How Infrared Saunas Can Reduce Stress and Provide Relaxation
Exploring a sauna protocol for how you can become more relaxed and healthier with the use of an infrared sauna
In a year like 2021, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed, uncertain and stressed on a day-to-day basis. The undercurrent of a pandemic has pulled and swayed us off our natural centre-point, and the economic realities of the new normal have brought us to an unprecedented point in human history where it is undoubtedly easier than ever to be plagued with stress. This brings us to the feature-point of today’s article: how we can unplug, momentarily, from the stresses of our daily lives, escape the pressure from work or our private lives, and take a moment out of our day purely for our own well-being.
Mindfulness, relaxation and meditation are at the basis of a stable mind frame that not only keeps us healthy, it maintains our peak-performance for longer periods of time. As you’ll soon discover, there are a raft of health benefits from tackling stress in our lives and embracing a true form of relaxation; one that, we believe, is best facilitated in an infrared sauna. So let's jump in and take a look at how infrared sauna use can help our bodies deal with the physical strains of stress, and how we can improve our productivity at work and in our personal lives with a sauna protocol.
What is a Sauna Protocol to Reduce Stress and Facilitate Relaxation?
Ensure that you’re extremely well-hydrated
If possible, prepare some relaxing music to play in the background; here’s what we recommend
Take a luke-warm shower to wipe off any dirt or grit and warm-up core temperature
Take note of the time and step inside the sauna
Close your eyes, and begin to take deep breaths
Breathe in, either through your nose or mouth for six seconds, hold, and release
Repeat the process for the next ten minutes or more
Stay inside the sauna for as long as you feel comfortable; anywhere between 25-45 minutes (if you cannot bear the heat, try to finish your session with the door open)
Take your time stepping outside of the sauna; shower if you would like, if not, dry off and continue listening to relaxing music
Are Infrared Saunas Relaxing?
While this is no doubt the answer to whether or not saunas are relaxing is subjective, it seems reasonable to assume that for most users of an infrared sauna, the experience is a relaxing one that the typical user will feel better after their use than beforehand. The experience is particularly relaxing in the first half of the session, as your body temperature slowly rises and kick-starts your body into triggering a number of physiological benefits. Time spent inside a sauna can, however, prove more testing once the temperature brings us close to our thermal threshold, where our personal preferences and pain tolerances change from person-to-person.
Here Dr. Joy Hussain speaks on findings on thermal regulation in women using Clearlight Infrared® Saunas from a conducted sauna study.
So long as the user is healthy and well-hydrated, the experience of sitting inside an infrared saunas has been overwhelmingly positive, according to feedback from our users.
What are the Health Risks of Being Stressed?
When we are exposed to one or many sources of personal stress, our bodies release a hormone known as cortisol into the blood, which acts as a wake-up call for your body to respond to a potentially threatening situation. Elevated cortisol increases your pulse and blood pressure, and provides your brain with adrenaline and glucose to deal with these situations. It should be pointed out that short-term bursts of stress aren’t necessarily unhealthy, they’re actually an evolutionary reaction to keep ourselves safe from threats.
Below, founders of Be Spunki, Sam and Shaun, speak on the effects cortisol has on our body over pro-longed periods of time.
Consistent, long-term and pervasive stress, however, is what takes a toll on our bodies, and is exactly what we’re trying to target with an infrared sauna that helps facilitate relaxation and alleviating stress.
The National Institute of Mental Health says that constant, long-term sources of stress mean that our “body never receives a clear signal to return to normal functioning,” which is what causes health problems. These include both mental illnesses like anxiety, depression and sleep disorders, as well as physical health problems like digestive problems, headaches, weight gain, high blood pressure, risk of heart disease and stroke.
How Does Relaxing Make You Healthier?
The Mayo Clinic recommends that learning to identify the root causes of stress, as well as creating self-care strategies to deal with the signs of stress are one of the best ways to combat stress and live a healthier life. We believe that taking time out of your busy life to immerse yourself inside an infrared sauna is helpful in combating stress for two primary reasons.
The first of which is based on the physiological and health benefits of infrared saunas, which have backed up with peer-reviewed medical evidence. One of the major recommendations in minimising stress is to exercise, and infrared saunas trigger our bodies into a state very similar to a workout. If a sauna session is added on to the end of a workout, these benefits stand to be magnified.
Then, on a more personal level, we believe that users experience something that borders on meditation when they’re using a sauna, even for new users. More experienced sauna users will be familiar with how to practice deep-breathing exercises and even meditation inside a sauna, meaning they’re even better positioned to soak up the health benefits of relaxing. Deep breathing helps settle our body and reduce cortisol levels, while increasing the amount of oxygenated blood our body - and brain - has access to, to process our thoughts and dive into a deeper meditative state.
Certified Wim Hoff instructor Johannes Egberts speaks on how breathwork has been shown to lower inflammation and subdue cortisol.
What are the Productivity Benefits of Being Relaxed?
If you’ve been feeling overwhelmed with work, it’s likely that one or more sources of stress are taking their toll on your productivity. Some sources say that stress can reduce our overall productivity at work by a staggering 77%, which also translates to higher rates of staff absenteeism and a drop in the organisation’s morale and culture. When you take steps to reduce sources of stress in your life and treat them with a meditative practice like infrared sauna bathing, it doesn’t seem like a stretch to say that your overall productivity will increase, and your attitude toward your work duties will become more positive. A peaceful, relaxed mind frame is best facilitated by a healthy diet, regular exercise and at least eight-hours of sleep each night, but can be fortified by something like infrared sauna bathing to give your body an added push in the right direction.
How Long Should You Sit Inside a Sauna to Properly Relax?
We encourage users that are new to the whole experience to sit inside an infrared sauna for around 20-25 minutes, while monitoring their body for any adverse symptoms. Sitting inside a sauna doesn’t necessarily guarantee relaxation, so if you’re feeling as though your body is giving you warning signs to step out before you hit the 25-minute mark, listen to these signs and step outside.
For more experienced users, you can sit inside the sauna for anywhere between 30-45 minutes to allow your body and mind to properly relax.
What are Other Ways to Reduce Stress in Our Lives?
One of the most effective methods to reduce stress, according to the Mayo Clinic is to lead a lifestyle that encourages eating a healthy diet, and ensuring that you’re getting enough exercise and sleep in your daily life. They also recommend that you:
Practice relaxation techniques like deep breathing, meditation or yoga (we believe this extends to sauna use)
Keep a journal to detail your thoughts and what you feel grateful for in your life
Stencil time in your schedule for a hobby like reading
Develop closer ties with your friends and family
Volunteer in your community
Establish a diary or timetable for your work and personal life; remove any items that aren’t essential
Tick these items off your list as you achieve them, and reward yourself.
Seek help and counseling if your sources of stress are constant
If you're interested in having the benefits of an infrared sauna in your home, click here to view our range of Clearlight Infrared® Saunas that have been used in multiple sauna studies to provide optimal wellness benefits as stated above.