We all know that exercise, healthy eating, and sleep are foundations for a happy and healthy lifestyle. These are the basics—the non-negotiables—in self-care.
As we go about each day, we accumulate mental clutter and physical trauma that threaten to compromise our health that we work so hard at maintaining. Most of the population is walking around with some sort of mental or physical condition, be it anxiety, depression, insomnia, pain, or chronic disease.
Luckily, there are ways to clear mental stress and relieve physical stress so that we’re free to focus on health maintenance instead of disease treatment.
Flotation therapy, also called float therapy or isolation therapy, can help to speed up physical and mental healing in the body by providing a truly restful experience. Even athletes such as Steph Curry and Tom Brady swear by flotation tanks to speed healing in their overexerted bodies.
What is Flotation Therapy?
During a flotation therapy session, you float in a tank that is filled halfway with water saturated with Epsom salts. The tank is lightproof and mostly soundproof (you wear earplugs), and your body is suspended in body temperature water. The temperature of the air in the tank is the same as the water, and once you’re in it, it’s hard to tell where the air, water, and your body begin and end.
The experience of sensory deprivation may be unnerving or overwhelming to first-timers who are not used to being in total darkness and silence and are certainly not used to defying gravity.
But for people who are looking for a way to completely detach and experience total relaxation, this unique form of hydrotherapy may just be the ticket.
Flotation Therapy Benefits
Whether you’re looking to relieve anxiety or heal sore muscles, there are many ways in which you can benefit from regular float therapy sessions. These are just a few of them.
1. Relieves Anxiety
According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIH), 31.1 percent of US adults experience anxiety disorders at some time in their lives. (1)
Those are just the reported cases, and they’re only the severe ones. Every single person in the world experiences stress. For some people, stress levels may be so high that they begin to take on a life of their own.
Anxiety can affect your weight, sleep quality, focus and attention, and general quality of life. Anxiety disorders are some of the most difficult mental disorders to cope with because they impact every single aspect of your life.
Float tanks can help to relieve anxiety and stress because they take away all stimulants, allowing you to experience a deep sense of relaxation. In a float tank, there are no work emails, no social media notifications, no phone calls, and no noises at all.
A 2016 study that emerged from Sweden’s Karlstad University found promising results using flotation therapy to treat anxiety for a period of four months. Thirty-seven percent of the treatment group reached full remission after the four months, and most people reported improvement in sleep, emotional regulation, and depression symptoms. (2)
2. Improves Quality of Sleep
People who suffer from sleep conditions such as insomnia and sleep apnea can benefit from a regular dip in the flotation tank.
Sleep deprivation can seriously compromise your quality of life. Those who lack sleep are more likely to gain weight and are at greater risk for chronic conditions such as hypertension, heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.
Flotation therapy can help to improve quality of sleep by easing the body and mind and allowing for a “clean slate” so that you can relax and get into bed worry-free. That way, you can fall asleep quickly and experience a much deeper sleep than you would have otherwise.
3. Heals Aching Muscles
Epsom salt, scientifically referred to as magnesium sulfate, has been used for centuries to heal all kinds of muscular aches and pains.
Magnesium is an essential trace mineral, and it’s needed for over 300 biochemical reactions in the body. One of them is regulation of normal nerve and muscle function. Some of the most common symptoms of low magnesium intake include muscle cramps and spasms, facial tics, poor sleep, and chronic pain. (3)
Flotation tanks are loaded with Epsom salts—enough so that a person of any weight and size can float in the water. This magnesium-rich water infuses your skin and muscles with magnesium, relaxing your muscles and reducing pain, cramps, and spasms.
4. Pain Relief
People with painful chronic conditions such as fibromyalgia, arthritis, back pain, migraines, and more can benefit greatly from flotation therapy.
First, in a flotation tank, the body is stripped of all physical barriers, stimulants, and triggers that may exacerbate pain. There are no clothes, there is no gravity, and there are no noises or lights that may trigger migraines or headaches.
The magnesium in the water acts as a pain reliever in the body. As mentioned before, it plays an important role in nerve and muscle function, so regular Epsom salt baths or flotation tank sessions can greatly improve symptoms of chronic pain conditions.
In addition, chronic inflammatory conditions get worse during times of stress. Flare-ups are often triggered by stressful situations or sleep deprivation. Since flotation therapy reduces stress and improves sleep quality, it can have a beneficial impact on people with chronic conditions like fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome.
5. Improves Skin Health
The Epsom salt added to the water changes the water quality, making it silky. Also, magnesium sulfate acts as a natural exfoliator on the skin, removing dead skin cells, unclogging pores, and revealing healthy skin underneath.
Epsom salt also acts as a natural disinfectant, so it lowers the risk of infection in cuts and lacerations. People with chronic inflammatory skin conditions, like eczema and rosacea, can also benefit from the effects of magnesium sulfate.
Float therapy may be one of the most relaxing experiences out there. Some people may find it unnerving at first, but experts recommend trying it at least three times before throwing in the towel. After the novelty wears off, the relaxation kicks in, and your body and mind can benefit in many different ways.
Find a facility near you that offers flotation therapy, and enjoy—possibly for the first time in your life—really taking a load off.