Cedar and Stone Nordic Sauna


Why Sauna and Dry January *Just Make Sense*

Sick of broken resolutions? 

As we begin another year, we often find ourselves making promises or resolutions to improve our habits, health, well-being, and more. Maybe you’re trying to kick an old vice or focus on improving your health in the new year. Which begs the question, how do we do this in a lasting and meaningful way? This year, we suggest skipping the resolution and taking actionable steps toward your goal. If you’re asking yourself what this has to do with sauna or Dry January, hold tight, we’re getting there. 

James Clear, author of the popular book Atomic Habits, often talks about the process of habit stacking. He champions that “one of the best ways to build a new habit is to identify a current habit you already do each day and then stack your new behavior on top. By linking your new habits to a cycle that is already built into your brain, you make it more likely that you’ll stick to the new behavior.” He’s even shared his formula for how to incorporate this into daily practice – after/before [current habit], I will [new habit.] For example, after I sauna and/or cold plunge I will fuel my body with sustenance rather than alcohol.

"One of the best ways to build a new habit is to identify a current habit you already do each day and then stack your new behavior on top."

As many health routines recommend, being conscientious about what substances we put in our body is paramount to creating noticeable change in our physical, mental, or emotional wellness whether it be through food, beverage, or otherwise.

In the last decade, we’ve seen more and more Americans cutting out alcohol consumption for 31 days in honor of challenges like Dry January. Originally launched in the UK as a public health initiative in 2012 by Alcohol Change UK, this campaign has taken the world by storm. 

So why have social experiments like Dry January and Sober October resonated and continued to see participation levels skyrocket? It’s simple, really. The application of eliminating alcohol for even 30 days has shown numerous physical and mental health benefits along with financial improvement (and has the science to prove it.) Sounds familiar, right?  When stacked with your sauna habit, you’ll see changes that positively affect your entire well-being.

Benefits of Dry January:

  1. More Zzz’s –  Much like sauna, cutting out alcohol for even 30 days has been scientifically proven to improve sleep. “Sleep services all aspects of our body in one way or another: molecular, energy balance, as well as intellectual function, alertness, and mood,” shares sleep expert and neuroscientist Dr. Merrill Mitler. A consistent lack of sleep can also result in excess weight gain.
  2. Improved Energy + Mood Levels – Be prepared to experience more energy and a better mood when you take alcohol out of your daily or weekly routine. With the added benefits that come with better sleep, you’re far more likely to wake up on the right side of the bed, providing you with the energy you need to tackle the day. 
  3. Weight Loss – There are many reasons why decreasing alcohol intake can help with weight loss, from improving sleep to reducing empty calories and helping control cravings for other unhealthy foods or beverages. If you’ve been struggling to reach your desired body weight, alcohol may actually be a part of the cause. Paired with the benefits of cold plunge, which increases metabolism and burns calories, lower alcohol levels and hot and cold therapy are a match made in heaven.
  4. Heart Health – “Excessive alcohol intake can lead to high blood pressure, heart failure or stroke. Excessive drinking can also contribute to cardiomyopathy, a disorder that affects the heart muscle,” shares Hopkins Medicine. Along with increasing cholesterol and blood pressure rates, alcohol can have a significant impact on your health.

Still Thirsty? Alternatives to Alcohol

When asked about the correlation between sauna and Dry January,  Cedar and Stone Founder + CEO Justin Juntunen reflected, “Many people need alcohol to be a social lubricant, helping them feel comfortable in social settings. Part of the beauty of sauna is not only the physical health benefit but also the fact that it provides a low-stress and easy social environment to connect with other people, without the aid of alcohol. It always amazes me how quickly you can get into deep conversations and make friends when doing challenging things, especially when being in a hot room and jumping in cold water.”

"Part of the beauty of sauna is that it is not only a physical health benefit but it also provides a low-stress and easy social environment to connect with other people."

If you’re ready to double down on the health benefits of sauna and cold exposure, it may be time to consider removing alcohol from your routine for at least a month. Habit stacking is the perfect way to build a new habit into your routine, and who knows, you may find yourself limiting your alcohol intake over time. 

With many alcohol-free beverage options now on the market, you’ll find it easier than ever to see success and reap the health benefits with these monthly challenges (queue shameless plug).

In partnership with Portage Brewing, we’ve crafted a beverage for those looking for an alternative to alcohol, inspired by our experiences in Northern Minnesota’s winter cold and the countless hours spent inside saunas that always followed. Sauna Water highlights aromatics of fresh spruce and awakening spices, with a thirst-quenching acidity of citrus fruits to keep everything in balance.

“What a lot of people are doing in January to be intentional about their health, is what originally inspired us to make Sauna Water. That dedication to set some boundaries around alcohol, even if for one month, to create enough room to build some healthier habits. Sauna and all of the wonderful rituals and benefits that surround it, happened to be a habit that stuck for us, and we’re so happy to be a part of this movement alongside Cedar + Stone,” shared Jeff Vondenkamp, owner of Portage Brewing.

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