3 favorites]

If you have a swamp cooler -those add humidity, but they are really only common in the desert southwest, where adding some humidity is helpful. If you have one in the south/mid/NE (from Texas to Idaho to Florida to Vermont) you are mostly wasting your money running it unless you are right in front of it.
posted by The_Vegetables at 7:42 AM on July 24, 2020

A basin of cold water for your feet helps. Also frozen grapes and frozen blueberries are nicely cooling - just freeze them in tiny batches so they don’t thaw too far in the dish.
posted by janell at 8:33 AM on July 24, 2020 [1 favorite]

I've lived in Florida my whole life and I hate the heat and humidity so very much. Most important tip - only wear 100% cotton everything. Any amount of synthetic fiber is going to make you feel sticky and disgusting. This includes workout clothes and bras/underwear. Wearing your hair up helps - I have curls so I can't do an undercut but I absolutely would otherwise. I just chopped my very long hair above my shoulders and I already feel cooler. We have a dehumidifier that helps but does blow some hot air if you're in the same room with it. Mostly I just take 2 showers a day and complain nonstop.
posted by tatiana wishbone at 8:40 AM on July 24, 2020 [3 favorites]

I actually got this from someone here on MeFi, so thank you to whoever it was.

Get a washcloth, soak it in cool water, wring out the excess. Stick it in the freezer, preferably laying flat- a couple minutes is fine, hours is better (the cold will last longer).

Stick the frozen washcloth on your wrists, abdomen, wherever you want. I like to rest it over my face when it's still really cold and stiff- the air you breathe in is nice and cold, but the stiffness of the washcloth early on doesn't feel smothering.

When you feel it's no longer helping, stick it back in the freezer. It's nice to have a couple of these going so there's always a cold one available.
posted by smangosbubbles at 9:21 AM on July 24, 2020 [5 favorites]

When I was living through Chicago summers with no AC, I had several spray bottles filled with water in the fridge. Pull one out, sit next to a fan, and spray yourself with a mist of cold water. When the bottle is empty, refill, and put it in the fridge when you swap for a cold one. I also hate AC, but having 2 window units (one in the bedroom and one in the living space) helped immensely and didn't feel like industrial HVAC that you experience in large buildings. I used fans in a chain to move the cooler around and the reduction of humidity alone was heavenly.
posted by quince at 9:45 AM on July 24, 2020 [3 favorites]

I bought a claw-style clip to hold my hair completely up and it's a big improvement over even a ponytail or braid. Trimming some length off also helps if you're up for that.

Also very loose, racerback-style sleeveless tops, with a light/unpadded sports bra. Frozen fruit for snacking, and ice water with an orange or lemon slice or fresh mint leaves.
posted by randomnity at 10:17 AM on July 24, 2020 [3 favorites]

When I'm hot and sweaty, I turn into even more of a monster.
Here are my tips:
* keep the hair off the back of your neck. Get that hair up any way you can.
* Blotting papers don't do squat, plus they tear. Fill a squirt bottle with one third rubbing alcohol, one third witch hazel, and one third rosewater. Spritz on your face, down your cleavage, anywhere you need a cooling jolt.
* Inactivity combats most sweat. Lie on the sofa and watch Monk, starting from Season 1.
* Eat cold salads from take-out places. Do NOT heat up the kitchen; there is never a need to cook.
* Keep things off your waist: pair linen or cotton floaty dresses with low-rise undies.
When I have elastic on my waist on a hot day, I'm ready to charge out and bust heads, and I would if it weren't such a sweat-making effort.
posted by BostonTerrier at 10:27 AM on July 24, 2020 [2 favorites]

I use cooling towels rather than washcloths, both towel-type and neckerchief type (and you can find these in cheap lots/cases on industrial products sites because they're made for people working with power tools who can't use a loose-ended cooling towel; ALSO make excellent headbands - if I'm going to be gardening I put 3-4 of these in water in the fridge the night before or when I first get up, so they're hydrated and cold when I'm ready).

I use large cooler ice packs, I prefer the hard-side type, or ice sheet though they're delicate, to bag-style that freeze in odd shapes sometimes. Wrap in a towel and sit back against it with your upper or lower back, or rest your feet on it (seriously wrap it well in a towel, use big rubber bands or put it wrapped inside a pillowcase to hold it on, as you can get frostbite).
posted by Lyn Never at 10:45 AM on July 24, 2020 [1 favorite]

We do not have central air, and I hate window units too, but we have them installed in high use rooms. I've been turning on the AC in the room I am not in, eg. if I am eating lunch in the kitchen, the AC is precooling my office room. Then the office is cool for the afternoon and I can turn it off in there. While I'm working in the office, the AC in the kitchen is on, so it's cool by the time I have dinner. It sounds complicated but it works pretty well.

We are getting overnight lows of ~80F, so definitely not cool enough to bother opening windows; that really depends on the weather where you are located.
posted by sizeable beetle at 11:00 AM on July 24, 2020 [3 favorites]

You know how people tell someone going through a breakup to clean their kitchen or do their taxes, because "you already feel terrible, you can't feel MORE terrible, so go ahead and do all those things you wouldn't do because they're terrible"?

That's been my approach to the heat this summer. I figure I'm already hot, sweaty, angry, tired, depressed, and miserable. May as well go for a 3 mile run/scrub the bathtub/bake a cake. At the end I'll be hot, sweaty, angry, tired, depressed, and miserable, but I'll have run 3 miles/have a clean bathtub/baked a cake. It's so hot here (often getting up near 100, with high humidity) that the incremental increase in heat/sweat barely registers, tbh.

And then you can take a cold shower and lie on the couch and complain, knowing you earned it.

Can't really help with the hair or the makeup. I will say that having the super extra oily greasy skin is making it easier for my face to tolerate a bunch of weird skincare shit though, so if you were thinking about getting on retinols or something now might be the time.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 11:32 AM on July 24, 2020 [4 favorites]

Two things that help me are:

-using ceiling fans. Can you swap out an overhead light fixture for a ceiling fan in any room?

-running cold water over my wrists. A lot of blood moves through the veins in our wrists, and heat moves out of the blood and into the cold water. It helps briefly but very quickly. Same logic with an ice pack on the back of the neck.

Good luck!
posted by happy_cat at 11:49 AM on July 24, 2020 [1 favorite]

Thanks everyone. These are great. I especially appreciate the validation that indeed, this sucks.

Alternatively just get a inflatable kiddy pool, put it in a shady spot, mix yourself a drink.

We have a plastic kiddie pool and cocktails involve putting feet in fresh icy water in the shade. That kiddie pool, which we bought for five dollars at Walmart in 2014, has brought us so much delight. I think I make the same comment every day to my husband that there are a lot of life lessons in the magic of that kiddie pool.

I made little suncatchers out of plain old glass crystals from old chandeliers

Weird...I was literally doing this as I wrote this this AM. I wound up hanging them from wires on tree branches in the shade garden. They shimmer like big rain drops when the light catches them. Is today National-Do-Something-With-Stray-Chandelier-Crystals Day because it's too humid to do anything else??
posted by A Terrible Llama at 11:56 AM on July 24, 2020 [4 favorites]

Corn starch makes a bra possible, and is so helpful for any areas that want to chafe. Lots of corn starch. It's cheap and safe.
I have strategies for fans to move heat up and out of the house, and to pull in cool air at night. But nothing cools better than a fan pointed at you.
Never run out of ice. Make slushies, iced tea, ice water, etc. All my writing pads are wrinkly because I use them as coasters. Keep bottles of water in the freezer, refill as needed. Put a bottle of frozen water on your neck, lap, hold it in your hands, put it in front of the fan pointing at you. Refreeze.
Wash your face and neck often, maybe wipe down your arms.
I have some light cologne/spray that smells like grapefruit. I spritz the house when it seems gross. The flavor is not important, the house smelling fresh is, but I hate most air freshening stuff.
Evaporation makes things cooler. I have long hair and don't own a hair dryer. A long damp braid is effective. (in winter too, different strategies apply.) Spritz yourself with water, esp. hair.
posted by theora55 at 12:12 PM on July 24, 2020

There are cooling vests. Some you soak with water and they cool via evaporation (I've tried one and it works reasonably well). Some have cooling packets you put in the freezer.

Here's a review of Sony's new Reon "wearable A/C" that uses a Peltier device for cooling.
posted by ShooBoo at 12:31 PM on July 24, 2020 [1 favorite]

How well you deal with the heat is not a fixed thing: exercising in the heat helps you get heat adapt. You increase the capillaries in your skin so you can cool off more easily, and other physiological changes I don't remember. So maybe regular exercise in the heat where feeling gross is all part of the process of adaptation!
posted by medusa at 12:41 PM on July 24, 2020

I work in the sun, and boy does it suck a lot of the time. I carry two handkerchiefs, which I repeatedly wet down throughout the day. One goes on my head under a huge gardening hat, and the other is tied around my neck.

I usually have them sopping-wringing wet when out in the fields so they don’t evaporate quickly, but it works so well I do a way-less-sopping version (without the big hat) inside when I don’t wanna run the AC.
posted by functionequalsform at 4:40 PM on July 24, 2020

I like electrolyte popsicles, the store-bought ones.
posted by Iris Gambol at 6:07 PM on July 24, 2020

I lived in the tropics for a while. A one-piece wet bathing suit! For modesty's sake, add shorts or a skirt. When the suit dries, or you find yourself getting hot, just dump it under the tap a sec. If you want, you can sit on a damp towel too, for extra cooling. The wet-bathingsuit-solution [TM] will keep your whole body cool, and make you feel normal, even, dare I say, nice, especially if you've got a fan blowing nearby. You can even sleep that way.
posted by Violet Blue at 10:39 PM on July 24, 2020

phunniemee: (That said, lightweight maxi and midi dresses with no bra no underpants helps a lot.)

I bought a floor length cotton housedress and have been living in it, with only cotton high-waist underpants underneath. This sanity-saving garmenr doesn't touch any part of my body. It's like a tent with (short) sleeves. Heaven.
posted by virago at 6:21 AM on July 25, 2020 [2 favorites]

Heat is horrible. My only tip is that I have found it helpful to read books set in really cold weather. In the Bleak Midwinter is one that has worked for me.
posted by paduasoy at 1:42 AM on July 26, 2020

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