Surviving Southwestern Summer Burnout
I don’t know about you, but here in the NM, everyone’s red, irritated and dried out by the end of the Summer. We’re chronically thirsty, many people are perpetually pink, and I can barely get my interns from the northwoods to come out from under the nice cool rocks for anything!
One answer is to lay in the river all day, and it’s certainly tempting to hide under a canopy of cottonwood and bulrushes until August burns itself out. More practically, I’ve learned a few practices in the last few years that can dramatically prevent and treat these chronic hot & dry conditions.
- Stay hydrated. No really, drink a LOT.
- Don’t get overheated in the first place, do your hard work in the mornings and evenining. There’s a reason we’ve got siestas in this part of the world. If you do venture out midday, put a wide-brimmed hat on, and a light weight, light colored loose long sleeved shirt on to protect you skin. And get in the river when you’re done with whatever you’re doing.
- Don’t just drink water, drink mucilages. Make a mallow infusion or decoction and dilute it 1:1 with fresh water and drink as your beverage of choice all day. Nettles or Oatstraw is a nice addition to keep you mineralized/energized, but don’t leave out the mucilage! Drink this every day during the Summer and it’s sure to help prevent the dry everything disease.
- Keep your skin well moisturized, especially if you’re in and out of the water alot. For really dry skin I like Comfrey and Plantain infused in Sesame oil. For sensitive skin like my own I prefer Rose, Sage and Mugwort infused in Coconut or Olive oil. Anoint yourself religiously (yes, I know I’m being funny and don’t let the dryness start, cuz once your skin starts to crack it’s much harder to treat.
- Take your fish oil. EFAs are super important for skin integrity among many other things, so do your overheated flesh a favor and don’t forget the fish.
- If you do get burned take care of it right away, don’t just let sunburn build on sunburn. My favorite acute sunburn remedy is Rose petals infused in vinegar, dilute 1:4 in water and apply with a cotton cloth to the affected area until the skin loses a good percentage of it’s excess heat. After the acute phase, applying fomentations of Plantain, Mallow and Comfrey can be most helpful. And later, once the heat is completely gone and only the residual burn symptoms remain, a good all purpose salve with lavender can help restore the integrity of the skin and heal without scarring.
- A strong tea made with Rose petals and Elder flowers is incredibly healing for sore, burning eyes. You can also just lay moistened herbal teabags over your eyes and rest that way.
- Don’t eat too many cold foods and drinks, no matter how hot you feel. Those ice cold beverages that seem so appealing can weaken your kidneys and make your more vulnerable to exhaustion, illness and general immune deficiency. Eat cooling foods instead like cucumbers, a cool borage soup, stir fry with lots of veggies, berries, wild fish, lots of summer squash and other foods that are seasonally available. And eat lightly, overheating will cause you to feel overheated, heavy and uncomfortable.
- Carry a little spray bottle and portable fan around with you. Whenever you’re unbearably hot just spray yourself down and then run the fan for a few minutes, it works wonders when you can’t get to a river.
- Go barefoot and wear loose clothing. All that unnecessary fabric and matter holds the heat in.
- Lay in the plants in the shade whenever you get a chance, it’ll do wonders for your burned out, irritated self.
- Find a river and stay close to it.