Flotation therapy is an escape from the constant stress of life’s daily pressures and a natural way to heal the body, mind, and soul. The concept is similar to the mineral salt baths in the Dead Sea in Israel, except this occurs in sensory deprived spa like setting. One thousand pounds of medical grade Epsom salts are dissolved into 10 inches of water that is heated to your skin temperature in an enclosed space that is light, and sound proofed. This safe, peaceful, sensation frees you of gravity, noise, and other distractions; optimizing the human experience. Flotation therapy brings the body back into homeostasis.
Veterans and First Responders are among those who benefit the most from the unique combination of benefits that floating and sensory deprivation offer. In combination with other traditional therapies, it is a natural, narcotic free, superior tool for unwinding the effects of PTSD and its many co-factors – such as depression and anxiety – in addition to aiding recovery from traumatic brain injuries, concussions and blast-induced neuro-trauma. The large exposure of magnesium-rich Epsom salts via the skin, is also one of the most effective ways of physically de-stressing the body and helping return it to peak performance. There’s even some preliminary evidence suggesting that neurological changes that occur during a float – stimulation of the nucleus accumbens, the dopamine center, with simultaneous de-activation of the medial prefrontal cortex, where (often compulsive) decisions are made – may aid in recovery from addictive behaviors that often follow sufferers of PTSD and those who have experienced trauma.
See below for detailed explanations of why floating helps with deep relaxation, stress relief, pain management, and enhanced creativity and focus.
Floating, with no light or sound, is one of the fastest and most effective ways to elicit the body’s natural relaxation response and enter a state of deep relaxation. Your brain responds by removing undesirable chemicals and releasing endorphins, stimulating feelings of happiness and well-being. Simply put, floating in flotation tanks calm our overly stimulated systems and restores the body’s chemical and metabolic balance. Studies have shown that stress can be profoundly helped by flotation therapy, which is why the NFIFA community can benefit the most from floating. It reduces the symptoms associated with PTSD, trauma, and depression helping to prevent suicide, addictive behaviors, and anger; improving the overall wellbeing of those who float.
Stress can be correlated with increased levels of cortisol and in flotation therapy there is a natural tendency for cortisol to be reduced. For this reason, flotation therapy is one of the few noninvasive techniques available to manage stress when it is a factor in reducing a person’s ability to cope with normal life. Daily life has a way to take you away from yourself. It’s not uncommon for people to be in a state of constant stress activating the “fight-or-flight” response multiple times during the day. This can be brought on by any number of events such as traffic, inconsiderate people, or looming deadlines. Over time, such low-grade chronic stress can lead to high blood pressure, increased heart rate, and muscle tension. Visiting a flotation spa can help people counteract the toxic effects of chronic stress by slowing breathing rate, relaxing muscles, and reducing blood pressure. People often report feeling refreshed, rejuvenated, and better able to cope with life’s minor annoyances after floating. These effects can last for a few days after a float.
Research has shown that regular use of float therapy can help health problems that are caused or exacerbated by chronic stress such as fibromyalgia, insomnia, hypertension, anxiety disorders, and migraines. By invoking the relaxation response, blood flow increases to all parts and systems of the body, including the brain, creating a whole-body healing effect. Floating also provides relief from the constant downward push of gravity, the single greatest cause of wear and tear to bones, joints and body tissue. The zero-gravity effect also provides relief from discomfort during pregnancy.
Being inside a flotation tank, where sensory input is eliminated, produces a mental state where one’s learning abilities are at their highest and powers of visualization and auto-suggestion are greatly enhanced. As the float progresses, there is a transition from beta or alpha brainwaves to theta which can last indefinitely without losing consciousness. With practice one can increase the amount of time that they spend in the theta state. Many use the extended theta state as a tool for enhanced creativity and problem solving or for super learning. With the brain being held in a theta state wave-length, the mind becomes hyper-suggestible. With less distractions and greater resources at its disposal, the mind is able to absorb new material very deeply, with research showing improved performance in memory and recall activities.
Whether your eligible to be an NFIFA member or not, try flotation therapy for yourself at your local float center! Tom Brady, Steph Curry, John Lennon, Joe Rogan, Elle Macpherson, the Simpsons, and Big Bang Theory all float. You should too!
Check out this great video that interviews some military and first responders about what floating has done for them. Created by one of our local float centers called Oly Float.