Being busy is one of the biggest obstacles in adopting a new wellness habit. It’s often used as an excuse not to do something – look at the number of people who say they don’t have time to exercise but can Netflix for hours – but it is a valid reason. You may literally not have enough time in the day to do something, which is why you need to do two things.
First, pick the type of wellness activity that you believe initially will give you a sense of contentment. “This is a focus on the ‘experience’ you feel,” says Angel Iscovich, M.D., author of The Art of Routine. “You want to make the time and savor the experience.” That includes, for instance, sipping a cup of tea in the morning, going for a run or in this case, slipping into your sauna.
Then find your why. That ‘why’ will not only help motivate you to do something, but it will also make it more likely that you’ll fit this practice into your day. “If you’re committed to something, you’ll probably go out of your way to make sure it happens,” says Fumi Stephanie Hancock, D.N.P., psychiatric mental health doctor of nurse practice in Spring Hill, Tenn., and bestselling author. Ask yourself this: Why do you want to add sauna to your day?
Of course, there is a caveat: You still have only 24 hours in a day, and while you may want to do everything, “it’s unrealistic to think you can sustain everything,” Hancock says. So be honest with yourself and think about what you can sustain and what you’re willing to change in order to add this new wellness practice to your life.
Time aside, establishing a new habit requires some subtle shifting of the mind and your daily activities. Once you’ve identified your big why, you can start getting into a routine, something people often mistake for a habit, but the two are different. “A habit usually manifests itself as an automatic urge to do something, often triggered by a particular cue,” Iscovich says. “Habits happen with little or no conscious thought whereas routines require a higher degree of intention and effort.” Over time though, a routine can become more automated and turn into a habit.
To do this, Iscovich recommends picking a wellness activity – in this case, slipping into your sauna – that will give you a sense of contentment. Then, think about timing that activity with your circadian rhythms, understanding that there are times of the day that are better suited for various activities. For instance, exercise is often best in the earlier morning or later afternoon, while the afternoon is often best suited for a mental break. When might sauna work best with your rhythms?
Most importantly, “do this new practice in a routine with regularity and rhythm,” Iscovich says. To help with this, consider scheduling your daily sauna sessions on your phone as a reminder or if you have a Sunlighten mPulse model, do the scheduling on your sauna tablet
Here’s another trick: habit stack your sauna session so that it accompanies an already established habit. “Pair them up in an automatic way so that the mind doesn’t have time to put up excuses and resistance,” says Meg Jordan, Ph.D., R.N., professor of Integrative Health Studies at California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco, board-certified health coach and author of How to Be a Health Coach.
For instance, if you’re aiming to walk 30 minutes a day and you take the bus to work, you might choose a route that makes you walk a bit longer either from home or to the office. Or if you’re trying to build strength, you might stack two things like doing strength exercises every time after you brush your teeth in the morning so the two become inseparable.
Want to try this with your sauna practice? Maybe you pair sauna session with another activity like meditation, so that whenever you meditate, you get into your sauna. Or maybe you stack saunaing with another habit like stretching or yoga so that every time you do one of those activities, you hit the sauna.
Nothing feels better than feeling better. So feel better with your sauna routine in 2022.