I love saunas. One of my favourite things to do on a Sunday afternoon in winter is to jump in the ice-cold water at Bondi Icebergs and then hop in the sauna upstairs. For 20 whole minutes, or however long I could manage to stay in there without getting dizzy, I’d sit, phoneless and sweating out the toxins I’d no doubt brought into my body the night before.
But, since lockdown 2.0 started nearly four months ago in Sydney, I haven’t been able to do that. So, when I was offered the opportunity to try the MiHIGH Infrared Sauna Blanket, I jumped at the chance. New in Australia, the blanket promised to do a slew of good things, including but not limited to promoting blood flow, releasing toxins, boosting collagen, reducing stress, improving sleep and — very much needed in lockdown — stimulating happy chemicals. I couldn’t wait.
The blanket looked like bulky sleeping bag. It came with a bag to store it in between uses (much like with a sleeping bag, I don’t know how I’ll be able to stuff it into the bag), an instruction booklet and a ‘read before use’ flyer, which made a little scared as I can occasionally be forgetful and careless.
“While in use, do not place the controller on any hot surface of the blanket,” it read. “Additionally, do not fold the blanket while it is hot and cooling down.” Another tip: “Always unplug from the mains socket when not in use”.
The ‘do not’s, to me, spelt ‘this is serious business — we’re not messing around with safety here’. Now, having used the blanket a few times, I can say that it’s definitely not as hectic as the ‘do not’ flyer made it sound.
When I use it, I simply unroll it on top of my doona on my bed, plug it in and set the temperature level setting (1-9) and the time I want it to be on for (60 minutes is the max). All that takes about two minutes.
Then I strip down to my underwear or PJs (interestingly, the flyer read ‘do not use the blanket without wearing clothing), and hop in. I either climb through the top or un-Velcro the length of the bag and then re-Velcro myself in, so that I’m wrapped like a burrito.
So far, while in the blanket I’ve done a few things. I should probably mention that you can either have your arms inside the blanket or can inch yourself up a little and have them outside so you can hold something. I’ve read a book, listened to a meditation on Headspace, played on my phone and sometimes, done nothing at all.
I would frequently change the temperature setting, up or down, depending on if I felt I could handle more or less heat and found the control pad to do this super easy to use.
I always emerged from the blanket, dripping in sweat with everything I was wearing soaking through. As for if I felt calmer and happier, I certainly felt calmer — though, spending that amount of time laying down and purposefully unwinding, I can’t say I wouldn’t have felt that way if I was just lying on under my doona.
In saying that, it’s been a fun toy to have. I love knowing I have it so I can make a self-care activity out of it and spend some time pampering myself. Now that I don’t have a bathtub at my new rental, the sauna blanket is the next best thing. This past Saturday, it was storming outside and so, with nothing else to do inside, I decided to unroll it and lay in it for 45 minutes. It felt so cosy while the storm pounded against my windows.
Will I use the sauna blanket consistently? I think I will. Though it is bulky, it fits in the closet just outside my room for convenient access. So, whenever I’m feeling stressed and in need of a pick-me-up, or simply just bored, I’m sure I’ll be grabbing it to use.
I’d recommend it to anyone who loves self-care, or loves the feeling of being cosy (who doesn’t?). Because even after lockdown ends and public saunas reopen, it’s nice knowing you have something you can take out to make you feel that much better or to entertain you on an otherwise uneventful morning or evening.