flotation therapy

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.

 

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.