You’ve probably used a hot compress to soothe a cramp or a cold compress to decrease swelling and inflammation and we’ve all reaped the benefits of soaking up some sunshine. Today I want to dive into three accessible natural solution modalities that can do wonders for your self-care routine and overall health and wellbeing: Infrared (Heat), Cryotherapy (Cold), and Chromotherapy (Light).
What is infrared? It’s light that can’t be seen with the human eye. Infrared light produces radiated heat. The same type of heat we feel from the sunlight, a fire, the sand at the beach on our bare feet, and even our own body. There are three types of infrared. Near Infrared – penetrates deep into our bodies increasing energy within our cells. Mid Infrared – is captured by water molecules within our body increasing circulation and elevating our heart rate. Far Infrared is the same type of heat produced by our own body, this boosts our energy.
Increase Blood Flow
Relieve Muscle Tension
Reduce Soreness & Pain
As you can see, the benefits of using infrared go beyond that of using traditional heat therapy. It’s less about heat and more about the light penetration. As the infrared waves penetrate deep into our body it stimulates the sweat glands. Sweating, as you know, is designed to help cool down the body temperature to avoid overheating. Aside from that amazing feat, sweating is a great way to help our body eliminate toxins.
I’ve owned an infrared sauna since 2013. I love the convenience of having one in our home and am diligent about using it 5-6 days a week, with my average session lasting about 45 minutes. Finding the time to do it can be a challenge, but I’ve made a choice to wake up two hours before the rest of my family – I use that time to kick-start my self-care routine: starting with my sauna, which I affectionately call my prayer box, showering/getting ready, as well as other self-care modalities like my gratitude practice.
I’m committed to using my infrared sauna because of the plethora of benefits. Unlike a traditional sauna that uses coals and steam to produce a moist heat, the infrared sauna is dry heat. In fact, 80% of the infrared light is penetrating the body and only 20% heats the air, so it makes for a more comfortable respiratory experience, for most. The other benefit over a traditional steam sauna is the amount of detoxification you get from each session. Since the infrared waves penetrate deep into the body your sweat contains roughly 17-20% toxins, compared to a mere 3-5% with a traditional steam sauna. I don’t know about you, but that seems like a much better use of my time.
If you’re not ready or willing to invest in a fancy-pants, free standing infrared sauna yet - I totally get it. There are probably select locations around your areas where you can pay per session to "try it out" or there are portable saunas, infrared blankets, and loads of other handheld infrared devices that can have great results for a specific area. If you're intrigued and want to learn more about infrared saunas, mine is a Clearlight Infrared Sauna
. You're welcome to email me back with questions as well, I can put you in touch with my personal connection, Jenny, who can email more info.
On the flip side of heat there’s cryotherapy - using cold temperatures to spur health benefits. This may seem less than ideal as many of us don’t enjoy the feeling of being cold. However, when done it short spurts and with intention, cold therapy can bring on a vast number of benefits that you might just find yourself “suffering” in the short-term for the long-term results.
Cryotherapy is used in the Western medical world setting by doctors to treat skin conditions like warts or skin tags, and even some cancers. For the purpose of this post I’m going to use cryotherapy and cold therapy interchangeably, but know that when doctors use cryotherapy the temperatures are usually somewhere between -150 and -300 degrees Fahrenheit.
You can find cryotherapy spas, a cold body of water, or create an ice bath at home, but the easiest way to start introducing your body to the benefits of cold therapy is to use the shower. You can ease into it by starting with warm water and slowly lowering the temperature until you can’t handle it or go for the gusto – take your shower as normal and end by turning the hot water off and see how long you can stand under the cold water.
To reap the above-mentioned benefits of cold therapy it’s recommended that the water is below 58 degrees. Where water is this cold, using cold therapy such as cold plugging or an ice bath there is a time limit – you don’t want to exceed more than 10 minutes. It will take you a while to work up to that, your initial goal will be 30 seconds, then 60 seconds, and so on. And depending on how cold the water is will depend on the recommended length of time. It has been proven to be safe and effective to repeat the process twice a day, once in the morning and once at night.
Chromotherapy, also know as light therapy, uses the vibration of colors to treat physical symptoms. Each color creates a different energetic field that transfers into the body and can have scientifically proven health benefits. There are all sorts of light therapy devices that you can purchase ranging from under $10 to thousands of dollars. There are masks and wands, mats and panels. Depending on your need you can even find an array of light therapy treatments in spas and medical facilities.
Reduce Inflammation & Swelling
Since every color creates its own unique energy I’ll leave you with a very short overview of what each of the primary colors can do with a chromotherapy guide.
RED: circulation – youthful skin, boost metabolism
BLUE: lowers blood pressure – combats acne (reduces bacteria), pain reliever
GREEN: calms nervous system – evens complexion, fights infections
YELLOW: purifies blood – reduces redness, cleansing, increases happiness
ORANGE: reduces localized fat – radiant glowing complexion, eases digestive system, energizing
PURPLE: relaxes muscles – pain reliever, aids in detoxification
WHITE: stimulates serotonin – provides energy, regulates mood
I highly recommend finding a way to incorporate all three of these into your self-care routine. Cold therapy may be the easiest as far as a time and financial commitment. And while none of these have to be done daily, the benefits are so profound that even if you find 5 minutes as part of your bedtime routine to use a light therapy mask could do wonders, at least for your skin. If you decide to look into getting an infrared sauna you can marry light therapy along with it by adding a chromotherapy panel to it. Boom! Look at that, habit stacking at its finest.