Flotation therapy is a type of sensory deprivation treatment that allows you to remove all sensory experiences while you relax and float peacefully. For many people, including those suffering with debilitating anxiety or PTSD, floating can be life changing. Flotation therapy involves being in either a flotation tank or a float pod which is protected from external light and sound. The tank is filled with body temperature water which has absorbed Epsom salts which allow you to remain buoyant with no effort required. This immersive experience allows you to drift into a meditative state and can positively improve both your physical and mental health in tremendous ways.
Mental Health Benefits
Reduces Anxiety and Depression
Along with physical health benefits, flotation therapy can help improve our emotional health too. It allows you to escape the chaos of the modern world and encourages you to focus within. This practice encourages a sense of well being and will increase the feelings of relaxation and calm. Studies have shown that those who introduced flotation therapy into their lives saw reductions in levels of stress, anxiety, depression along with improvements in sleep quality and overall mood.
The preferred state of calm within the body is known as the “rest and digest” state which is controlled by our parasympathetic nervous system and is activated during a flotation session. Once the body has been able to rest, heal and rejuvenate it will even encourage the uptake of positive endorphins such as serotonin which help to boost our mood and promotes relaxation and calm within.
Although flotation is not a complete replacement for natural sleep, a 90 minute floating session is thought to mirror the same positive health benefits as 8 hours of natural sleep. Individuals who use flotation therapy regularly report feeling more refreshed and find themselves more energised and in line with their natural circadian rhythm which controls your sleep-wake cycle.
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Stimulates L&R Brain Synchronization
During a flotation session the two opposing hemispheres of the brain are able to work in unison which is understood to be the greatest achievement of the human psyche and brain. The logical and creative sides of the brain are able to work in synchrony allowing powerful, new pathways to be mapped. This growth helps to expand awareness and creativity.
Helps Improve Focus
Flotation therapy is also linked with improvements in mental clarity and clearer visualizations. While you are relaxing in the flotation tank, you can enter a theta sate wave length which results in improved mental clarity. During this theta wave length state your mind is less likely to wander due to distraction and your rate of learning and focus is greatly improved. The act of floating within a sensory deprivation tanks puts your body into a meditative state of deep mental relaxation.
Physical Health Benefits:
Aids Magnesium Absorption
The Epsom salts used within the flotation tank are made from magnesium sulphate which is the second most abundant element within the human body and is essential for maintaining a healthy balance. The magnesium sulphate within the water is then absorbed through the skin transdermally through soaking. It comes with huge health benefits as the magnesium in the water activates muscles and nerves, relieves pain, aids digestion and increases energy levels along with helping to regulate calcium, potassium and sodium levels within the blood.
Improves Hair and Skin Health
By using flotation therapy you can improve both your hair and skin health due to the high concentrations of magnesium within the water. Magnesium is known for providing excellent antimicrobial protection which helps to reduce levels of harmful bacteria in the environment. This protection is closely linked with improvements in skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis. In addition to helping skin health, the magnesium saturated salts also remove excess product build up from our hair meaning you can utilise this as an organic way to return your hair to its natural condition which in turn will help thickness and overall volume - all without the need for chemical filled styling products.
Enhances Physical Performance
Growing numbers of athletes now use flotation therapy for its ability to reduce the levels of lactic acid within the body, in particular within the muscles. This means that recovery times after a long workout are greatly reduced along with offering excellent relief of muscle stiffness and muscle pain post workout. The combination of these benefits contribute to preventing sports injuries but also promote muscle healing on the occasions where it is needed.
Improves Circulation and Immune System
While you are floating in the tank your body is relieved of all pressure points due to the elimination of all ground contact points. This horizontal position and reduction in gravity allows the blood vessels to dilate and increase blood flow around the body which results in reductions in blood pressure, heart rate and gives a great boost to the entire circulatory system. This boost allows optimal oxygen levels to circulate within red blood cells which in turn aids circulation and will promote a healthy immune system.
This type of healing therapy offers relief to a multitude of different sources of pain all while effortlessly floating. The reduction in gravity within the tanks helps to relieve muscle and joint pressure being put onto the body and due to the sensory deprivation elements it welcomes a meditative state which in turn will improve sleep and reduce chronic stress and stress related illnesses.
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Decreases Cortisol and Adrenaline
Chronic stress means that there is often an abundance of the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline circulating the body. High levels of these can lead to headaches, brain fog, fatigue and increase adrenaline levels as your body is in a state of “fight or flight”. Fortunately, flotation therapy helps to reduce these hormones and it actually works to minimise ongoing cortisol production and adrenaline levels by allowing the body to remain in a state of harmony.
It is clear to see that the abundance of benefits noted in this article all prove that floatation therapy is an excellent way to prevent and treat many emotional and physical ailments through sensory deprivation, all without the need for any medical or pharmaceutical interventions.
Where to Float?
If in the Boston area, we recommend FLOAT Boston. If you're a snow bird like BOL founder, Mike Coughlin, check out Float8 with locations in Fort Lauderdale and Deerfield Beach in Southern Florida. For those on the West Coast, check out PAUSE in the Los Angeles area.
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About the Contributor
Lauren Williams is a sailor, nurse, and writer enjoying a simple life onboard a sail boat. She’s passionate about health, wellness and the ocean. She will be documenting every step of her journey on her Instagram page as she explores and looks to harness the healing power of the ocean.
(Disclaimer: please note that I nor the Blue Ocean Life Company are licensed medical professionals and for any guidance regarding medication and your health care, please consult with your doctor.)