In our current climate of uncertainty, anxiety, and precaution our nerves are exhausted. You may not even notice triggers that launch your body’s responses for defense as we navigate life among the outbreak of COVID-19. Routine chores may feel mind numbingly dull and trips to the store may feel like a gamble for you and your family’s health. Mental health should be at the forefront of our concerns as quarantine continues on for weeks and weeks. Nearly everyone will experience some level of heightened anxiety or depression during this time. This is completely within the realm of reason and natural as our circumstances, environment, and routines have been altered so drastically.

A variety of tools can be used to ensure our minds and our bodies are receiving the attention and care needed to stay strong and functioning. That may come in the form of a walk outside, reading a good book, or phone calls to friends and family. Most importantly, we have to recognize that our situation is temporary. Our emotions and responses are part of our temporary state; acknowledge them without feeling guilty or ashamed.

Remarkably, saunas can also be used to combat mild depression. Hyperthermia (increasing the body’s temperature with extreme heat conditions) has been studied for its affect on those with mild depression. Sauna bathing is highly beneficial for those with inflammatory disease as it improves blood circulation and decreases inflammation. Many people with inflammatory diseases also experience depression. By treating the inflammation, they experience reduced systems and improved mood.

One study treated mildly depressed patients with 20 minutes of heat therapy five times a week. After four weeks, subjects reported increased appetite, improved mood, higher levels of relaxation, and decreased complaints of other ailments.

The science behind the sauna’s success at fighting depression is that when our bodies are subjected to intense heat, we ignite multiple responses to protect ourselves. Our endocrine system launches opioids as part of the pain killing response to match our discomfort. That response can initiate relaxation and improved mood. Now, it is not lost on us that the sauna use response is similar to the physiological response we experience with mild to moderate exercise. Those who exercise regularly can always attest to its ability to boost mood and improve mental health. However, sauna use can be readily available to those unable to exercise or those wishing to prolong the benefits of exercise and increase performance.

Whether your mood is altered because of a worldwide pandemic or other life stressors and circumstances, sauna use can be a natural tool to fight the onset of depression. Its wide range of health benefits can bless you physically and mentally now and into the future.