Saunas help chase away the winter blues


Winter solstice, 21 December, the longest night of the year. From then until 21 June (i.e. the longest night of the year), the nights are getting shorter again, with a few extra seconds of daylight every day. On the longest night, we spend more than 16 hours in darkness. That’s a whole lot of darkness! No wonder it affects our moods.

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About 4% of us will experience SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), a winter depression, while at least 25% of us report suffering from a low mood in the winter. This is caused by a lack of daylight. Daylight hits our eyes and travels via the optic nerve to the pituitary gland, which triggers it to secrete serotonin. Serotonin is the hormone that helps us cope better with stress and makes us happier.

As you can see, it is important to get as much daylight as possible in the winter too. Spend some time outside every day if you can. One way to do so is to go for a walk during your lunch break.

And don’t think you need to be stuck indoors all day during your day of sauna and wellness. Several of our facilities are outside. Among them, our heated swimming pools and Jacuzzis. Gloriously warm oases of relaxation. Take that, winter chill! Also, some of our saunas are situated in the garden or on the terrace (such as the Castle Sauna at Thermae Boetfort or the Wood Stove Sauna at Thermae Grimbergen). And the gardens themselves are peaceful green places to stroll around.

Believe it or not, cooling down outside in the winter gives you a real kick. And, if you do it right, you don’t have to worry about catching a cold either. The best way to cool down? Most people jump into the cold plunge pool, like hardy polar bears, but that’s not really the way to do it. It’s better to go for a short walk outside first and take a few deep breaths in and out. Because of the heat in the sauna, condensation has formed in your alveoli – a completely natural process – which is expelled when you breathe out, cooling down your lungs in the process. Don’t go outside barefoot, wear slippers. Not only because it prevents falls, but also to keep your feet warm. When your feet get cold, you cool down too quickly. Once you have stopped sweating, it’s time to have a (cold) shower. Start off at your feet and work your way up. The cold makes your blood vessels constrict, which stops your body from cooling down further. And, if you want to have a dip in the cold plunge pool afterwards, now is the time! Make sure to have a short break before heading back into the sauna!

So, yes, a day of sauna and wellness does help stave off the winter blues. Give yourself or a loved one a winter boost with a gift voucher for a day’s entry to the public baths or one of our many packages!

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