19 best habits to make your sauna experience a success

We all love a good sauna session to relax and unwind, but have you ever wondered if there are certain habits you can adopt to get the most out of your sauna time? Well, wonder no more…..! I’ve rounded up some of the best habits to help you make the most of your sauna sessions.

I will first give you the full list of the best habits for successful sauna-ing……! Then, I’ll discuss each of these sauna habits in more detail.  

19 best habits for the ultimate sauna routine – full list:

  1. Stay Hydrated.
  2. Start Slow and Work Your Way Up.
  3. Use Aromatherapy.
  4. Find the Right Temperature.
  5. Set the Mood.
  6. Use the Right Accessories.
  7. Take a Cold Shower or Dip.
  8. Do the Sauna After Exercise.
  9. Use a Timer.
  10. Stretch It Out.
  11. Follow the Rules.
  12. Take Breaks as Needed.
  13. Use the Sauna for What It’s Meant For.
  14. Mix Up Your Sauna Routine.
  15. Incorporate Other Relaxation Techniques.
  16. Take a Sauna with a Friend or Group.
  17. Use the Sauna as Part of a Wellness Routine.
  18. Don’t Overdo It.
  19. Have Fun!

Habit 1: Stay Hydrated

This might seem like a no-brainer, but it’s important to stay hydrated before, during, and after your sauna session. Since the heat of the sauna makes you sweat so intensively, you lose more fluids than you might think. So, it’s important to replenish those to make you stay on top.

Bring a water bottle with you and take a few sips every time you catch a break outside of the sauna. (However, leave the bottle outside of the actual sauna room!) Also remember to drink lots of water after the sauna session.

I personally drink at least about 1.5 liter (50 ounces) during and after each of my sauna visits, I prefer drinking the big chunk right after my session. However, everyone is different, and it also depends a lot on body size.

You have to find the amount that is right for you. For example, don’t force down a bunch of water just for the sake of it, if you have a small frame and may not require that much!

Habit 2: Start Slow and Work Your Way Up

Many people tend to always put a lot of pressure on themselves, push themselves to the limit. I know, because I’m one of these people. However, I have come to learn that this doesn’t really work for saunas, especially when starting out.

Instead, if you’re new to saunas or just getting back into it after a break, it’s important to take it slow. Start with shorter sauna sessions and gradually work your way up to longer ones. This will give your body time to adjust to the heat and prevent you from overdoing it.

Trust me, there’s nothing worse than feeling like you’re about to get dizzy in the sauna. Take it easy and listen to your body!

Habit 3: Use Aromatherapy

One of the best things about saunas is the ability to add some extra relaxation with aromatherapy. Essential oils like lavender, eucalyptus, and peppermint can help to enhance the sauna experience and provide some added benefits.

An easy way of trying this out (that can be done anywhere) is to just add a few drops to a towel. However, do blend them out with a base oil if you try this, as they can come in contact with your skin.

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Also, thread carefully with essential oils, and start out with very small amount if you’re new and do not yet know how you will react to them. They can be much more powerful than you may think, especially in heated conditions.

Habit 4: Find the Right Temperature

Everyone has their own preference when it comes to sauna temperature, and it’s important that you find your own right balance. Too hot and you might feel uncomfortable or dizzy, too cold and you might not get the full benefits of the sauna.

Experiment with different temperatures and see what works best for you. And remember, it’s always a good idea to take a break and cool down if you start to feel overwhelmed. Also, you will notice that you’ll be able to tolerate the heat better with experience, so you might want to readjust the temperature based on that too. (By the way, if you want to learn how to make saunas hotter, I’ve written an article on this here.)

Habit 5: Set the Mood

The sauna is a great place to relax and unwind, so why not set the mood to match? Consider playing some soothing music, or bringing a book or magazine to read. Creating a relaxing atmosphere can help you truly relax and get the most out of your sauna time.

Habit 6: Use the Right Accessories

There are all sorts of accessories you can use to enhance your sauna experience, from sauna hats to backrests. Experiment with different accessories and see what works best for you.

Just make sure to check the rules first however if you’re using a public sauna. Some public facilities have restrictions as to what you can bring with you to the sauna.

Habit 7: Take a Cold Shower or Dip

After a sauna session, it’s a good idea to cool down with a cold shower or dip. This can help to close your pores. It also, in my experience, wakes up the body. Thus, if you’re not doing the sauna session in the evening, it’s a great way to make you energetic again for the rest of the day.

Alternating between hot and cold is a great way to test your body. This also has various benefits on its own. Just be sure to start with a shorter cold shower or dip and work your way up to longer ones, as your body adjusts to the temperature change.

Habit 8: Do the Sauna After Exercise

Saunas can be a great addition to your fitness routine, as they can help aid in recovery after a workout. Just be sure to listen to your body and take it easy, as the heat of the sauna can be intense.

It’s also a good idea to hydrate well after a sauna session, especially if you’ve done exercise before. Bring an extra water bottle with you, to sip on after the sauna session!

Habit 9: Use a Timer

One of the easiest ways to get the most out of your sauna session is to use a timer. Just set the timer to your desired time. That way, you can sit back, relax, and enjoy your sauna time without worrying about staying for too long.

A lot of saunas have a sand-glass timer on the wall. It’s usually set up so that it takes 15 minutes for its sand to run through. So you can just flip the sand-glass when you walk into the sauna, and you’ll know when the 15 minutes have passed.

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Using a timer also enables you to compare the length of time of your various sauna sessions. For example, were your sessions at the beginning, when you were new to sauna, shorter than today? Do you stay longer in the sauna if you go in the morning versus in the evening? Using a timer offers endless possibilities of testing and experimenting!

Habit 10: Stretch It Out

Saunas can be a great place to do some light stretching, as the heat can help to loosen up your muscles. Just be sure to take it easy and listen to your body, as the heat of the sauna can be intense.

Some stretches to try in the sauna include seated forward folds, pigeon pose, and seated spinal twists. Just make sure to use a towel to protect your skin from the hot surfaces.

I personally often do some lighter type of hot yoga in the sauna. When doing this, I take lots of breaks outside in-between. I also usually bring two towels, so that the whole sauna bench is covered. That way I won’t burn myself on any of the bare surfaces when I lie down and stretch.

Habit 11: Follow the Rules

It might seem like a no-brainer, but following the rules of the sauna is important for your own safety and the enjoyment of others. This includes following any posted rules or guidelines, and being mindful of the noise level. This will make it more enjoyable not only for others, but for yourself, because you will get friendlier responses from your fellow sauna-users!

If you have a home sauna however, you can of course set your own rules! (Just remember to still follow the common-sense safety recommendations.)

Habit 12: Take Breaks as Needed

While saunas can be a great way to relax and unwind, it’s important to listen to your body and take breaks as needed. If you start to feel dizzy or overwhelmed, it’s a good idea to step out of the sauna and cool down. You can also try taking breaks in between sauna sessions to allow your body to recover and get the most out of your sauna time.

I usually take a lot of breaks outside. This means I can do several mini-sessions during one sauna visit. That way I can spend more time overall in the sauna, if you add it all up!

Habit 13: Use the Sauna for What It’s Meant For

Saunas are a great place to relax and unwind, but they’re not meant for everything. It’s important to use the sauna for what it’s meant for and not bring any more invasive, outside items or activities into the sauna. This includes phones, food, or soda-drinks.

Just focusing on the sauna experience and being present in the moment, is a great way to just relax and get the most out of the sauna time. (That being said however, brining in the occasional book to have read is a different story..!)

Habit 14: Mix Up Your Sauna Routine

While it’s important to find a sauna routine that works for you, it’s also a good idea to mix things up from time to time. Consider trying different sauna types, incorporating different stretches or light exercises, or trying out different aromatherapy scents.

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By mixing up your sauna routine, you can keep things fresh and exciting. Mixing it up also challenges the body in new ways, which has several benefits.

Habit 15: Incorporate Other Relaxation Techniques

Saunas are a great way to relax and unwind, but they can be even more effective when combined with other relaxation techniques.

Consider incorporating activities like meditation, yoga, or deep breathing into your sauna routine to enhance the relaxation benefits. You can also try listening to music or nature sounds, or practicing visualization or guided imagery.

As mentioned, I often do yoga as part of my sauna session, and this works really well for me. I also do some breathing exercises in the hot room, but only those kinds that are gentle and do not emphasise inhales. Keep in mind that your throat will get dry if you do heavy inhaling, so its better to stick to gentle breathing exercises!

Habit 16: Take a Sauna with a Friend or Group

Saunas can be a great way to connect with friends or family, and they can be even more enjoyable when shared. Consider inviting a friend or group to join you in the sauna for some added socialization and camaraderie.

The best thing is if you can find a friend or colleague that is going consistently. It can be a great idea to make a habit of going together. That way, you won’t get bored in the sauna, and you will feel some social pressure to go those lazy days when you’re about to skip the session!

Habit 17: Use the Sauna as Part of a Wellness Routine

One great habit is to try incorporating saunas into your regular wellness routine, either as a standalone activity or as part of a larger wellness regimen. For example, try pairing saunas with other wellness activities like exercise, nutrition, or stress management techniques. By using the sauna as part of an overall wellness routine, you can truly take it to the next level!

Habit 18: Don’t Overdo It

Finally, it’s important to remember that saunas are meant for relaxation and should not be used to the point of exhaustion. It’s important to listen to your body and take breaks as needed. Don’t overdo it with too long sauna sessions just for the sake of it! Be gentle to yourself and try to leave any performance-stress outside of the hot room.

Habit 19: Have Fun!

Finally, it’s important to remember that saunas are meant to be enjoyable and should be approached with a sense of fun and relaxation. Don’t take things too seriously!

So there you have it: Some of the best habits to help you get the most out of your sauna session. These little habits can really, at least in my experience, optimize the sauna time!

What did you think of these habits? Have you tried them? And is there a habit that you really like, that was not included in the list? I would love to read your ideas in the comments!


Author: Anna Svensson

Anna is a Scandinavian who grew up with saunas. She has had a life-long love for, and interest in, saunas. In this blog, she shares her best hacks and things she has learned about saunas over the years. You can read more about Anna in the “About” page.

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