How to have fun this summer despite Covid-19 and extreme heat

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By Scottie Andrew, CNN Artwork by Leah Abucayan, CNN

(CNN) — It really is a cruel summer.

It’s not summer to kiss strangers or gallop around all day until the sun goes down. Nope; this summer, we’re drowning again in the oceans of our own sweat, thanks to dangerously high temperatures, and hiding anxiously from the latest variant of Covid-19.

We may not be able to beat the heat (or the existential fear), but hey, we can still have fun. Here’s how you can enjoy the rest of the summer that won’t put you down as high risk of Covid-19 infection and heat exhaustion.

(Note: Very few activities are absolutely risk-free when it comes to catching Covid-19, so be careful, especially if you do any of these activities with others. CNN expert, Dr. Leana Wen, has tips for staying safe during this latest Covid -19 surge.

Spending time outdoors during periods of intense heat can also be dangerous, so familiarize yourself with the symptoms of heat stroke, rash and heat exhaustion. CNN Health also offers tips on how to stay out of the heat.)

Outside

Catch the sunrise on the beach. If you’re lucky enough to live near the water, take advantage of your proximity to the beach – just be sure to get there really early. It won’t be quite as hot or busy just yet, so when the beach fills with families and the sun fully rises, that’s your cue to rush for shade and air conditioning.

Take an umbrella to the park. Hear me out – sitting in the sun without a shady respite will roast you, fill you up, and make you fit to be served at Thanksgiving dinner. It may seem silly to spend a day outside under an umbrella when it’s not raining, but at least your skin will be partially protected from the oppressive rays of the sun. Imagine yourself in Victorian times, strolling through a stately garden under a delicate parasol.

Treat yourself. Even though we feel like our institutions are collapsing around us, the ice cream is still perfect. If you’re craving sweets, a limited dose of sunshine and socializing, meet your friends for a cone outside an ice cream shop with plenty of seating outside to tick off all three.

Slip and slide. This one requires a grassy area with access to a hose. But if you or a friend have those things, get a slide or other easy-to-install water features to splash around in – do it for those of us who can’t. Imagine the sweet relief of falling face down on a wet, rubbery sheet and sliding through a sprinkler. It’s not just for kids!

Seek the shade in nature. It’s definitely too hot to hike in the desert right now. But if you live near a botanical garden or arboretum, take advantage of the natural shade and breeze. You might even come across birds or other forest creatures, and watch their tricks to stay cool.

On the inside

Invest in a kiddie pool. You don’t even need a garden for this one. These plastic tubs are easy enough to manually inflate and small enough to fit in your living room, if you want to splash around while eating “90 Day Fiancé.” It can also be used as a bathtub for your pet, a beer cooler, a basin to hand wash your delicate clothes – it’s an investment in your future.

Organize a personal film festival. You can’t go to Cannes. But you can feel like a real movie buff from the couch with a carefully curated movie marathon. During this writer’s fight with Covid, I spotted several kids’ movies I watched when I was too sick to go to school. I’m talking about “The Incredibles”, “Lilo and Stitch”, “Shrek 2” — the biggest hits here, folks! My colleague Leah Asmelash recently did the same with a series of Denzel Washington films. Why not choose a genre, director or star you like and just bulldoze through their filmography?

Sing along with karaoke. Chances are if there’s a song you want to sing, there’s a backing track for it on YouTube (bless whoever makes them for obscure ditties from forgotten musicals; this author is grateful). While an inexpensive wireless microphone can help fuel your pop star fantasy, a hairbrush or kitchen spatula are also acceptable items for singing along.

Really get into the puzzles. I stayed inside all day to do a puzzle even though the weather was nice and Covid-19 was just a twinkle in our collective eye. But now I have a reason to do it without feeling like I’m running away from humanity! Maybe by the time the sticky heat of summer turns into the less sticky and hopefully brisk winds of fall, you’ll have made your way to 2,000 piece puzzles. (And if the thought is daunting, CNN has an illustrated guide on how to start and complete a puzzle.)

Learn a TikTok dance. This one is easier said than done, of course, but why not? What else do we have to do? I bet if you watch Lizzo and her bandmates do the “About Damn Time” dance on repeat, you too will make a move with the bet of them. But if that’s not your speed, you can freestyle or create your own choreography.

Read a ridiculously long book. “Infinite joke.” “Anna Karenina.” “This.” Everything Jonathan Franzen. The chunky volumes sitting on your shelf have taunted you for years – now is the time to open them. And maybe even finish them!

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