Friday's storm, while a bit scary at times (it got really dark where I was in midtown Little Rock, so much so that a closet was cleared out and helmets put at the ready just in case), helped cool us off quite a bit from the level we'd been suffering through. But as we know in an Arkansas summer, that's only temporary, and as the heat rises again, so will tempers.
How to make it through? Well, I have a few ideas ...
If you work at home, adopt the uniform of a T-shirt and shorts (though you may have to wear something more "office-friendly" if you have to engage in much video conferencing ... but just on top). If your office has a relaxed dress code in summer, take advantage of it, but don't press your luck. If you work outside, keep hydrated and seek shade and cool breezes whenever possible. Not everyone is lucky enough to work somewhere where they can get a break from the heat, so be considerate of those who can't, and maybe get them some fresh, cold refreshment.
Ice cream, shakes, Italian ices, shave ice ... whatever's cold and suits your tastes, indulge, and don't feel guilty about it. I usually keep an ice cream pint and some Italian ice pops in the freezer; just a little bit is usually enough to cool me off. Frozen fruit is great, too, either as a snack, in a smoothie, or blitzed into a sorbet (I keep frozen strawberries for just this reason). I also rotate my water bottles, with one in the freezer with a bit of ice in it, and the other in the fridge. In the morning, I switch them, pouring the cold water into the frozen bottle while leaving a bit in the other bottle to freeze; that keeps me in very cold water for most of the day.
Learn to love seeing movies in the theater again. It's nearly always cold in the theater, and sometimes you might even need a light sweater while you're in there watching "Oppenheimer," "Barbie," "Sound of Freedom" or whatever movie floats your boat. If you're a massive introvert like me, it'll take a bit to work up the courage to be around a bunch of strangers, but it might be worth it. Or you can just watch movies on a streaming service in the dark.
Embrace kindness. Realize that you're not the only person who matters. Open a door for a stranger to get inside where it's cooler. Surprise someone with a milkshake or cold drink just because. Let someone in front of you at the grocery store, especially if they look harried and are having to wrangle other humans. Don't let anger be your first reaction to anything.
Be a kid again. Responsibility weighs us down, so let it go every once in a while for your peace of mind, which will make you not notice the heat so much. Put away your worries at least for a few hours and just be. Read a book. Play a game. Play with animals or kids. Watch a TV show you've been dying to see. Eat that cupcake or ice cream sundae.
Avoid social media that gets you hot under the collar. Twitter (oh, sorry, "X" ... for however long that lasts) is a cesspool, and Facebook can inspire rage if you've set up your circle to include not only misinformation and disinformation but also sources that play to hyperpartisan biases. Threads so far is still congenial, though lacking in features that would make it really useful (the sooner the better, Meta, before you lose momentum). Whatever social media you use, it's best to follow accounts that are calm, cool, and possibly funny. Countless animal accounts (We Rate Dogs, Out of Context Cats, The Dodo, among many others), gardening and DIY accounts, nature accounts and others will refresh your spirit, and that will make you feel not quite as sweaty and irritable.
Still at least a bit sweaty and irritable, though. This is summer in Arkansas, after all.
Yes, there's still a lot out there to make you angry, but you choose how you react. Are you going to insist that everyone live according to your beliefs and that the government ensure that, or are you going to realize that beliefs differ, and especially as concerns religion, the government has no business mandating that someone follow one or another belief system?
Maybe live and let live: If you aren't being personally affected by someone else's actions that aren't illegal, realize they have the right to live as they want to live as long as they don't try to force it on everyone else. (Ahem: Their mere existence is in no way forcing the way they live on anyone else. It's only if they try to make everyone else live as they do that there's a problem.)
I choose to accentuate the positive, whether that's time with friends, family and fur-kin, trusted news sources that back up their reporting with facts rather than opinion (if you can't tell the difference between a source's news and opinion, dump it), or websites and social media sites that place the emphasis on the good rather than hyperpartisan fearmongering.
Spending less time being ticked off without good reason is a good way to keep cool. Air conditioning and an ice cream cone will help too.
Assistant Editor Brenda Looper is editor of the Voices page. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read her blog at blooper0223.wordpress.com.