Our mental health dictates how we think, what we think, how we behave, and the ways we interact with the world and the people around us. Poor mental health can skew our perspective, impact how we perform, hold us back from living our best lives, and also have grave implications on our life and health.
Far beyond a ‘treat yourself’ or simple ‘self-care’ mentality, infrared light therapy offers some hope for improving our holistic mental wellbeing. Here are 5 ways that infrared saunas can help bring light to the darkness of depression, anxiety, and even the daily drain of modern-day stresses on our emotions and mind.
The state of mental (ill)health around the world
If you’ve experienced symptoms of depression or anxiety in the past year, you are far from alone. Indeed due the ongoing impacts of the pandemic, amidst other global challenges from racial tension to climate change - the World Economic Forum has declared looking after one’s mental health as a ‘public health necessity’.
Mental health support and advocacy organisations such as BeyondBlue and Kids Helpline have reported significant increases in help-seeking behaviour and some statistics suggest that a staggering 41 percent of adults reported symptoms of anxiety and/or depression since early 2020. Together with the Mental Health Foundation Australia, whose theme this year is post-pandemic recovery challenges and resilience, this important issue is now receiving the awareness and attention it deserves.
“I love to use my Sunlighten sauna to have ‘thinker moments’, where I just switch off and let my mind wander and daydream. These moments give the brain a rest and allow it to reboot and heal, which increases clarity of thought and organises the networks of the brain, rather than just letting toxic mindsets build up in the brain and cause all sorts of mental health issues.”- Dr Caroline Leaf
The benefits of investing in your mental health
We know that dedicated ‘sacred spaces’ have the ability to uplift us emotionally and give us the space to breathe, reconnect and be mindful. Making space to nurture our minds and invest in our mental health has a profound ripple effect: when our brain is balanced, we have the energy and inspiration to take care of ourselves, and in turn, we have energy to be there for others and contribute positively to the world. And there’s nothing quite like the sanctuary of a Sunlighten sauna to give you the ‘sacred space’ you need to nurture yourself.
Here are five ways that regular Infrared Sauna Therapy can improve mental health:
1. Heat relieves depressive symptoms. According to Dr. Charles Raison who conducted a 2016 study on hyperthermia to treat depression, “heat makes the brain happy.” In the University of Wisconsin Madison trial published in the Journal of American Medicine, Dr Raison used infrared light to raise core body temperature to 101.3 degrees (38.5 celsius) and found that it improved symptoms of major depression for as long as six weeks after a single treatment.
“We think that using heat to stimulate the skin activates serotonin-producing cells in the midbrain, which then produces a change in how the brain functions.” Sunlighten’s infrared technology is clinically proven to safely raise core temperature three degrees farenheit, offering healing at the cellular level and positively affecting mental wellbeing.
2. Benefits of quiet and mindfulness in an insulated space. Meditation offers innumerable health benefits including reducing stress, decreasing anxiety, and promoting emotional health. Infrared saunas are sanctuaries of peace and quiet, and the perfect time and place to meditate. Studies have shown that regular meditation practice reduces the inflammation response stress causes by decreasing levels of stress-induced cytokine chemicals that can affect mood and lead to depression.
Relaxing and clearing the mind helps us to be present and lower our normal fast-paced rhythm. Deep breathing and meditation also elicit a powerful calming effect and help trigger the vagus nerve, which is connected to our gut and digestion, as well as our parasympathetic nervous system. Stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system provides a healthy counterbalance to the work of the sympathetic nervous system, which triggers our fight or flight response common in our constant daily rush.
3. Sound vibration helps calm and balance the body. Sound is carried to us in different wavelengths and frequencies that affect us in both beautiful and damaging ways. As such, sound healing therapy dates back to ancient Greece times when music was used to help cure mental disorders. It’s based on the tenet that our world is full of vibratory properties, and if those vibrations are out of step, then so are our bodies.
Sunlighten offers an additional sauna accessory in all cabin saunas called: Acoustic Resonance Therapy (A.R.T.) by So Sound®. Sound-amplifying discs are mounted under the seat to utilise sound as a therapy modality that can induce a calming effect on the body and mind. This potent combination of calming music and healing vibration moves through the body and mind, so your body absorbs the vibration you also hear. So Sound® research has shown that, after just 10 minutes with A.R.T., brain waves were calmer and more balanced.
4. Balancing effects of colour. The concept that colour and light can bring about healing has been around for centuries. Chromotherapy is an approach to wellness based on scientific evidence that the specific vibrations and frequency of light can impact the body in positive and healing ways. The evidence illustrates that specific vibratory qualities of colours can impact specific organs and, therefore, specific diseases processes. With built-in chromotherapy lighting, Sunlighten infrared saunas provide a variety of carefully selected colours to alleviate anxiety and calm the nervous system, especially blue and violet.
5. Going beyond the physical body for an expanded wellness practice. Eating healthily, exercising regularly, and getting a good night’s sleep create a strong foundation for optimal health and wellness. Adding infrared sauna sessions to your existing wellness routines can help you move toward another level of energy and health.
Even for those of us with already established wellness practices, regular infrared saunas can be seamlessly integrated and the health of our body and mind more closely intertwined. You’ll find yourself wanting to schedule time in the serene sanctuary of your infrared sauna to enjoy the effective light and heat benefits for yourself.
The antidote to modern day stress
Mental health expert Dr Caroline Leaf swears by her Sunlighten infrared sauna, sharing that it is a crucial part of her daily mental healthcare. In a recent podcast with Sunlighten Founder Connie Zack, Dr Caroline Leaf discussed why infrared heat is so good for us and why it makes us feel so good, and it was so exciting we had to share. She shared:
“Not only do saunas help us relax, which is certainly important for our mental health, but research on infrared saunas has also shown that it can have positive effects on our mood, helping with depression, anxiety and other types of mental distress.
Just one infrared sauna treatment can potentially reduce depressive symptoms by up to 50%, with the benefits continuing for up to 6 weeks, while regular sessions in an infrared sauna can reduce cortisol levels, helping with toxic stress and burnout, and increase our clarity of mind and focus.
Be sure to watch the whole interview on YouTube or listen to the podcast on Spotify while you enjoy a Sunlighten infrared sauna!
Watch the full episode linked HERE
To learn more about the benefits of Sunlighten’s infrared sauna for your health and wellbeing, visit our website.
If you, or someone you know, is experiencing symptoms of depression or anxiety, there is help available.
Crisis support services can be reached 24 hours a day:
Lifeline 13 11 14;
Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467;
Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800;
MensLine Australia 1300 78 99 78;
Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636