Floating, Mental Health, & Mental Health 1st-Aiders

What do first aiders do for their mental health?  

We've heard far too many stories of EMT's, paramedics, fire fighters, and police involved in extremely traumatic events. It's part of their job. But, all too often, it becomes part of their psyches.  Memories haunt them. These traumas often repeat themselves inside their heads and hearts and nervous systems for years, like a bad echo that keeps looping.

What to do?  Talk therapy helps some.  Others pursue vigorous exercise as an outlet.  Still others seek prescriptions to calm their chronic anxieties.  Those are a few of the ways people cope.

Many of us know of others who finally resort to far more extreme measures, including suicide. The data is very clear about that.

For some, flotation therapy has made all the difference.

We'd like to offer two dramatic stories about what floating has done for the mental health of PTSD survivors.

Anxiety, Hyper-Vigilance and Night Sweats

In 2015 TIME Magazine published a ground-breaking story on how floating became a treatment of last resort for an Australian veteran of the Afghanistan war who had PTSD. His name is Michael Harding.

Here's what TIME Magazine's reported about the soldier's experience of floating:

“To me, it seemed like a sham,” Harding says. But in March last year, he decided to try it anyway. He fell asleep in the tank, he says, and woke up an hour later feeling refreshed. By three floats, Harding says his anxiety and hyper-vigilance had subsided. By three months of floating, so had his night sweats. “After floating, I was really mellowed out,” he says. “I’m not really sure how it does it, but I do know that floating has allowed me to feel in a more confident, comfortable headspace.”

Michael Harding knew floating worked for him.  He just didn't know how.

You can read the rest of the TIME report here

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Float Therapy vs Anti-Anxiety Meds

On August 1 of 2014, TV station WKRC in Austin, Texas reported on another U.S. Army veteran with PTSD, Cody Austell.  It's an astounding story.  

Cody was on 12 different anti-anxiety meds.  He walked around like a ghost.  His friends didn't know where the real Cody--their friend--has disappeared to.  He was a shell of himself.  

Once again, float therapy came to the rescue.  Cody's first float was amazing.  Soon enough, he got off all of his meds.  He recruited 2 other vets with PTSD to try float therapy, and they, too, loved it.

You can listen to Cody's story here.

Enter Neuropsychology

Dr. Justin Feinstein is a Clinical Neuropsychologist.  He is the Director of the LIBR Float Clinic and Research Center and a Principal Investigator at the Laureate Institute for Brain Research.

Over the past year, Dr. Feinstein has been peering into the brains of people who float.  What he found is fascinating.

On August 20, 2016,  neuroscientist Dr. Justin Feinstein revealed results of a key study on floating about to be published. You can see Dr Feinstein unveil his ground-breaking research here. (We'll let you know when it's published.)

In summary, Feinstein has been using fMRI's on both a control group and a test group (of floaters) to see just what it is that floating does to reduce our anxieties. His team's research confirms that floating alters our brains to reduce stress significantly, just like anti-anxiety medicine. (But floating does not have the anti-anxiety medicine's highly addictive qualities.)

Floating can do really good things to your brain.

 

Where Do We Go From Here?

So, does floating work for everybody with severe mental health issues?  Of course not!  

Floating is not a panacea.  But neuroscience and the testimony of many show us that floating is a viable option.

Next up for Dr. Feinstein's research team:  studying the effects of floating specifically on 3 groups of patients: those with PTSD, anorexia nervosa, and high anxiety.  We can't wait to see what neuroscience finds!

If you know a front-line worker suffering the mental effects of trauma, tell them about floating. Share this blog.

 

Give me a Break!

We all have anxiety.  That's a fact.  We can't escape it.  But too many of us have anxiety too much of the time. 

The problem is that far too many of us carry such a heavy, debilitating burden of anxiety:  generalized anxiety, social anxiety, PTSD, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, burnout, etc.  

There's millions of us who are stressed out of our minds.  It's an epidemic. And it's costing us billions.

When we're over-anxious, we shut down.  We don't go to work.  We don't reach out and touch our friends and family the way we should.  

Most of us don't even get treatment, and so we lose out on so many of the opportunities that life offers us.  We've hit a wall.  So we can't take on any more tasks, relationships, opportunities, or exciting projects. 

We're desperate for some respite.  We need a break! 

NEUROSCIENCE HAS SOME GOOD NEWS 

For years, those who float have told us about the amazing ways that floating banishes their stress.  For decades, people have been shuffling out of their float rooms, smiles on their faces, barely able to articulate the depth of their relaxation response.  Words fail them.

Now, recent research has been using fMRI's to peer into the brains of those who float.  That research confirms that floating alters our brains to reduce stress significantly, just like anti-anxiety medicine. (And floating does not have the anti-anxiety medicine's highly addictive qualities.)

 On August 20, 2016,  neuro-scientist Dr. Justin Feinstein revealed results of a key study about to be published. He's the Director of the Float Clinic and Research Center (FCRC) at the Laureate Institute for Brain Research (LIBR).

You can see Dr Feinstein unveil his ground-breaking research here. (We'll let you know when it's published.)

So many people know that floating works. Now, neuroscience is beginning to show us how it works on de-stressing us!

THE GIFT THAT KEEPS ON GIVING

Floating helps keep that stress away.  It's not just that you're drunk on relaxation for a mere few hours, and then the chronic stress floods back into your life and threatens to drown you all over again.  

In 2005 Sven-Ake Bood and the Human Performance Lab at Karlstad studied the long-term relaxation effect from floating.  (See "Eliciting the Relaxation Response With the Help of Floatation REST in Patients with Stress-related Ailments", Bood et al, International Journal of Stress Management, 2006, Vol 13, No. 2, 154-175).

What was the upshot of their study?  

After floating 12 times, the test group showed substantial improvements to measures of their subjective pain, sleep quality, optimism, stress, anxiety, and depression.  That's huge! 

What’s more--and this is really worth pondering--these benefits were still maintained four months later.  If you're interested, read the study for the comparisons between the control group and the test group.   

LIFE AFTER STRESS

Pop anti-anxiety pills, and you can keep the stress away.

But floating can do so much more than fend off the chronic stress.  It can bring a new sense of well-being into your life.

Practice the art of floating and it can further enhance your quality of life. Deepen your meditation.  Spark your creativity. Enhance your mindfulness. Speed up your learning.  Manage your chronic pain.  

Do you know any pills that can do all these things? 

Floating for my Sanity. #lifeofasinglemom: My First Floats

I am SO excited to discover that the KW area FINALLY has a place to float. 

I have been driving to Toronto once a month for almost a year, just to float.  Paying $80 each time; $15 for parking, and--what!?-- $10-$15 per trip for gas!! 

Then, of course, factor in the time it takes traveling to and from TO and the stress of driving.  I honestly don't know how people drive in that city daily during rush hour, with one-way streets everywhere! 

Anyway, floating--for me--has become my little piece of heaven on earth.  It is my "me time".  I get to shut out the world and focus only on me.  As a full-time working, single 24/7 mom of two kids, this is a rarity!

My First Few Floats

I recall the first few times I floated.  I could not allow my mind to relax. 

I was worried about getting trapped in the pod. My mind wandered off to just how clean the water really was.  And then I kept wondering how long I had been in the pod, how much time had passed, and how much time was left.

I stretched my arms out to the side, then over my head, then down by my sides.  I kept worrying I wasn't doing it right. 

Looking back, it's actually quite funny.  I was stressing myself out when I was supposed to be relaxing and letting everything go.  Typical for me.

I will admit, upon exiting the pod after my first float, I licked my arm.  I expected it to be like it is after swimming in the ocean.  Just in case you are at all curious, it is not!!!

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My Third Float

It took me three floats to allow myself to completely let go, to relax and unwind and enjoy my time. 

I felt highly aware, and I could feel my body letting go of tension that I did not even realize my body had been holding onto. 

I remember the afternoon of my third float specifically, because as I walked out into the busy streets of Toronto, I looked around and smiled.  I felt well rested and completely, totally relaxed and rejuvenated.  In the car, I cranked up the tunes and enjoyed my drive home!

A Newer and Better Person

It seems each time I float, I experience myself and my body at bit more, a bit clearer.  I reach deeper levels of relaxation.  And each time I come out of the float pod happier, more aware, and generally just feeling like a newer and better person.

Our lives are so jammed packed, running here and there, balancing work and personal life, chauffeuring kids from one extra curricular activity to the next, worrying about bills, and stressing over money.

There is just so much constantly going on. 

When is the last time you really--honestly--took some time out for yourself, to unplug, to relax and to enjoy?  I use to feel guilty about floating, spending money on myself, taking time for me...Until I experienced the benefits of floating.  Even my kids felt those benefits.  A well-rested, relaxed mom makes for a happy mom. 

You are worth it!

 

7 Insane (But True) Things About Float Therapy

Our brains are super-busy.  More than we'll ever know.

I'm not just talking about our thinking and our normal 5 senses--seeing, hearing, smelling, touching, and tasting.  There's another 6th sense, called proprioception.

You don't hear about it much.  For many of us, proprioception is just a blank. 

So, what is proprioception? Proprioception is how we sense our body's position, its movement, and its acceleration.

Now, just think about that for a minute.  How much of that sensing does our brain do for us without any conscious participation?  From moment to moment, our brain is mapping where all of our body parts are in relation to each other and then coordinating all those body parts together in order to move and negotiate gravity.

There's this crazy busyness always going on.  Your brain has to do all this body-mapping all the time.

And this is where 7 insane--but wonderful--things happen to you in float therapy.

1. Zero Gravity

Float tanks do a big number in shutting down this 6th sense.

Just imagine, you slip into your float chamber, and this hyper-buoyant water keeps you afloat.  Stretched out in the warm silky water, the Epsom Salt keeps your body floating of its own accord.

You've just relieved your body from gravitational pressure on your joints, tendons, ligaments, bones, and muscles.  That's a lot of work your brain no longer has to negotiate.

Now, your brain is being denied so much of the work that it normally has to do.  No gravity to worry about, no proprioceptive work.

2. Pay Attention to the details!

Relieved of its normal duties, your brain latches onto smaller, more minute sensations. 

You're on your back, and there's this wonderful counter-gravity pressure completely supporting your feet, legs, hands, arms, and spine.  Your brain no longer has to help your bones and muscles strain against gravity.

What a relief for both your brain and your body!

So, your brain zeroes in on much smaller sensations throughout your body, intensifying what you can sense:  your fluttering eyelids, residual knots of tension at distinct spots in your body. There's lots going on in your body that you never felt before.

You're noticing muscle tensions you didn't know existed.

3. You Just Relax

Soon enough, those knots and muscle tensions can start to melt.

As the water underneath you buoys you up, you can feel your spine stretch in ways it can't when you are standing up and walking around, constantly defying gravity.

Your brain and your floating body can work in tandem now.  Together, they are conspiring to make you relax in ways that cause many to feel rubbery when they step out of their float chamber.

If fact, some of you will relax so much that after your float, you will need some time in the lounge to adjust to normal sitting and standing.

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Dominoes

From there on, the rest of the fallout from floating's zero-gravity is like dominoes.  Believe it or not, here are the remaining four of those seven things that float therapy does for you:

4.  With the relaxation, your heart can operate more efficiently and more effortlessly;

5. With the counter-pressure of the water upholding you and stretching you out on its surface, your blood circulates more freely;

6. Your blood pressure drops; and

7. Your pulse rate slows.

 

Show me the Guarantee!

When you slide into your float chamber, you are guaranteed to float.  850 llbs of Epsom Salt dissolved in 200 gallons of water is bound to do that.

And your proprioceptive sense is guaranteed to shut down more than anywhere else on this earth.

Also, it's a guarantee that some people just don't seem to experience as many benefits from floating therapy's zero-gravity as others do.

But there are just far too many testimonials and research accounts from those who have found relief from chronic pain by floating. Whether it's people with bursitis, arthritis, tendonitis, or muscle strain, float therapy's zero gravity has truly benefited them.

So, go find a float centre, and give your brain and body a rest.  Surrender to the zero-gravity of your float chamber and experience first-hand what happens when your brain and body finally take a rest from proprioception.

 

How to Cheat at Float Therapy and Get Away With it

How to Cheat at Float Therapy and Get Away With it

Now that you've done everything your host told you to do, it's time to climb into your float chamber, lie on your back, and ready yourself for a great 90 minutes of floating.

If you are a floating novice, here's the secret to good results even on your very first float.

13 Ways Float Therapy Could Help the Blue Jays Win the World Series

"Toronto Blue Jays home opener, 2010" by Blue JaysFan32

I have to admit it. I have Blue Jay fever.

After watching the Blue Jays win Game 4 last night, I fell asleep relieved we were going to Game 5.  However, as I rested my head on my pillow, I was still anxious about the upcoming game. 

I don't remember anything after that.  I must have slipped out of consciousness.

The Dream

The next thing that happened to me was The Dream.

It began with me behind the Blue Jay's dugout, all of us fans screaming, shouting, stomping, going crazy.  I was yelling myself hoarse.

Suddenly--as can only happen in a dream--I was transported into the Blue Jays' locker room.  I could hear the ruckus above in the stadium, but I had the entire locker room to myself.

Weird.

Just then, a lone trainer appeared, pressed a button on the far wall of the locker room, and a huge door slid open.  I couldn't believe what I saw!!  My jaw dropped. 

 

The Blue Room

There was a secret cavernous room lit in a soft blue light that came from everywhere and nowhere.  At first, I couldn't make out anything.

Gradually,  I saw I was standing in front of 50 float tanks arranged in 5 neat rows.  In the dark, I could barely make out the numbers stencilled onto the doors of each float tank.  I spotted a few of my favourite numbers: 6, 19, 20, 43, 54, and 55.

Then I realized what I was looking at.  Each Blue Jay had their own dedicated float tank hidden in a secret room.

The List

In my dream, I finally stepped into the soft light of the secret blue room, and the huge door slid shut behind me. 

It was dead quiet inside.  I no longer could hear the crowds in the stadium.

That's when I noticed that on top of each gleaming white float tank, there was a large clipboard, and on each clipboard there were identical checklists.

I stepped up to the tank with a big #6 stencilled on it and reached for the clipboard.  The checklist was divided into 2 parts.

Checklist Part 1:  Before the Game

I read Part 1, entitled "Before the Game".

Here's what it said:  "Before you step into your float tank, aim for the following":

  1. Reduce your jet lag
  2. Locate your deep tissue injuries while floating
  3. As you float, identify any imbalanced muscle tension
  4. Release your stress
  5. Eliminate noisy thoughts for better focus and concentration
  6. Visualize key movements
  7. Do not leave the tank until you have achieved mental clarity
  8. Leave relaxed, go home, and sleep well.

I looked around the room.  I couldn't find the trainer who had originally opened the door to this secret Blue Room, so I kept on reading the checklist.

Checklist Part 2:  After the Game

Part 2 of the checklist began with these words:  "After your post-game float, check off which benefits especially applied to you after today's game":

Here's the list of benefits I read in my dream:

  1. Release of lactic acid
  2. Better flow of lymphatic fluids
  3. Relief of pain
  4. Reduced fatigue
  5. Accelerated recovery from injuries
  6. Boosted levels of energy
  7. Relaxed muscles

I saw checkmarks beside every one of these.  No wonder these guys looked so good!

Just then, in my dream, I heard a loud noise behind me as the huge door to the Blue Room slid open! I had been found out!!

As it turned out, my dog was scratching at our bedroom door and woke me up.

The secret and silent Blue Room, the numbered float tanks, the clipboards and checklists all turned out to be only a dream.

But the 13 benefits to float therapy are not a dream.

Your Checklist

Make your own checklist of how float therapy helps you.

To explore more of how floating can benefit you, click here.

 

 

 

 

The 7 Simplest Ways to Make the Best of Floating

How does the thought of floating make you feel?  Jittery? Excited?  Maybe you're both nervous and feeling an adrenaline rush at the same time.

Well, if you've never floated before, or even if you've floated once or twice, here are some simple ways to enhance your time floating and to make each floating experience better than the last.

Hear Ye, Hear Ye

Before you float, someone will walk you through your floating preparation. Listen to the orientation that your float centre provides. 

Listen carefully, because your float centre host will cover quite a few points in a short time.  They will probably cover these 3 topics:  1) how to prepare yourself just before you float; 2) how to get into and lie down in your float chamber; and 3) what do to right after you get out of your float chamber.

That's a lot to remember.  So, I'll let you cheat.  Here's a rundown on what to do immediately before and after you float.

And here are some pointers on what to do and NOT to do once you're inside your float chamber.

Pull Out Your Map

Before we take a road trip, we usually plan a route.  If nothing else, we take the GPS or Google Maps with us, so we know just where we're going and how we're going to get there.

It's the same with floating.  Before you float, you should acquaint yourself with some of the major benefits of floating.  That way, you know what you will want to happen inside your float chamber. 

For example, did you know that float chambers are one of the best places ever to visualize and see something in your mind's eye?  That's why lots of elite athletes float to visualize a new move or skill.  Or students float to practice seeing the answers to their exam questions. Or business professionals visualize themselves giving a major presentation.

Visualizing is just one of at least a dozen things that floating can really do for you.  So, doesn't it make sense to pull out a map of all the major benefits to floating and to figure out which benefits you want to explore?

Plan Your Floating Experiment

Was there one benefit of floating that especially captured your attention?  Did you see a way floating might help you improve some part of your life?

Maybe you're really stressed at work and/or at home.  Acknowledge it.

Maybe you've got some pain that won't go away, or a nagging injury. Acknowledge it.

Maybe you're need to inject some creativity into your current work project or your latest art project.  Acknowledge it.

It helps to drive or ride to your float centre with an idea of what floating might do for you.  Be bold. Tell yourself you are going to conduct a floating experiment. Tell yourself it's part of your self-development program.

Go With the Flow

To everything there is a time and a season.  There's a time to remember what you've read about floating and what you've heard your float center host say in your orientation.

And there's a time to forget.

Once you step into your float chamber and close the door and start your float, it's time to forget.  You're floating in a comfortable quiet position.  So, forget about everything else now.

Just go with the flow.  Let the float happen.  Put away the words. Let the experience unfold.

There is nothing more to do than just pay attention from moment to moment to moment.

Enjoy the After-Glow

Once the music comes through the water, signalling the end of your 90-minute float, a surprise awaits you.

You'll step out of your float chamber, and no matter what else has happened to you in the last 90-minutes, you will most likely notice 3 things in your few steps from the tank to the shower:

  1. You are really, really relaxed.  The last thing you want is to rush.
  2. Every part of you is in slow-mode. 
  3. You will open your eyes to an intensely vivid world that delights your senses.  You see and hear in a newly vibrant way. 

Both you and the world feel new. 

That's why float centres have post-float lounges.  You are not ready to rush out into that big, loud jarring world yet.  So, seat yourself and savour not only your tea or water but your post-float glow, too.

Do Your Homework

Remember your mother reminding you to do your homework after school?

Well, somewhere between 2 and 14 days after your float, your post-float glow is going to wear off. As it subsides, there's one simple piece of homework to do.

Ask yourself, "What benefits did I get from my last float?"  In other words, "Did my floating experiment work?"

For example maybe you wanted to see if floating helped you with that really painful fall you had.  And maybe you've noticed an improvement.

Maybe you unintentionally plunged into a meditative state that went deeper than anything that happened to you in all your years of meditative striving.  Now, you want to explore that meditative state further.

Maybe it's the deep relaxation that especially surprised you, and you find yourself able to think more clearly about a problem that used to tie you up in knots.

If you've noticed any such improvement(s), be sure to note that improvement.  You might even want to go so far as to note that improvement in a personal log or a journal.

After that, you're ready to assign yourself a new floating experiment for your next float.

Float Again

There's a reason most float centres offer multi-float packages.

So many of us have issues that are a little more chronic than we realize.  It only makes sense that it takes more than one float session to learn to really let go.

You cannot experience the full potential of floating in one float.  Not nearly.

So, to get the most out of floating, get back into that chamber, and remember these 7 ways to make floating the best it can be. 

Your first float is just the beginning of an incredible new way to develop yourself, expand your potential and discover new dimensions to your wellness.

It Did What? 8 Secrets About Why I Love Floating

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Step into a float chamber, and you step into a different world you never knew existed.  It's a world that has its own secrets.

But those secrets need to be shared.  No, they need to be shouted, because they're too good to keep to yourself.

Let me share a few of mine.

Hello Body

For starters, I love the way floating introduces you to your body in a whole new way.

You find yourself floating with no effort.  No kicking your feet, no frantic fluttering of your hands, no fighting gravity to keep your head up.  Just effortless floating as the water buoys you up in near zero gravity. That's the 900 lbs of epsom salt working.  That's a special feeling you can't get anywhere else.

You can feel your back stretch and decompress. The water feels like it's pushing at your back and stretching it out.  Ahhhhh.  I understand why pregnant women love to float for relief from the extra weight of their baby.

Wait just a few minutes, get into a comfortable position, and keep still, and a new secret opens up.  The tension in your muscles just melts away.  It's that epsom salt again. Composed of magnesium sulfate, your skin readily absorbs both of these chemicals, triggering muscle relaxation. See Epsom Salt Uses & Benefits

If you keep very still, there's one more surprise for you, as you float in your chamber.  You don't really know if you're floating in water anymore, because you can't tell where your skin ends and the water or air begins. For all you know, you might be floating in outer space.

Hello Brain

Once you've settled into your float, your brain shares a few secrets of its own with you too.

You've tried to see your hand in front of your face, but even at an inch away, it's too dark.  You can only hear your own breathing, nothing else.  Then you suddenly realize your brain craves sensory stimuli, but it can't get any while you are silently floating, without sight or sound or touch.

So, your brain goes on alert, and your senses sharpen.

You really notice that once you finish your float. After your float, colours are more vibrant. Your hearing is sharper. Your entire sensory apparatus becomes far more alive.

But your brain supplies its own colourful scenery inside your float chamber, too.  About halfway through your float, you can see things in your mind's eye with brilliant clarity. You can mentally visualize with more intensity in a float tank than anywhere else that I know.

FTA states, “Carl Lewis, said to be the world’s greatest athlete, used in-tank visualization techniques to prepare himself for his gold medal long jump at the 1988 Seoul Olympics: the Dallas Cowboys, winners of the 1993 Superbowl, have been using float tanks since 1981 to develop the physical and psychological skills of their players; the AIS (Australian Institute of Sport) has been using tanks to train their successful Olympic squads since 1983. In the words of Jeff Bond of the AIS: “The floatation tank represents a new dimension in sports training for the elite athlete”.
— ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-804100

 

Goodbye Time

In the silence of your float chamber, you learn that your brain loves to chatter.  It yaps at you for about 20 minutes.  But then something weird and wonderful happens.  Your brain quiets and time disappears.

Once you hear the music at the end of your float session, it's hard to figure out where time went. It can even be hard to figure out where you went.

Maybe that's the biggest secret of all.

So, those are just a few of the wonderful secrets about why I love floating. They're secrets for you to find out and experience for yourself.

Have you experienced anything like what I've described? If you have, then you know there are more great things that floating does to and for you. If you haven't experienced floating, why not check out our Benefits page for even more of floating's wonderful secrets.