Lifehacker Australia's guide to keeping your cool at work this summer

summerguy.jpgAs the temperature shoots up to 40 degrees and above, most of us are melting in our shoes and dreaming of escaping to the Antarctic for a few days. If you can afford to do that, go for it.
But if you're like most of us and stuck in the office through the summer, here's a guide to beating the heat and keeping your cool. Read on for Lifehacker's tips to choosing summer-friendly clothing and shoes, how to survive commuting hell, and how to stay cool in the office.
Dress for the heat

The three main rules here are wear light, natural fabrics, and keep your head and feet as cool as possible. Cotton or silk fabrics are a good choice - make sure you avoid synthetic fabrics like polyester which don't breathe. Linen is another option, although it's heavier than cotton and silk. Cotton is especially good because it's easy to wash - if you sweat then you'll be washing your summer work clothes pretty regularly!

Particularly if you're going to be spending time outdoors, white or lighter coloured fabrics which reflect the sunlight are a better choice than dark colours which absorb it and heat you up.  Loose fitting styles are preferable as they'll give you some ventilation on your skin. If you can wear short sleeves and won't be spending too much time in the sun, then go for it.

Your head and feet are very susceptible to the heat, so take care of them. If you'll be out in the sun, wear a hat. A light cotton beanie with a brim would be fine if you can't cope with wide brimmed hats.

Footwear should be open if possible - it's cooler and will combat sweaty feet. Sports shoes can get very hot, especially since we often wear them with socks, so avoid wearing them for a long period of time (ie to work) if you can. You may find that normal leather work shoes feel cooler than sports shoes. As your shoes are likely to get hot and sweaty, you may want to buy a replacable inner sole for them.

Choice of socks makes a big difference too - as with your clothes, choose thin socks in natural fabrics like cotton.

Surviving the commute to work

Even if you work in an air conditioned office, you probably have to deal with the hot hell which is commuting to get there. If you're not in an air conditioned ride to work, then dress coolly for the ride to work. If you're not allowed to wear open toed shoes in the office, consider wearing a comfy pair of sandals for the trip, then changing to your office shoes once you arrive at work. You could also consider wearing a tshirt and then changing into your office shirt once you get to work. If you're a business shirts five days a week kind of guy, you might want to keep a few changes of shirt at the office to make this easier - carrying suit bags to and from work is a pain.
It's important that you stay hydrated while out in the heat. Carry a water bottle with you - preferably one you can refill. If you usually carry a backpack, then get one with an exterior pocket for your water bottle - this saves room in your bag, makes your drink bottle accessible and keeps your water bottle from sweating on the contents of your bag.
This might sound old fashioned, but it works - carry a handkerchief for mopping sweat from your brow. Drinking gives your body permission to sweat, so if you're rehydrating as you should be, you'll probably be sweating too. The hankie will help you stay looking cool. Make sure you toss it in the laundry before it gets too unpleasant!

Keeping cool in the office

Many offices have air con, which is a plus. But many offices also have formal dress requirements which aren't ideal for the summer months. Here are some ways you can keep your cool in your cubicle.

1. Keep a supply of cold water at your desk so you can reach for a drink anytime. Keep a second bottle in the lunchroom fridge. This way when you've drunk the first bottle, you can refill it and swap it for the cold one from the fridge.

2. Where possible, drink water, not soft drink. Caffeinated beverages act as a diuretic ie they make you more thirsty. If you really don't like plain tap water, then keep a jug of water cold in the fridge and add a lemon or lime slice for some flavour. Another option is iced tea. T2 has some delicious fruit ice tea blends which you can make up in a jug and keep in the fridge.

3. If possible, have a cooler pair of shoes, like sandals, under the desk that you can slip on when you're at your desk. Keep your feet as clean, dry and sweat free as possible - avoiding synthetic shoe and sock materials will help, as will odour-eater type shoe inserts. No-one wants to sit near someone who takes their shoes off and shares their foot odour with the whole room, so use your common sense.

4. Remember that the hot weather doesn't have to be your enemy. Organise a group of co-workers or friends to head to the nearest beach on a Friday afternoon - a dip in the ocean as the sun goes down should cool you down nicely.

Remember the basics
Sun safety is a must - apply sunscreen to exposed skin if you're going to be outdoors for 20 minutes or more. A hat and sunglasses will help protect you too.

And finally - enjoy your summer!

So how do you keep your cool in summer? Share tips in comments please!


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