Stress has long been expressed as a weight we carry around with us. It sits on our shoulders and weighs us down during the day, making us slow, lethargic, and a shell of ourselves.
We can feel stress both mentally and physically, and its effects on our bodies can last well after whatever is causing the stress has been removed from the picture.
Mental and physical stress can be the result of addition; new worries or anxieties that appear in our life, or the physical pressures that we exert on our joints and muscles.
But now, a wellness trend is re-emerging and making a comeback in spas across America to help your body fight against the weight of stress: floatation therapy.
Floatation therapy–also known as Sensory Deprivation therapy–uses your own senses to relieve chronic pain, boost your mood, and clear your mind of stress and anxiety.
Float therapy has been shown to have a number of positive medical benefits, such as a boost in endorphins, stress relief, joint pain relief and a drop in cortisol levels, also known as the stress hormone.
Should you try this fast-growing trend in wellness? Read on to find out more about floatation therapy.
What is floatation therapy?
Have you ever laid back in a warm pool on a sunny day? The water is close to your body temperature, you close your eyes tight so the sun doesn’t blind you, and you feel at ease. Sensory deprivation tank therapy–or floating–is a concept that builds off this feeling.
Designed by neuroscientist John C. Lilly in the 1950s, it is a practice in which one is placed into a soundproof, lightproof bath of salt water and allowed to float.
It has been around for nearly 70 years and been proven to “induce deep relaxation and positive health effects,” according to a study published by The BMC-series journals.
Scientists have long been interested in the effect of float therapy on the mind and body. Visualizations of this interest even made their way into pop culture, such as in Netflix’s Stranger Things where scientists try to unlock hidden superpowers in children using these tanks.
Float therapy offers several benefits, including lowering blood pressure, stress, anxiety, and depression, as well as alleviating chronic muscle and joint pain.
In 1983, scientists proved float therapy resulted in a significant reduction in the stress hormone cortisol. Furthermore, in 2006, scientists found that after a dozen half-hour sessions, the resulting drop in stress and anxiety can last for up to four months following treatment.
How does floatation therapy work?
Floatation therapy deprives a patient of their senses in order to ease them into a meditative and relaxed state. Using magnesium sulfate, float tanks are filled with water that is denser than normal, allowing anyone to float comfortably without worrying about slipping under the water.
During a 30-minute float session, patients are told to allow their mind to go blank to allow for the full effect of the therapy. Once in the tub, floating slows your heart rate and triggers the release of theta brain waves. These special brain waves release endorphins, counter anxiety and depression, and relieve fatigue.
“When you come out you just feel lighter, your stress levels are lower, and basically your pleasure center is activated, so you just come out of the tank and feel wonderful,” says Gina Antioco, co-owner of Lift in Huntington, New York, a spa that specializes in float therapy. These benefits carry over post-float, with users reporting feeling refreshed, well rested, and rejuvenated days after their sessions.
Why should I try it?
Well…. why not? Floatation therapy is an affordable solution to stress, anxiety, and pain. And thanks to the re-emergence of floatation therapy within American spas, you don’t need to buy your own floatation tanks to reap the benefits.
While prices may vary depending on the facility, location and duration of a float session, you can try float therapy for anywhere from $45 to $200. Look for coupons and first-time customer deals to take advantage of a float session at a fraction of the price.
Although these tanks may not unlock powers you see on the pages of a comic book, they do unlock the superpowers of your own body; by reaching a meditative state within the tank, your mind reduces depression, anxiety, and stress.
This deep sense of relaxation allows your body to heal, potentially reducing recovery times of injuries, or clearing old injuries up entirely.
If all these great mental and physical benefits are not swaying you, float tanks have one more benefit you might love; the magnesium sulfate is also good for your skin.