Are sauna-goers happier people?

It is well known that regular visits to a sauna have health-promoting effects on the entire body. Even just one visit to the sauna noticeably and measurably improves a person's overall physical condition and strengthens the immune system. But does the sauna also have a positive effect on the psyche? We investigated the question.
A place for relaxation

Can a visit to the sauna make us happy?

Since time immemorial, mankind has experienced that heat spreads a comfortable atmosphere. First campfires, later fireplaces and the first saunas were always places of relaxation and regeneration of spent energy. People recovered from a hard day, warmed up their bodies and relaxed before going to bed. Even today, the sauna visit is often at the end of a day to recover from stress and then comfortably go to bed.

Therefore, it is obvious that in addition to the relaxing and healing effect for the body, the mental relaxation effect also plays a major role. You close your eyes, leave the stress of work behind and surrender to the peace and a meditative overall mood. This alone creates a positive atmosphere and invites you to relax. It is able to “let our soul dangle”.

Doing something good for body and soul

But now the media are even talking about the fact that the sauna could make you happy. Apparently, medical experts have found evidence that the sauna is not only healthy for the body, but also for the soul. Becoming happy while sweating? To do this, we first need to look at what the heat does to us.

Dynorphins and endorphins

To understand what chemical reactions take place in our body and hormonal system when we expose ourselves to heat, let’s clarify what the latest research says about it: the peptide dynorphin is released in our body when we expose ourselves to great, athletic activity or extreme heat – like that found in a sauna.

Surprisingly, however, this peptide first causes a feeling of discomfort. This in turn sets off a chain reaction in the body that increases the amount of opioid receptors that react with endorphins. However, these, which are also known as “happy hormones,” then subsequently provide a deep sense of comfort and happiness. In other words, the more we expose our bodies to athletic or heat stress, the stronger the feeling of happiness will be afterward!

What does science say?

International studies now prove scientifically and by means of field studies that this is not just gray theory, but really works in practice. To this end, researchers have focused particularly on the far north, where saunas have been practiced for centuries.

The happiest people in the world live in Finland

Is it really pure coincidence that one of the darkest and coldest countries, which is also considered the cradle of the sauna, apparently has very happy inhabitants? For years, Finland has occupied one of the first places in the ranking of the happiest countries. It is a fact that Finns spend more time in the sauna than in the gym or doing other sports. According to a study led by Professor Jari Laukkanen of the University of Eastern Finland, sauna use clearly has neuroprotective benefits and can alleviate depression.

Furthermore, the study demonstrates that sauna visits stimulate our brain activity and even prevent Alzheimer’s disease. Obviously, people especially in Scandinavia have been enjoying all the benefits of sauna for centuries, but without being fully aware of the individual aspects. Even in this century, people have talked almost exclusively about the enormous, health effects on the body.

Of course, the relaxing effect on the mind and soul has also been emphasized for a long time, which is also enhanced with aromatic oils and soft music. But the proof that saunas make happy was missing until now. Thanks to the latest studies mentioned above, we now have one more reason to visit the sauna!

Conclusion

Every time you enter a sauna, substances are released that make you feel positive. That’s why you usually feel a little tired after a sauna session, but still in a good mood and relaxed. And the people in your immediate surroundings also notice this. Because not only does your skin glow, but you are also full of joie de vivre and give this back to your surroundings positively.

 

David Brunner
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