Let’s preface this—I am not what you would call a relaxer. That commercial with the two Coronas sitting idle in the sand, and a couple hammocks staring out at the water? Not my thing. No, I cannot just sit down in front of Netflix and watch a show or a movie; I need to have a project to work on. I cannot go out of town on a vacation (where you’re supposed to relax, right?) until I have cleaned my entire house. Sure, I can wind down with some brunch cocktails, or sweat out my tension at the gym, but I am a lady who likes to get. stuff. done.
I am told float therapy is one of the best ways to relax. So here I am. About to embark on a 90-minute float. Let’s think about that for a second: 90 minutes, you guys. That’s an hour and a half.
OMG, do you know how much stuff I can get done in an hour and a half? As a catharsis to my overactive brain, I jotted down a list.
Other things I could be doing in 90 minutes:
- Hop a plane and be in Chicago.
- Hop a plane and be in Denver.
- Watch 2 or 3 episodes of The Office.
- Run 10 miles. (If my cardio was that ideal.)
- Take a long lunch to catch up with a friend.
- Cook a 10 lb turkey. A WHOLE TURKEY. (Yeah, I found a recipe. Right here.)
- Finish a book that’s been gathering dust on my shelf.
- Finish a podcast that’s been gathering dust in my phone.
- See that new horror movie that just came out, where I usually bring my own snacks. Because nothing is better than sitting by yourself in a theater, with your own favorite snacks to NOT share with the people around you.
…I could also spend 90 minutes working on my cynicism.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not a tense person by any means. I know my chill. However, I am very aware of the presence of time, and how I spend it. A full 90 minutes sitting around in a tank of water seemed like a really long bath, and maybe not a new, great method to calm the mind, or at least my overactive mind.
So at the end of a typical work day, I drive to my float appointment and get the rundown on what I'm getting myself into. Each individual float has its own room, with a private shower. You are able to wear a swimsuit or float in the nude, depending on your comfort level, and they provide soap, shampoo, towels and any other essentials you need to shower after your float.
Image: Float Center, Omaha
The float itself looks a bit like a personal spaceship. I'm still a skeptic, but eager to try out something new.
...And it turns out, floating really is some sort of magic time machine... spaceship... thing.
Ok maybe not literally. But as I bobbed around in this crazy sea salt bath, I felt myself lose track of how long I’d been there. Had it been 10 minutes? Thirty? All the years of my late twenties? Who knows. But I was totally okay with it.
A 90-minute float session allows you enough time to relax into the theta brain wave state, which means your brain enters a cycle of meditation or even possibly, early sleep. In a theta state, our senses hone in on our internal body signals, instead of focusing on the external world around us.
Image: Ned Herrmann, The Creative Brain
Theta is ideal for meditation, and kind of a “brain autopilot” state. Some of our best ideas come to us while were in theta—when we’re daydreaming, or even performing repetitive daily tasks like driving the same route to work or taking a shower.
Float therapy can provide several benefits, which can be broken down into 3 categories: Zero-Gravity Benefits, Sensory Deprivation Benefits, and Epsom Salt Benefits.
I am a huge advocate of barre, yoga, and core-strengthening as a method to help our posture and overall muscle relief. So many people who suffer from back pain simply have weak core and poor posture—which can be helped by using the above fitness methods. I hadn’t even thought of zero-gravity to help relieve symptoms of back pain and muscle injury.
Zero-gravity floatation gives you the ability to completely relax your muscles, and take pressure off your joints, reducing pain and realigning your body. Because you’re experiencing weightlessness through salt bath therapy, your muscles and organs aren’t compacted as they usually are in gravity, allowing for increased blood circulation, and even helping to lower blood pressure. Improved circulation can, in turn, help stimulate tissue repair and improve your immune system.
Sensory Deprivation Benefits
While you’re floating, you’re doing so with reduced light and sound, calming your brain and allowing it to “press restart”, in a sense. External stimuli can really impact the way we think and use our senses. By eliminating the distractions, you can focus your thoughts internally, lowering your stress and increasing your creativity, reaction time, and sensory acuity.
Epsom Salt Benefits
Epsom Salt = Magnesium Sulfate. And it has some great physical benefits:
- Draws toxins out from the body
- Relaxes muscles through increased serotonin
- Reduces swelling, inflammation, and muscle soreness
- Naturally softens skin
I mean, honestly, why haven't I been taking salt baths all my life?!
After my session, I felt great. I wish there were different words to describe it, but really. I just felt really great. Maybe all anyone needs sometimes is a good hour and a half to float around in some salt water.
I’m sold. This float therapy stuff really helps you out, mentally, physically and everywhere in between. And, because it just wouldn’t be me without a circle back reference to horror movies, I’d defer to my buddy, Pennywise the clown…
We all float down here.
But really, I do recommend trying float therapy at least once, because you may surprise yourself, like I did. And while I probably won't add floating to a daily regimen, like my morning exercise routine, a quarterly float could serve anybody well.
So, with my cynicism and hamster wheel attitude of GET IT ALL DONE washed away, I emerge from this salty abyss a brand new me; a calmer me; a happier me that might even share my snacks at the movie theater. So, go ahead.
Test the waters.
Take the plunge.
Dip your toe in.
Yep, that about does it for water puns.
Over and out.