COVID-19 has affected millions of people around the world, but the impact has been unparalleled for healthcare workers who have been working tirelessly to reduce the spread of infection, treat those who are sick and formulate strategies to manage the crisis.
Studies have revealed consistent reports of heightened stress, anxiety and even depressive symptoms as they deal with the weight of the pandemic . Because of this, healthcare workers are searching for ways to effectively deal with stress and fatigue — one such method could be infrared saunas, which is one of today’s most well known form of alternative therapy.
Infrared saunas essentially work similarly to traditional saunas, except they don’t heat the air around you. Instead, they make use of infrared heaters that heat your body directly.
As explained in "How Do They Work? The Science Behind Infrared Saunas", some people have had problems handling the extremely hot air in traditional saunas. This problem pushed scientists to develop infrared saunas that create significantly lower and bearable temperatures, allowing you to extend your stay in the sauna. Healthcare workers can definitely profit from infrared saunas, as they offer various health benefits. Here's how:
De-stressing and Relaxation
Healthcare workers around the world have faced inadequate resources, lack of manpower, and other circumstances that are out of their control. Furthermore, Maryville University's primer on DNP professionals highlights that there is a shortage of around 100,000 healthcare workers, with a greater scarcity in rural and inner-city communities.
Because they have been stretched too thin, nurses are among the most overworked healthcare professionals on the field and are often in desperate need of ways to de-stress and relax. Doctors have emphasized the importance of taking a break from work and distancing yourself from constantly watching, reading or listening to news stories regarding the pandemic as much as you can.
Infrared saunas are an effective way to relax and get away from issues that are worrying you. While relaxing in an infrared sauna, you can read, meditate, listen to music or check in with your friends, all while enjoying its various health benefits.
Studies have shown that regular sauna use lowers your levels of cortisol, your body’s main stress hormone. Sweating also increases relaxation and reduces feelings of frustration and anxiety, in addition to its main detoxifying benefits. Moreover, infrared saunas can help regulate your sleep cycle, which can help health workers become more well-rested.
Relief From Sore Muscles and Joint Pain
Of course, the physical repercussions of the pandemic in itself aren’t to be underestimated. George Mason University reported that nurses and doctors are falling sick themselves and that COVID-19 surges have been affecting the staff’s capabilities, especially during the winter season.
Healthcare workers are likely suffering from chronic pain (moderate to severe), as well as back and lower-limb pain. Of the diagnosable symptoms, lumbar spondylosis is the most common. Moreover, 50% of nurses report that their lives and sleep are often disrupted by the lingering pain, and only 13.4% say that they seek formal medication to combat their illness .
Infrared saunas have been found to ease pain when used regularly; some reported fewer symptoms associated with chronic conditions like arthritis, fibromyalgia and other inflammatory conditions. In general, it reduces muscle soreness, tension headaches, joint pain and increases recovery for illnesses as it boosts cell regeneration and the immune system. Additionally, saunas can increase beta-endorphin levels in the body, which are pain-relieving compounds released during exercise.
Overall Improved Wellness
Other benefits of infrared saunas include lung and cardiovascular health. In some studies, people who used saunas had a lower risk of pneumonia, and others experienced an improvement in asthma symptoms. Saunas can also reduce blood pressure, preventing hypertension and cardiovascular diseases .
Heat has always been associated with physiological and psychological benefits; and is often regarded as life itself. That's why it’s always been part of therapy and healing, and the research regarding the correlations between heat and wellness has always been expanding.
Infrared saunas are a product of this research, and their current popularity has been brought about due to their numerous health effects. Healthcare professionals will no doubt benefit from these. After all, they play a central and critical role in providing quality health care for the population, and so it's only right to say that their health is also a priority.
 Jacob Shreffler, Jessica Petrey, Martin Huecker. (2020). “The Impact of COVID-19 on Healthcare Worker Wellness: A Scoping Review.” Pubmed.com, PubMed, August 2020, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32970555/.
 Ji Guan, Dongmei Wu, Xuping Xie, et al. (2019). “Occupational Factors Causing Pain Among Nurses in Mainland China.” ncbi.nlm.nih.gov, NCBI, February 2019, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6376633/.
 Jerome Sarris, Michael de Manincor, Fiona Hargraves, et al. (2019). “Harnessing the Four Elements for Mental Health.” frontiersin.org, Frontiers, April 2019, https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyt.2019.00256/full.