What do complete silence, total darkness, and 8,000 pounds of Epsom salt have in common? They’re all part of your new strategy for reducing anxiety without prescription drugs.
In the rest of this article, we’re going to discuss why flotation therapy can be a rejuvenating and effective treatment for anxiety.
What Is Flotation Therapy?
Flotation therapy sessions typically last an hour, but some practitioners prefer to stay in the tank for up to two hours. Float tanks are just large enough to comfortably float in on your back with your arms at your sides.
Most have a low ceiling that you can reach with your hands while floating. Roughly 8,000-10,000 pounds of Epsom salt are dissolved in three feet of water, allowing you to float effortlessly.
The temperature of the water should match the temperature of your skin, so that it’s impossible to tell where the water line ends and your skin begins.
The tank seals out all light, and ear earplugs are worn to block out noise. The end result is an ideal meditation environment.
Flotation Therapy In Popular Culture
If you’ve ever seen the hit series Stranger Things on Netflix, then you’ve at least loosely heard of flotation therapy. The show tells the story of a “gifted” young girl that escapes from a government research facility. She has psychic powers that were developed through experimentation in a sensory deprivation tank.
Today, sensory deprivation therapy is referred to as flotation therapy or REST (restorative environmental stimulation therapy) in scientific circles.
Early Research Into Sensory Deprivation
When experiments began in 1954, they were paired with the use of a new compound call lysergic acid diethylamide, or LSD for short. The research was headed by neuropsychiatrist John C. Lilly as part of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Test subjects experienced profound revelations, to say the least.
Even without the use of LSD, individuals reported leaving the tank with an incredible sense of calm. One early participant was a college student who was prone to severe social anxiety.
After just an hour in the tank, he emerged to find that his anxiety had completely subsided. Usually nervous in front of groups, he immediately launched into a 30-minute-long description of his experience to a gathering of students and professors. He couldn’t believe how relaxed he felt.
Modern-Day Flotation Therapy Research
Research into flotation therapy dwindled over the next several decades, but flotation therapy has recently seen a dramatic increase in research and public interest. In one recent study, 64 participants with GAD (generalized anxiety disorder) were separated into either a control group waiting list or the experimental flotation group.
Those in the experimental group floated twice a week for a seven-week period. 37% of participants in the experimental group experienced a complete remission of anxiety symptoms.
“Stress, depression, anxiety, and worst pain were significantly decreased whereas optimism and sleep quality significantly increased for the flotation-REST group.”
Flotation therapy clinics have since popped up in nearly every major city across the U.S. and in several locations internationally since the early 2000s. The results are in. Flotation therapy works for reducing anxiety.
Professional Athletes Use Flotation Therapy To Get In The Zone
Part of flotation therapy’s ability to lower anxiety comes from its cortisol-reducing and inflammation-lowering effects. Flotation therapy also helps speed injury recovery by optimizing inflammation response.
Steph Curry of the Golden State Warriors tries to float at least once every two weeks during the NBA season. He uses it to reduce joint inflammation and help visualize his success on the court.
New England Patriots quarterback, Tom Brady, floats to calm his mind and center his thoughts in preparation for big games.
Jade Johnson, an Olympic long jumper, also floats regularly, as do several members of the Seattle Sounders soccer team.
“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.” – Lao Tzu
An Inspiring Flotation Therapy Transformation
Some folks credit flotation therapy for saving their lives. Take the story of Australian military veteran Michael Harding. Michael was discharged from service in 2015 with severe PTSD at the age of 23.
According to his wife, Michael couldn’t even hold a spoon to his mouth without it shaking violently, and was plagued by night terrors. He was on four different prescription drugs and went to several types of counseling, but nothing was helping.
Then, Michael’s wife stumbled upon flotation therapy while searching for natural anxiety remedies on the internet. They discovered that a float center was located just an hour from where they lived.
After just three, one-hour float sessions, Michael’s anxiety had subsided significantly. After three months of weekly float sessions, Michael was able to eliminate his night terrors and ditch his medications.
The modern world is over-stimulating, and many people have a hyperactive stress response as a result. When you over-produce stress hormones like cortisol, other critical hormones can get thrown out of balance. This can lead to negative implications from digestive issues to mental health.
Flotation therapy can treat anxiety and reduce stress by lowering blood cortisol, balancing hormone levels, calming the nervous system, normalizing metabolism, slowing respiration, and decreasing heart rate. All with zero risk of side effects!