When the temperature feels unbearable, try these simple mind tricks to find some cool relief

Our brains are complicated things – but did you know that they can also be quite easily tricked?

The power of suggestion is a fascinating area of scientific research, and what many studies have pointed to is the way in which our ‘response expectancies’ – the way in which we anticipate the way we, or others, will respond to a scenario – is key to the function of this mind-trick. The expectations that we already have in place

Take placebo medicine, for example. The placebo effect is well-known and is an example of the power of suggestion in action. But, what’s really interesting is that ‘deliberate suggestion’ – when we’re aware that we’re taking part – can be just as effective as when we don’t know. For example, affirmations – short simple mantras that we can repeat either aloud or in our heads – have been shown to boost our self-esteem.

So, how can we apply this to keeping cool in the hot weather? We’ve got some ideas…

1. Listen to the sounds of a snow blizzard

Grab your headphones, and press play on the sound of a snow blizzard. Close your eyes and imagine standing in a white forest as the wind whistles through the branches and the snow settles on the forest floor around you. Take some long, deep, deliberate breaths as you do so to maximise the relaxing effect that soundscapes like this one can have on our minds.

Tune in for a quick, cool break, or quietly play these tracks while you fall asleep at night.

2. Try a cooling mediation

We all know the feeling of being hot and bothered. Our irritation levels are up and our resilience levels are down. We feel frazzled, frustrated, and ready to tip over the edge.

Mediation is an excellent tool for dealing with a range of mental health and wellbeing experiences – and it’s also a practical option for dealing with being hot and bothered. A guided meditation, like the one below, is all about taking some time to pause, slow down, and take back control.

When we get wound up when the weather is hot, it can make us feel even hotter. So, take some time to sink into some deep relaxation and feel your body let go of any tension it may have been holding on to.

3. The power of distraction

If meditation and mindfulness aren’t your thing, there are other things you can do to take your mind off the heat and cool your body down. Sometimes, when we become over-focused on how hot we feel, it can make the experience so much worse. This is where distraction comes in.

When choosing an activity to distract yourself with, try to make it low-energy – now is not the time to tidy the house or get on with any strenuous DIY. Instead, try to pick an activity you enjoy that has some mindful qualities. For example, journaling, reading, listening to mellow music, or just doodling on a blank piece of paper. If you’re able to break through any rumination on the heat, and let yourself be totally immersed in what you’re doing, these activities should have a similar effect to meditation – so many a great option for those who struggle with it.

4. Recreate the Hawthorne Effect

The Hawthorne Effect refers to the way in which individuals who are noticed, watched, or paid attention to alter or improve their behaviour simply because they are being studied. So, why not recreate the effect for yourself?

Imagine someone who deals really well with the hot weather (perhaps you know someone in your life, or maybe you need to use a bit of creativity). How might they be behaving right now? What would their breathing, movement, and mindset be like? They are the ideal student – so, copy them.

Imagine you’re being assessed on how well you cope with the heat, or you could even ask someone to play this role for you. How does your behaviour change now that you’re under scrutiny? Before you know it, you could be an A-grade student in this class on keeping cool.