Good for heart and mind

Studies suggest that sauna bathing at least 3 times per week provides protection against cardiovascular problems and dementia. Both are worthy benefits.

I’d like to submit another benefit from my own personal research.  The Peters study shows that sauna bathing also provides protection against relationship stress and drift.

A few years ago, we moved into a house that had a sauna.  You’re likely envisioning an extravagant master bath from Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous.  Ours is basically a 9×9 red cedar box with a space heater in it.  You sit on benches in towel wraps, toss water onto the “coals” periodically for steam, and sweat.  An hour-glass of orange sand trickles the count-down from 15 minutes. 7.5 more minutes. 3 more minutes. 1 more minute. Done.

After 18 months of lock-down, the sauna is now my favorite 15 minutes of the day. 7pm. The time between work and dinner. I’m focused and alone with the husband, sweating, in a quiet place void of all technology or other interference.  The heat immediately puts my engine on idle. I sink into myself, leaning into the wall, accepting, and anxious about nothing.  It’s so hot, I can only just be there.

One of us starts a topic from the day’s stimuli. Our speech is slow and low.  That discussion plays out about 6 mins.  Then the other person volleys with a topic from the day.  That plays out about 6 minutes.  3 minutes of sand remain to just be there.  It’s the kind of peace you get driving in total silence on a long night drive with someone special. You glance to catch each other’s eyes for a second and share a smile that has a history behind it. 

I’m grateful for a house that happened to have a 9×9 red cedar box in it (a feature I thought I’d never use). I’m grateful that COVID gave us this time together to find 15, truly-focused, minutes. 

It’s true.  Saunas are good for the heart and mind.  My study proves it.

If it’s 7pm, and you need me, I’ll ring you back in 15 minutes.