Right now, most people are grappling with how to sustain both their physical and mental health, when we can no longer go about our regular routines outside of our homes.
Whether you are social-distancing because of a medical crisis or are stuck inside because of a weather issue or a simple cold, taking care of your health is important.
Even if you cannot go to the gym or spa, you can still continue with self-care.
In times of social distancing, it’s important to keep you and your family’s physical and mental health a priority, and in that case, a home sauna might just be the right thing.
If you’re curious about how a Sauna can be a wonderful addition to you and your family’s self-care and wellness routine, I’ll give you 11 reasons why you should consider getting yourself a home sauna.
There has been a significant amount of traditional wisdom surrounding heat-based therapies for generations. The Mayans, ancient Greeks, and Romans, as well as many Aboriginal elders, put these therapies to work when maintaining their health.
It’s true that the currently best-known sauna type was invented and perfected in Finland. Still, heat therapy for health has been used in all different forms across the globe for thousands of years. While a home sauna may not heal already active illness, it can help your body by strengthening your immune system. It can also ease the symptoms of certain illnesses.
If you have a sauna in your home, you are a step ahead of those who may lose access to their spa or gym through illness or weather. Just in case you don’t own one yet, here are 11 ways a sauna can help you keep your physical and mental health in check, even during times of crisis.
When your body’s immune system comes under attack, you want all the support possible to help your body fight anything that might make you sick. Stress causes your body to respond in the opposite way. Stress harms the immune system rather than building it up. Using a home sauna is important in reducing stress.
While stress reduction feels good, it also means sauna users are helping their overall health. Many types of illnesses can be stress-related, such as heart disease, diabetes, and asthma. Stress also affects our mental well-being and can contribute to depression and anxiety.
Relieving stress through sauna use means you are working at sustaining good physical and mental health. Taking time to regularly use a sauna is a good way to do this. Warmth, quiet, and the ability to close the door on a world that is causing you the stress is important.
The heat relaxes your muscles, improves your circulation, and releases endorphins (the feel-good chemical) as well. Studies show that there is a substantial reduction in all-cause mortality (dying of any other reason than accidents) by those regularly using saunas at or above 174 degrees F. The same study also showed that the risk of cardiovascular disease and heart attacks was strongly reduced by regular sauna use.
As your general state of health improves, it is easier to keep stress levels at check. Then your body can use its energy reserves to ward off possible illnesses.
When you are feeling ill, you do not want to head to the gym or spa. You need to avoid passing your germs onto others. Using a home sauna can help replace some of those things you miss while staying away from the outside world. Because the body releases endorphins, you get a mild tranquilizing effect from them. This can reduce the pain and muscle soreness you sometimes get with an illness or even after a home workout.
Along with endorphins, the increased blood flow from the heat of your sauna is said to also speed up the body's natural healing processes. This allows you to shorten the time of your aches and pains.
Please note that if you’re having a fever, the medical professionals don’t recommend increasing your body heat by having a sauna. A sauna is best used to prevent illness, and to recover from it.
If you feel like having a sauna when mildly ill, do it at lower temperatures and shorter times, and always consult your doctor!
While we all sweat during the day, it’s not a refreshing type of sweat. Its the opposite of what you get in a sauna. You’re also missing out on chances of healthy sweating when you are not able to visit your gym or spa. Deep sweating as you do in a sauna can feel refreshing if you feel you might be coming down with something.
Once you step in your sauna and bask in its heat, your blood vessels dilate and your body temperature begins to go up. As this happens, your body’s nervous system transmits signs to the sweat glands which then go into action. They produce sweat to cool you down.
While this may or may not remove toxins from the body (scientific studies are ongoing), anyone who has ever sweated it out knows it leaves you feeling refreshed and deeply cleansed.
When you are only able to use your home sauna rather than one at the spa or gym, you will find that you’ll use it more consistently. While this reduces stress and may aid in recovery, it also can help lessen the chance of having memory issues such as Alzheimer’s. The same study mentioned earlier found that regularly using a sauna reduces your risk for certain types of dementia.
This was not a small study. It looked at 2300 people over 20 years and examined their use of a sauna on a regular basis, meaning four to seven times each week at 176 F for 19 minutes each time, on average. It is another benefit of continuing sauna use at home on a regular basis when you can’t make it to one outside your home.
Sitting in a sauna allows you to relax and rejuvenate which can lower the instance of depression and mental well-being challenges often exacerbated by stress and generally feeling unwell.
Taking time for self-care is not just about your physical well-being but your mental health as well. During trying times like these, the mental health improvements might be even more important than the long-term physical benefits.
Go easy on yourself, and give your mind some time off from worries of the world. There is no better place for grounding your mind than a sauna.
Using your sauna at home on a regular basis helps you get a better night's sleep as you will likely be less restless and sleep more deeply. This happens because the sauna helps release endorphins in your body but it is also due to falling body temperatures at bedtime.
If you have a sauna an hour or two before bed, you will find a combination of the endorphins and falling body temperature makes you sleep easier and deeper when compared to bedtime without a sauna.
Just be careful if reading “quick tips” from other places on the web. I’ve seen a lot of advice saying you should have a sauna right before going to bed. That will just leave you feeling too hot to sleep. You want to give your body at least 30 minutes, preferably longer, to cool down. You’ll get to know the right amount of time for your circumstances with some experience.
Saunas have also been said to reduce the number of times you are going to battle a cold or flu bug throughout the year. Some studies indicate that if you are a regular sauna user, the heat helps create white blood cells more quickly. These are the cornerstone of our immune system. When you have more of these, your body works better at getting rid of illnesses and viruses.
Saunas can also help ease some of the symptoms if you do get an illness. The steam can help reduce nasal and sinus congestion. You can even add some eucalyptus to the water you put on the rocks for a little more self-care. Steam helps loosen up a tight chest and relaxes your muscles to help make your symptoms feel a little less daunting.
There is an unending debate in Finland (birthplace of the sauna) whether you should or shouldn’t use a sauna while sick. The traditional saying goes “if sauna, alcohol, and tar (coal tar) don’t help, the disease is lethal”. That may have been true in the time before doctors and hospitals. We now have better medicines than alcohol and tar, but they were onto something real with that part about sauna.
There is an important distinction to make here. I absolutely believe that when used preventatively, a sauna can be a great tool. With active illness, especially with fever, the benefits are less clear.
Finnish medical experts don’t recommend going to a sauna when having a fever. I’ve tested it at times when having mild flu, but I’m not sure if I can say it’s ever truly cured me. The body does its own thing. When having a high fever or being seriously very ill, I wouldn’t even feel like going to the sauna. Sometimes we’re better off just staying in bed.
If you want to do your own experiments, only do so with milder temperatures and short times in the sauna. Use common sense, and consult your doctor.
While much of your home sauna use is focused on keeping your mental and physical well-being up to par, you can also use it to make sure your skin stays healthy as well.
When you have a deep sweat in a sauna, your skin is cleansed, dead skin cells are removed, and new ones take their place.
You sweat out bacteria trapped in the epidermal layer and clean your pores thoroughly as well. This improves your capillary circulation and makes your skin healthier. If you’re in a dry climate, the steam helps soften and rejuvenate your skin.
Saunas can help with burning calories. Sweating and increased heart rate increase your metabolic rate, so it can be helpful as a part of a larger weight loss plan. Your body uses more calories as your cardiovascular system ramps up. The body's need for more oxygen means it needs to convert calories into energy.
We need a reality check here: this calorie burning effect is real, but it isn’t so strong that you could eat a ton of extra food, and burn it all off in one sauna session. What it does mean is that a home sauna can be a great part of an overall health plan, when you use it to support your diet and exercise goals.
If you’re looking to lose a few extra pounds, a sauna definitely makes it easier for you.
While using a sauna is a great way to get in your me-time, a home sauna is also great for spending some relaxing time with close friends and family. Obviously, you shouldn’t do this if you aren’t feeling well.
If you don't need to be worried about spreading germs, then spending time with others is good for both your mental and physical health. It is a good place to have quiet conversations and simply enjoy one another’s company. A boost in positive socialization boosts your mood as well.
Whether you are trying to get rid of a virus, fend off one, boost your mood, or simply feel better in general, regularly spending time in your home sauna will help. The tranquillity and heat of the sauna promotes psychological changes that help keep your mood serene and your health on the upswing.
Self and family care should always be a priority in our busy lives. We often forget to take time to slow down and catch our breath.
While visiting the local gym and spa can include sauna time, there are times in our lives when that becomes impossible. Inclement weather, illness, or even just feeling tired after a busy day can keep us at home.
No matter what your reason for not using a public sauna, having a sauna at home comes in handy.
Making use of your home sauna daily helps you feel better, gives you an immunity boost, and can shorten any illness you may pick up.
We're living through a time when it is important not only to protect yourself and your family's health but to also make sure we are mindful of others. Using a sauna in the safety of your home helps you to reduce stress and give yourself an overall feeling of health and wellbeing.
Every attempt you make to improve your health is a step forward in healing and maintaining well being, both physically and mentally.
Please note: nothing written in this post is medical advice. Please don’t read it as such. While a sauna can help you with your overall health, it is not a direct cure for any disease. If you have a fever, the medical experts recommend that you don’t heat up your body any further by having a sauna. Sauna should only be used to prevent illness, and to increase your general health. Always consult your doctor if in doubt.
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Saunas have been used by Finns for well over a thousand years and science has proven that they do wonders for your health in many aspects. In this post, I will dive into 8 scientifically proven physical and mental health benefits of a sauna.