Achieving Balance: Infrared Saunas' Role in Stress Reduction

Achieving Balance: Infrared Saunas' Role in Stress Reduction

In our fast-paced lifestyles with busy jobs and an abundance of responsibilities, finding time to relax can be a challenge. Between trying to switch off mentally by disengaging from screens to looking after our bodies, achieving a mind-body balance can seem out of reach. One of the most enjoyable ways to get closer to bringing your mind and body back into alignment is by taking time in an infrared sauna. 

From the intensely relaxing heat to having a block of time set aside to just sit with your thoughts, infrared saunas are a wonderful way to properly indulge in some ‘me’ time. Discover how they work, what the benefits are and how you can best utilise them in your mindfulness practice. 

Understanding Infrared Technology

Infrared saunas operate very differently from conventional steam saunas. Typical saunas use steam from water over hot coals, heating the room around you. While this does create heat, it’s less targeted, heating up your entire body and doesn’t penetrate as deeply. Conventional saunas also need to operate at a much higher temperature in order to induce sweating, meaning they can be uncomfortable for some people. 

Infrared saunas can create more targeted heat that penetrates directly into the body without needing to heat the air itself. Infrared also penetrates deeper, up to 2cm, into subcutaneous tissue. This is because of the unique panels that transfer electricity into light on a specific spectrum, classified as far-infrared. While this light isn’t on the visible spectrum for human eyes, it can be experienced as heat. 

There are two types of panels that can emit infrared light: ceramic and carbon fibre. Ceramic is typically more affordable to make. However, ceramic panels can also create hot spots in your sauna as they degrade, and they don’t typically last as long. For at-home options that get used frequently, you want something that will last. The best infrared saunas have carbon fibre panels. Carbon fibre panels are safe and effective and have a lower surface temperature than ceramic panels, all while still delivering exceptionally potent heat through the air. They’ll also last longer, giving you a beautifully relaxing and beneficial sauna experience for years to come. 

Deep Tissue Relaxation and Detoxification

Infrared saunas are designed to promote muscle relaxation and detoxification by increasing the rate of blood flow through your body. With the intense heat, you’ll notice your heart rate may increase slightly as it works to cool you down. Increased blood flow not only helps with detoxification by moving toxins from muscles through to your body's eliminatory systems but also supports muscle relaxation and recovery. This makes infrared saunas perfect for anyone who works out regularly or experiences muscle soreness from lifestyle factors like work. 

A session in an infrared sauna will also induce sweating, which can help eliminate toxins and increase circulation throughout the body. Your skin is your body’s largest organ, and sweating is how your body cools itself and one of the many ways it eliminates waste. While conventional saunas typically need to be very hot in order to make you sweat, you’ll start to perspire in an infrared sauna set as low as 40℃. 

By engaging both your circulatory and integumentary systems, you’ll experience full-body relaxation and detoxification. Through far-infrared-generated heat, you’ll leave your sauna session feeling relaxed and refreshed. 

The Sauna Experience: A Meditation Opportunity

Aside from the physical benefits of relaxation and detoxification, you can elevate your infrared sauna experience by engaging your mind as well. We’re constantly locked into hours of screen time with huge amounts of disruptive background noise. Taking 30 to 45 minutes to fully disconnect is a perfect opportunity to allow your mind time to recharge and wander freely without external interference. 

You could choose to sit in silence and wear noise-blocking earplugs for a quieter and more still experience. You could also set a guided meditation to listen to while you’re in your home infrared sauna or listen to music at a certain frequency, like binaural beats, for deeper relaxation. 

Giving your mind the time to wander can help you process the day, alleviate stress, and take a break from the constant external stimulation that the modern world generates.

Hormonal Response: Lowering Cortisol and Enhancing Endorphins

Aside from taking some time to yourself, sitting in your sauna on a regular basis can help reduce the levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, in your body. Cortisol is a necessary hormone that helps us respond to stress, but too much of it can have adverse effects. You might experience poor sleep and a heightened heart rate even when you’re at rest. It can also impact your blood sugar levels, increase weight gain, and cause digestive issues. 

Exercise is often useful for lowering cortisol levels, as when you work out, your heart rate increases, blood flow improves, and your body releases endorphins. You can get the same effects with an infrared sauna session. Through the deep heat, you’ll get both the sweat-inducing effects and increased blood flow that going for a run would give you. You’ll also get a similar rush of the good, happy hormones while simultaneously reducing the ones that cause your body to feel stressed. 

Complementary Therapies to Pair with Infrared Saunas

Infrared saunas are just one of many wonderful ways to facilitate a better mind-body balance. You can use other therapies that will deliver different but complementary benefits to promote overall wellness. 

One option is to opt for extreme cold therapy over the relaxing heat of infrared saunas. Ice baths can help stimulate the vagus nerve and encourage the parasympathetic nervous system to reset your body temperature, cultivating improved alertness and increased energy levels. 

If you’re looking for a form of exercise that engages your whole body and your mind, Pilates is a wonderful option. It can be adjusted to all levels of fitness and combines precise, measured movement with deep breathing to deliver a fully engaging workout. 

Discover the benefits of a home infrared sauna with the broad range available at Kiva Wellness. Whether you want a one-person sauna or a larger option for you and a partner, we ship our infrared saunas Australia-wide, direct to your home. For further information, explore our FAQs or contact us for a personal recommendation.