anxiety

Floating and Your Mental Health

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Since 1979, float centres have popped up all over the world, helping clients with many physical as well as mental issues.

Briefly, float centres provide chambers where people float in a 28% Epsom Salt solution (with twice the bouyancy  of the Dead Sea).  The high concentration of Epsom Salts (also called Magnesium Sulfate) forces the body to float. The float chambers themselves provide clients with a safe, quiet environment, where their bodies can float weightlessly, their nervous systems get re-tuned, and their brains rest from sight, sound,  proprioception, and even their sense of touch. 

Floating provides numerous and profound benefits. (See www.ifloatfor.com for multiple firsthand accounts of floating’s many different kinds of improvements to people’s lives.)

Here are 3 ways that people use floating to help with their mental issues.

1)Reducing Depression

 

Can floating actually help with depression?  Here’s what one client had to say:

“I have suffered with depression and anxiety from Post Traumatic Stress and between floating and the Mindfulness Monday classes, it keeps me calm, peaceful, and focused throughout my week (https://ifloatfor.com/anxiety/an-incredible-positive-change-in-my-life/).”

As mentioned, when you stretch out in a float chamber, you are floating in a 28% solution of magnesium sulfate (Epsom Salts).   And for some, that magnesium has a profound impact of their depression.  In fact, the Laureate Institute of Brain Research in Tulsa, OK just received an $11 million US grant from the National Institute of Health to study the long term effects of floating on anxiety and depression.

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The link between depression and magnesium is well-known, but scientists are still unsure of all the mechanisms by which magnesium works on depression. 

A recent randomized clinical trial of magnesium chloride supplements shows a significant improvement in managing depression (https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0180067&fbclid=IwAR0O7MZDFEemSR1QHp_5F41Jb0KqO5Emhqnx62GA0ysnbtByQuemrymTjmQ).

 

2) Replacing Anxiety with Serenity

 

So many float clients need help with their anxiety.  This testimonial is indicative of what so many discover:

“This was one of the most amazing experiences of my life! You must try to be able to understand just how incredible the whole floating experience is. I suffer with generalized anxiety disorder and I can honestly say I did not have a worry in the world for the first time in I don’t even know how long (https://ifloatfor.com/anxiety/one-of-the-most-amazing-experiences-of-my-life/).

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Once again, the Laureate Brain Research Institute studied floating’s effects upon anxiety.  In the 1st float study ever conducted in patients suffering from both anxiety and depression. Dr. Justin Feinstein and colleagues showed that 1 hour of float therapy can provide significant short-term relief from symptoms of stress and anxiety, leaving patients in a peaceful and serene mental state. (https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0190292)

Here’s a summary  from LIBR’s website:  “This open-label trial from Dr. Justin Feinstein's Float Clinic and Research Center at LIBR of 50 patients provides an initial proof-of-principle study showing that 1-hour of float therapy can provide significant short-term relief from symptoms of stress and anxiety across a range of different conditions including Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Panic Disorder, Agoraphobia, Social Anxiety Disorder, and Generalized Anxiety Disorder.  

More than resolving symptoms of mental illness, the experience greatly enhanced mental wellness, leaving patients in a peaceful serene state afterwards.  This mood-enhancing effect of floatation was especially notable given that most of the patients had comorbid depression.” (http://www.laureateinstitute.org/current-events/feinstein-laboratory-publishes-float-study-in-plos-one?fbclid=IwAR2D078k8BtBOxmpiYxk2gLJUhDGzhOPXCC-L9oOxQyOGLCcQGSOL_c8AuI.)

At Flowt K-W, so many clients come to reduce their stress and to enjoy the resultant feelings of serenity.  Their time in the float chamber dials down their sympathetic nervous system, thereby relaxing their triggers for their usual flight-or-fight response. 

The effects of floating are so profound that many clients have found that floating—more than anything else, including prescription drugs—helps with their PTSD. 

 

3) Clearing Mental Fog

 

Many clients float to clear their mental fog.  Here’s an extreme example:

“I have SCA (Spinocerebeller Ataxia), it’s been described like if “ALS and Parkinson’s had a baby it’d be SCA”. Because of this my brain is very scattered or busy. Floating calms it down greatly. Since I started floating about a year ago my balance is much better when I workout and also in my day to day life” (https://ifloatfor.com/focus/calm-down-scattered-brain-spinocerebeller-ataxia/).

Unable to focus, many clients find themselves stuck with endless looping thoughts.  They can’t think clearly. They can’t escape the mindless mental chatter.

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Float chambers slow down clients’ brainwave patters to a theta-wave state.  Time in the float chamber rests their brains from sight and sound, from that sixth sense we call proprioception, and even from their sense of touch. 

In that deep theta-wave state, clients’ brains get to empty and stop and relax.  They experience a new-found clarity.  No more confusing brain clutter.

 

Give Floating a Try

 

If any of these symptoms describe you, give floating a try.   We’ve only spoken about some of the benefits to your mental health.  There are many other benefits, too, for your body and your spirit.

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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?