The 21st century is arguably the most stressful epoch in human history. Modern-day men and women are expected to live up to high expectations in every aspect of their lives. Whether it’s fulfilling career goals, running a successful business, raising a family or aspiring to spiritual attainment.
Everything has become a competition for success and we’re all fighting our way to the top. All of this can and does take a toll on one’s mental and physical health and can lead to seemingly insurmountable levels of stress and anxiety.
Luckily, there’s a silver lining at the end of this cloud. As part of the growing “self-love” movement, floatation tanks have been touted as a highly effective method to effortlessly getting rid of stress and anxiety.
So, we decided to do some research on the topic to see if float tank therapy is really all it’s cracked up to be.
About Float Tanks
Floatation therapy involves going into a pitch dark and soundproof room that’s filled with Epsom salt water at skin temperature. If you’re a fan of taking long baths for relaxation, you’ll know that Epsom Salt contains magnesium. This is an essential mineral that contributes to maintaining bone structure, improving blood circulation, heart health and nerve function while flushing out toxins from the body. Not only that, but Epsom salt is essential to creating the experience of buoyancy in the float tank.
Of course, floatation therapy is different from taking a regular Epsom salt bath at your house because the water temperature is heated to match your body temperature. And you’re plunged into complete darkness where all of your senses are completely shut off so you can enjoy total relaxation.
This experience is so immersive that it doesn’t even feel like your body is “floating” in the traditional sense of the word. Instead, all you can hear is the sound of your own breathing and heartbeat, devoid of all other senses and the various distractions of daily life.
Float Tanks and Stress Relief
Floatation tanks were initially invented in the 1950s by Dr. John C Lilly, a neurophysiologist and researcher for the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Dr. Lilly’s intention was to study the mind/body connection and its relation to the origins of consciousness using sensory deprivation therapy. Floatation tanks allowed him and his subjects to completely shut off the external world and immerse themselves in the vastly unexplored inner world of consciousness.
During this process, Dr. Lilly and his participants discovered that floatation therapy has a myriad of other health effects, like reducing stress and anxiety. The medical establishment noticed his work and further studies were conducted to validate his claims.
For instance, a 1997 study featuring 1, 000 participants found that over 90% of the contestants came out of the float tank feeling completely relaxed as though they had just taken a month-long vacation.
Plus, according to floatation therapy experts, the buoyancy created by the Epsom salts allows you to completely let go and relax. This opens up your inner world and allows you to process your thoughts and feelings with better clarity and understanding. It’s a truly transformative experience that can be channeled to change stressful thoughts and patterns into positive beliefs and strategies.
Why Does Floatation Therapy Work?
The reason why floatation therapy is so successful at relieving stress and anxiety is because it liberates the brain from processing external stimuli. Instead, you can focus on enhancing cognitive function and tapping into your inner creativity.
There’s an interesting study which shows that an hour of float tank therapy is enough to activate and improve the visual cortex, a region of the brain that’s responsible for processing information. Another study indicates that floatation therapy can bring about a deeply restful state that can boost memory and improve one’s ability to learn new skills in a short time frame.
Data from a study with 40 college students shows a strong correlation between sensory deprivation and improved creativity and cognitive function. Again, only an hour of floatation therapy is required to experience these results.
All told, floatation therapy has been shown, time and again, to relieve stress and anxiety, reduce brain fog, headaches and even hypertension. It’s a truly comprehensive therapy that should be a part of your self-care routine.