“Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.” – Anne Lamott
Float spas are surging in popularity as a self-care practice. It is believed to be a fantastic form of therapy to help you physically and mentally relax. How?
By unplugging yourself from our social and technology-driven environment, depriving your senses for a short period of time.
When you are in a relaxed state, it helps to boost your focus and creativity and promotes faster healing and muscle recovery.
As I have been experiencing some upper shoulder tension and feeling out of sort lately, I decided to book a float and see what the fuss is about.
What is a float?
Remember the vessel Lady Gaga arrived in at the Grammy awards back in 2011 that looked like an egg? That’s what the floatation tank reminds me of.
You strip down and lie naked in a water tank that is heated to mimic the outside temperature of your skin, filled with Epsom salts in darkness.
The Science Behind It
The Epsom salt is what makes you float while it soothes your sore muscles. And the way the water is set up is to help your brain register that there is no temperature change and that you are in a safe environment. This activates your parasympathetic nervous system which produces endorphins and dopamine, the feel-good hormones in your body. And after a float session many people feel lighter, calmer and a reduction to any pain or tension they had previously in their body.
Everybody’s experience is different and unique but here is mine. When the idea of floating was introduced to me I had my reservations. I was afraid of feeling claustrophobic. However, the tank in real life is bigger than I thought. The float spa I went to also allowed me to customize my experience.
From the music to the lighting to whether or not I want to keep the pod door closed or keep it slightly opened, (you are in your own private room so you don’t have to be afraid of someone walking in on you).
Prior to getting in, I was briefed to utilize the Vaseline provided to cover any scrapes to prevent stinging. Needless to say, I forgot to do this. Upon getting in and lying down, I was immediately reminded of this scrape I had.
To distract myself from the sting, I played with the lights and the music volume for a bit to experiment. Eventually, I turned it all off to enter into complete sensory deprivation mode.
It was okay in the beginning, but then after awhile my mind started racing and I needed to calm it down. I started reciting mantras and concentrated on my breathing. In-out-in-out. After that, I realized I liked it better with the music on. So I turned it back on.
In due course, I decided to close my eyes, let my mind wander and listened to my breath. And just when I started settling in and feeling like I got the hang of lying there and letting go, I heard a voice saying that my time is almost up. Prepare and head for the shower (which was also in my private room) to rinse off.
Do’s and Don’ts
Most spas will provide you with a pre and post after float checklist but here are some additional tips to help make your float experience more comfortable.
- Do put on some vaseline to cover your cuts or scraps;
- Avoid shaving the day of the float, as you may be more sensitive to razor burn;
- Use the washroom before the float if you need it;
- Do put in your earplugs before you shower and getting into the floating pod. After your shower, the inside of your ears might be wet, so the earplug is less likely to stay put;
- Do take a shower and rinse off with cold or lukewarm water. As the floating water is set to your skin temperature, you want to feel cool getting in vs. hot, or you’ll end up feeling cold the whole time during your session;
- Avoid caffeine before you float. The stimulation you experience from caffeine can hinder your ability to relax and experience the full effect of floating.
How long is a float?
Typically 60 minutes. If you are a seasoned floater some spas offer longer sessions.
Would I go again? Yes. I felt relaxed and the next day I felt the muscles in my shoulders loosen. It wasn’t as tight. I’m curious to know if it will be easier to let go and relax more fully the second time. I would like to achieve the theta state people talk about next time I’m in the floating pod. This is the state where your brain moves from the alpha (awake state) to the REM state (a dream state, where you are asleep but not).
Apparently, on the second or third float your brain can shift fairly quickly. Would I recommend trying it? Yes. I believe it is worth trying. My skin felt super soft after so in my opinion that in itself is a win already! Even if I wasn’t able to completely reach theta-brain wave state (REM state) during my session. So if you are looking to do anything of the following:
- to disconnect;
- to relax;
- to boost your focus;
- to help clear your mind;
- to reduce physical tension and pain
I’d recommend to give it a go! I will leave it to you to decide if it is something for you. Let me know if you’ll be trying it! Or if you have tried it, let me know what you think.