Curiosities & Events

How to survive a heatwave while being stuck at the office

11 August 2021

Dutch summers are truly schizophrenic. One day you’re wearing a thick coat, boots and a scarf, the next you’re walking around practically naked. The latter is obviously what’s going on at the moment, as we’re in the middle of our first heatwave of the year. And if you are smart, you’ll take some days off and lay yourself down near the gorgeous, cool water of our Northsea or one of our many lakes, ponds, pools, canals, ‘slootjes’ or ‘grachten’. But, if you’re like the majority of the people in our tiny frog country, you’re probably working. At an office without aircon, ‘cus us Dutchies don’t really ‘do’ air conditioning. So here’s how to survive a heatwave while being stuck at the office without an amazing cooling system.

1. Wear something light, loose & breezy

If you work at a ‘hip & young’ company, you’re in luck as you’re probably allowed to wear pretty much anything you like. Doesn’t mean you should walk around half-naked in your swimming trunks, but you can leave your suit and tie at home. Try to wear slippers, flip-flops, heels, sandals or kick off your shoes and go barefoot: anything that lets some fresh air get to your feet and ankles will make you feel much cooler. Clotheswise, go for loosely fitting, lighter (both in fabric and colour) things, as they ventilate better. 

2. Impersonate a sloth

This doesn’t mean you get to take naps and hang onto trees all day (please don’t – we’ve got too many Eikenprocessierupsen – Oak processionary moths – at the moment, and you’ll get a nasty, very itchy rash), but moving like a sloth is a very good idea in this heat. Slowly and controlled, without any swift movements: preserve that energy for your brain. The faster you move, the warmer you get. Don’t forget to actually get up out of your chair and move (slowly) every hour or so, as this will help with your blood circulation and your body cool itself. 

3. Fan yourself

If your boss hasn’t already gone out and bought some (extra, big) ventilators, get one (or more) yourself. Long live technology: nowadays you can buy desk fans with a USB port. They cost peanuts and give instant relief. Cheapstake or oldskool? Get yourself an old-fashioned hand fan. If you’re a fan (haha) of certain types of ‘harder’ style ‘dance’ music and experienced festivalgoer, you’ll probably have one lying around at home. Fan yourself! 

4. Hydrate

An absolute no-brainer, but try to stay hydrated. Drink at least twice the amount of water you would normally. Doubledown on coffee, as caffeine works counterproductive. Or double up: with every coffee, drink a glass of water. Tip to drink more water: grab a large (1,5 litre) bottle and keep it within eyesight. 

5. Do a Frozen

In the heat, avoid any situation that could get you (more) heated. When finding yourself getting into a potentially stressful situation, do a Frozen: let it go, let it go. Put it on the back burner and address the situation when it’s a bit cooler. Or raining (next week, probably.)

6. Ventilation

For obvious reasons: open doors and windows, keep blinds shut and ventilate the space you work in. 

7. Hot drink

It might sound a bit contradictory, but when you have warm drinks and food on a hot day, your body actually cools down. A cup of tea or a bowl of soup at lunchtime: they make sure your body cools itself down actively. 

8. Eat your (spicy) veggies

Basically, anything that makes you sweat will cool you down, so the same goes for food: spicy works cooling. Besides that, anything that contains a lot of water is great (cucumbers for the win). Avoid any ‘heavy’ foods, full of carbs and protein, as these will not only make you feel bloated and full, they are hard(er) for your body to digest, causing it to have to work harder. And a harder working body means a ‘hot’ one (normally not a bad thing), but in this case: you really don’t need to feel hotter at the moment. 

9. Water fight

When you’re one of the lucky ones working at one of those ‘hip’ companies; organize a water fight at lunchtime. Don’t forget to go outside, otherwise, your boss might not be so pleased. Not in the position to go out and dunk a bucket of water on your boss’s head? Walk over to the tap often, rinse your wrists and ankles and splash cold water in your face and neck. Instant cooling-down effect! 

10. Flip the switch

Last but not least: turn off any appliances, machines and/or lights you don’t directly need. By eliminating any source of excess heat, your surroundings will obviously get less heated. Happy working heatwave, people!

Thanks for reading!

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