Couple sweating in sauna
December 09, 2021

Healthy Holidays: 12 Ideas for Living Well This Season

Holistic Wellness

Help yourself stay healthy this holiday season by harnessing the power of intention -- and sweat! Start with picturing yourself feeling good after the holidays, then resolve to do one thing to help you sweat for health each day and make a plan. We’ve made it easier for you with a simple “12 Days of Wellness” list. Using sweat as a focus for balancing out holiday temptations, you can do one thing each day for your overall well-being, and ultimately help yourself feel post-holiday gratitude rather than regret.

Day 1: Be a Sweat-er Today
Woman sweating in Sunlighten sauna

Why: Sweat is good for us. It does many great things for our bodies: it can boost energy, help maintain healthy weight, aid in increasing the immune system, improve mood, revitalize skin, and promote good sleep. 

We all sweat differently because each body has its own patterns of pores and glands that release the wellspring beneath your skin. Sweat is like fingerprints—it’s unique to you! Learn about the many factors that affect the way you sweat here.

What: Schedule yourself a 30- to 40-minute sauna session and focus on maximizing your sweat. Drink plenty of water. Try applying our sweat amplifying cream to increase sweat. Maybe stack your session with a workout before or after. Experiment with a new setting, session length, or time of day. If you’re still acclimating to sauna use, always start slow; we recommend 15-minute sessions for beginners.

Day 2: Remember to Relax
Woman relaxing in Sunlighten sauna.

Why: Stress elevates the cortisol in our bodies and the holidays are known to be some of the most stressful times of the year. It’s important that you give your body time to recover from stress and decrease the chemistry designed to defend your body. Infrared saunas are one of the best ways to experience deep relaxation.

What: Make today your commitment to relaxing. Schedule your sauna session for 30 to 40 minutes and try some breathing exercises (Ari Whitten has some great tips here) to start. Turn on your Acoustic Resonance Therapy if you have it (if not check out the benefits here) and let the sound therapy help your body absorb the healing sound waves. The chromotherapy lights built into Sunlighten saunas also help – light green and sky blue have relaxing effects.

Day 3: Optimize Your Sleep Hygiene
Woman sleeping

Why: Getting a good night’s sleep is foundational to health and wellness. The Sleep Foundation defines sleep hygiene as having both a bedroom environment and daily routine that promotes consistent, uninterrupted sleep. You can tailor your sleep hygiene practices to suit your needs and create positive habits to promote sound sleep so you wake up well-rested. Our partner, Sleep As A Skill, has a simple 9-question Sleep Assessment that’s a helpful tool for those with sleep problems and those who just want to optimize their sleep.

One way to optimize sleep may be saunaing before bed. The warmth of infrared saunas before bed offers similar benefits to a hot bath. As the body cools during sleep, the thermoregulatory system signals release of melatonin, the hormone that helps you sleep. Getting hot in a sauna or bath followed by immediate cooling off can kickstart the body’s thermoregulatory response and help produce melatonin faster.
What: Schedule your sauna session before bed and take a cool shower immediately after to help improve your night’s sleep. A higher intensity sauna session combined with a quick cooling shower is a form of “contrast therapy” sleep specialists often recommend as a “sleep hack.”

Day 4: Invest in Your Immunity
Man in Sunlighten sauna

Why: Increasing your core body temperature by exposing your body to heat through the process of hormesis helps activate your immune system.  Increased body temp may also help fight infections as it stimulates heat shock proteins that deter viruses from reproducing and reduce inflammatory cytokine proteins. Holiday stress, overindulgence, sugar, lack of sleep, and poor diets can lower immunity. Help your body stay strong by harnessing the natural health benefits of an infrared sauna session.

What: Schedule your sauna session today to support your immune system with a 30 to 40-minute session. Using an infrared sauna regularly helps your body stay healthy.

Day 5: Help Your Heart 

Why: Your heart circulates blood throughout your body, delivering vital nutrients and oxygen to cells in every organ of the body. It keeps you alive. One of the foundational health benefits of infrared saunas is increasing circulation like a passive cardio workout. It also helps temporarily lower blood pressure. Cardiologist Dr. Joel Kahn says a sauna a day can help keep the doctor, and the heart attack, away. This is because of the research showing that saunas improve the function of endothelial cells that line every artery in the body resulting in better health and functionality.

What: Book yourself a healthy heart session in your sauna today and know that you are taking care of your whole body as you feel your heartbeat increase temporarily during your session. A suggested protocol to try would be to start with a higher temperature to increase heart rate then lower it halfway through your session to sustain.

Day 6: Mend Your Muscles
Man exercising. Woman reading in Sunlighten sauna.

Why: Whenever you exert strain on your muscles, you also need to allow time for them to recover. Whether it’s doing something around the house or any kind of workout or exercise, your muscles need time to restore energy, heal tissue, and rebuild muscle. Infrared waves and heat both help this process and quicken recovery, helping aid in temporary pain relief, decreasing inflammation, increasing circulation and blood flow.

Stretching also helps with recovery by breaking the release of lactic acid, allowing muscles to recover and repair. Stretching also helps with blood flow.

What: Schedule a sauna session for muscle recovery today. A 30-minute session of medium, constant intensity will help mend your muscles. Include some stretching--you'll find 8 deep stretches that are great to do in a cabin sauna here.

Day 7: Don't Worry About Your Weight
Woman laying down in sauna

Why: The holidays are not the best time to try to lose weight, but they can be a great time to focus on practicing moderation and maintaining a healthy lifestyle in balance with celebrating the season. Giving yourself the daily habit of saunaing can be the most enjoyable way to help yourself do both: enjoy the holidays and keep the extra pounds off. 

What: Give yourself the gift of a sauna session today to sweat off those extra couple pounds or get your heart rate up with sauna’s passive cardio workout. Set your schedule for 30 to 40 minutes. Focus on feeling good about the choices you’re making to balance your wellness and waistline.

Day 8: Activate Anti-Aging

Why: The combination of sweat, increased circulation, cell rejuvenation, relaxation, and mindfulness that you can practice in a single infrared sauna session contributes to anti-aging activities in your body. Research has shown that mindfulness can reverse the cellular aging process. Adding it to the physical benefits of infrared waves means multiplying the benefits of your sauna time in an efficient and invaluable way to activate anti-aging and retain youthful vigor and vitality.

What: During your sauna time today, make mindfulness a part of your session and multiply the benefits during your time. Listen to Cardiologist Dr. Alejandro Junger’s 5-minute guided mindfulness or read the 5-steps here

Day 9: Rejuvenate Your Skin
Woman looking at her skin in the mirror.

Why: Fight back against the dryness of winter weather combined with the impacts of holiday business and stress. Sweat is so revitalizing to your skin because it draws oxygen and nutrients to the surface and rejuvenates cells and aids in moisturizing your skin naturally. It opens up your pores, helps release toxins, helps shed minerals and salt from the body acting as an exfoliator. After a good sweat, your skin can have a healthy glow.

What: Plan your sauna session around your skin health today. A 30 to 40-minute session will do wonders to keep your skin looking healthy. Treat yourself to Osea’s luxurious all-natural body glow duo for the ultimate skin care – dry brush first, then sauna, shower, and apply the oil afterward.

Day 10: Help Your Mental Health
Woman in Sunlighten Solo System

Why: As much as joy can be part of the season, so also can holiday blues, winter blues, seasonal affective disorder and depression. Infrared saunas are a sanctuary of wellness and can be an important part of maintaining mental health. Research is showing that heat “makes the brain happy,” and may help depression. Chromotherapy, available in all Sunlighten’s saunas, offers the benefits of colored light therapy (yellow, light green, sky blue, and ocean blue all have mental health benefits). Saunas are also a great place to meditate which research has also shown helps reduce inflammation, cortisol, and cytokine chemicals and increase calm. Reap double benefits from infrared plus meditation!

What: Schedule 45 minutes in your sauna to focus on mental wellness through the benefits of heat, chromotherapy and meditation. Try one of these meditation apps while in the sauna: Headspace; Balance; Neurocycle.

Day 11: Detoxify Your Body
Closeup on woman's sweating face

Why: Holiday stress also increases inflammation which then inhibits your body’s ability to detoxify. Overindulging also contributes to inflammation and can overload your liver. Sunlighten’s infrared saunas promote a deep detoxifying sweat that will leave you feeling cleansed, refreshed, and energized in the midst of the holiday season.

What: Help yourself keep feeling great with a 30 to 40-minute detox session in your sauna today. And remember, even if your body isn’t drenched in sweat, your body is still detoxifying with the infrared wavelengths; just feel your skin. Your skin will feel a little moist or possibly sticky.

Day 12: Stack Your Habits
Woman dry brushing her leg

Why: Building a wellness lifestyle happens one step at a time, and it’s a lot easier to attach a new habit to one you’re already doing. Habit stacking is a “hack” that skips right over the “21 days to form a habit” and allows you to build on the momentum of one good habit to form the next one simply by connecting them.

What: Add one thing to your sauna session today. It can be before, during or after. Some ideas to do while saunaing include fascia work (try a FasciaBlaster), dry brushing (here’s a how-to by RealFoodRN), or exercising (find 8 yoga poses for any size sauna cabin here).

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WRITTEN BY: Sunlighten

Shining light on infrared technology, Sunlighten® is the #1 choice for personalized infrared light treatments. Since 1999, we have been committed to innovating wellness products and services that empower our customers to improve their quality of life. Our patented SoloCarbon® technology rejuvenates the body by delivering the highest dose of infrared energy to the body - proven up to 99% effective. Our technological innovations are fueled by our passion to make a difference. And we are building a global community of businesses, consumers, and trusted experts to support each other along the way and make the world a healthier, happier place.

Sunlighten saunas are not a medical device as defined by Section 201(h) of the Food, Drug & Cosmetic Act. Sunlighten provides general information relating to various medical conditions for informational purposes only and is not meant to be a substitute for advice provided by a doctor or other qualified health care professional. Please consult with your physician regarding diagnosis or treatment.