Whether it’s because of work, kids, or just the ups and downs of life, stressors seem to pop up constantly. Bring the unexpected set in of COVID-19 into the mix, and you’ll probably find that most people have felt intense stress over the past year. According to a survey done in January 2021 by the APA, 80 percent of Americans reported feeling emotions associated with prolonged stress.
When it comes to physical and mental health, stress can really wreak havoc on the body. If you’re like us and value wellness, it’s important to manage that stress in a healthy way. That’s where sauna use comes in.
Here are five ways the benefits of sauna can help reduce stress and leave you feeling refreshed.
Enjoy some quiet time
Peace and quiet is something that most of us definitely don’t get enough of. Sauna sessions allow time and space to check-out for a while with no interruptions or distractions. And relaxing in the heat and quiet of a sauna opens you up to mindfulness, where you can focus on the present moment, work on the mind-body connection, and turn inward. Giving yourself time to practice mindfulness can help reduce any pent up stress or anxiety you may be feeling.
A full body calm
Settle into pure bliss.
Heat from the sauna does wonders for your body including muscle relaxation and improved circulation. When you feel stressed, it can show up in different parts of the body. Maybe when you feel stressed you notice tightness in your back, your neck, or your shoulders? Heat allows those muscles to warm up and relax which helps alleviate tension points.
If your body feels like it needs a little more TLC, try pairing a massage with sauna to work double time on stress-related tension points.
When you feel happy, that’s all thanks to the hormone serotonin. It’s responsible for regulating moods, happiness, and anxiety. If you have low levels of serotonin in the brain, it can cause depression, anxiety, and lack of sleep. However, with regular visits to the sauna, that can be prevented. The increase of heat in the sauna boosts serotonin levels in the body which improves your mood.
Christopher Lowry, an Associate Professor in the Department of Integrative Physiology and Center for Neuroscience at the University of Colorado at Boulder, found serotonin-releasing neurons in the brain would fire in response to increases in body temperature. These neurons initiate the body’s cooling process but also fire into the section of the brain that regulates mood. Sauna’s benefits and positive impact on mood is a natural process that occurs simply as a result of your body’s work to maintain homeostasis.
Still need convincing? A study published in The Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice involved 45 men and women who only had one sauna session. Researchers asked participants to complete two questionnaires, following their sauna visit, to answer questions about their anxiety and mood states. In the questionnaire, six mood-related factors—confusion, fatigue, vigor, anxiety, dejection, depression, hostility and anger—were measured, and researchers found that these factors improved significantly after sauna bathing.
Lowers blood pressure
When you get stressed or anxious, it can feel like your heart is beating out of your chest.
One of the common culprits of stress is high blood pressure, but sauna comes to the rescue here as it is proven to help reduce the risk of high blood pressure. How? Higher heat in saunas increases the body’s blood circulation, helping the heart and reducing blood pressure.
Simply put, blood pressure can be determined by output and resistance. Time in the sauna significantly improves both of these factors. Sauna has similar effects on the body as cardio does in that it helps with resting heart rate — output. During sauna sessions, heat causes fluids in the body to expand, stretching out the vascular system and keeping it soft and compliant — resistance.
As with many things, consistency with sauna is key. In 2017, a study done in Finland found that frequent sauna bathing reduced the risk of elevated blood pressure among male participants. In fact, the risk of having high blood pressure was nearly 50 percent lower among men who spent time in the sauna 4-7 times a week compared to men who only used the sauna once a week.
Having well-rested sleep is one of the most important things you can do to help relieve stress. A good night’s sleep allows our brains to recharge and our bodies to rest. Time in the sauna gives your body the environment it needs to fully relax thanks to added heat and quiet space. You’ll find that after a sauna session, sleep comes easier and helps you wake up feeling less stressed.
To get an even better night’s sleep, try using the sauna in the evening. Your body cools itself off when you sleep, so by firing it up in the sauna before bed, you get your body’s natural cooling process started which will lead to relaxed, more restful sleep.
Benefits of sauna help you feel healthier and less stressed
As unwanted stressors arise, it’s so important to set aside time and space to take care of your physical and mental health no matter how hectic life can be. Sauna sessions allow you to press pause, settle into stillness, and rejuvenate the mind-body connection that is so vital to our livelihood.
Choose from a variety of sauna experiences here at Sauna House in Asheville, NC. We look forward to seeing you soon!