Summer heatwaves are fairly rare in the UK – but what if one hits when you have to revise? Christian Bace offers five revision techniques that will help you (literally) stay cool under pressure.
Let’s face it, revising and studying in hot weather isn’t the nicest thing in the world. As the BBC pointed out, we’re not exactly a country that handles heat well. However, there are revision techniques you can employ to make the experience more pleasant.
‘Yes,’ I hear you saying, ‘we know that we have to stay cool and drink lots of water’. True, those are the obvious things you should be doing regardless of the fact that you are studying. But have you considered:
1. Sticking a fan next to a window
This may seem a bit counterproductive as we’re always told not to open windows when using air conditioning, but using air conditioning is very different to using fans.
By putting a fan next to an open window you will be pulling in the comparatively cooler air from outside. Leaving a fan in the middle of a room with all doors and windows closed simply circulates the dry, musky heat that you’re trying to get rid of.
2. Books outside, laptops inside
Again, this is a bit of a no-brainer, but on too many occasions I’ve taken a laptop into a garden thinking ‘this time will be different; I’ll stay in the shade’. Laptops are vital revision gadgets, yes, but they really don’t like heat.
The problem, as you will know, is that it can be very hard to see the screen of a laptop (the same can be said about a smartphone) in the sunlight. The obvious remedy to this is to turn up the contrast, but this can add additional stress to power requirements and overheat the battery very fast.
The last thing you need in 30C weather is to have a hot body of plastic and metal on your lap.
3. Take a break from your studies with a tepid shower
Hear me out here. We instinctively go for the cold water in the middle of a heatwave, and the initial effect on the skin feels fantastic.
But your body reacts quickly to temperature change, and if you go from hot to cold that quickly you shut down the blood flow to the skin and trap the heat inside, rather than let it escape. Aim for a shower temperature in the mid-teens and twenties.
4. Freeze a sponge
No, really. Ice packs, when they inevitably melt, can have a fair bit of run-off and you don’t want that getting over your laptops and/or books.
A neat way around this is to make your own ice pack by getting an average bathroom sponge, soak it in water and freeze it inside a Ziploc bag. The end result is that you have an ice pack that absorbs the water as it melts.
5. Ditch the caffeine
A blasphemous sentiment amongst students all over the world, I know. Despite common misconceptions, caffeine does not dehydrate you, so that’s not the problem here.
But what caffeine drinks (including colas and tea) are known to do is increase the metabolic heat in the body and that isn’t something you need in this weather.
That being said, many believe that drinking a hot drink in hot weather is more beneficial to you than drinking a cold one. I won’t go into too much detail (mainly because I could not explain it better than this article), but basically your mouth and tongue have nerve receptors that tell the brain when something is hot.
Your brain reacts by initiating your body’s natural air conditioning – AKA sweating – which, in turn, will make you cooler. Since caffeine is detrimental, stick with warm herbal and fruit tea drinks, which will also help you unwind.
After more revision tips? Check out Dean Evans’s study apps post.
Christian Bace is AAT's former Online Community Coordinator.