Floating for Stress
While doctors maintain that 90% of people that come to them have illnesses that are stress related, we often try to desensitise ourselves or disassociate ourselves from the symptoms rather then recognising them for what they are. When we are so frightened that we can’t eat, we tell ourselves we have indigestion. When anxiety robs us of sleep we talk about insomnia. Chronic tight back – we have a back problem.
In the first stages of stress, our body responds with alarm to a stressor – diverting our body’s resources towards dealing with the specific stress. The result is our general resistance to disease is weakened. With prolonged stress our resources become exhausted, the immune system becomes depleted and the body begins to break down.
The biggest problem with stress arises when we do not respond with a fight-or-flight reaction to stress stimulus. This immobility is interpreted by the brain as evidence of insufficient preparation for fight or flight, and the body responds by initiating more stress hormones. We experience this response as mounting tension.
The answer is for us to regularly and deliberately decrease our stress levels, and there is a really easy way for you to do this, Floatation Therapy (also known as sensory deprivation or an isolation tank) is a simple, easy, comfortable way to interrupt this cycle of stress. On a simple level, the floatation tank completely removes you from the influence of the stressor. This is a perfect place to wind down. With the complete lack of stimulation in the floatation tank, the flood of chemicals that have jangled your nerves is eliminated and your body chemistry returns to normal. You are filled with a deep sense of calmness, so that you experience a delicious sensation of peace, well-being and exhilaration.
This hour of perfect peace gives you a chance to interrupt the cycle of fight or flight tension before it gets out of control and before it is too late.
Scientists have proven that the effects of the tank go way beyond the temporary escape from the external stressful stimulus. While the absence of stress is desirable, it does not necessarily lead to relaxation. The floating session releases a powerful response which is as powerful as the stressful fight or flight one. This response mobilises the body to bring about an active, alert positive and beneficial state of deep relaxation. This total relaxation, rather then being a shameful lack of doing something useful, is critical to maintaining our mental and physical health.
It is a misconception that simply doing nothing is enough to create a state of relaxation. In fact, gaining a harmonious state of mind body integration requires both effort and training to establish and sustain. It is no more natural to be in a state of true relaxation then is to be in a state of fight or flight arousal. Deep relaxation requires a distinct physiological response that involves the coordinated activities of a large part of our nervous system.
Numerous researchers have found that the relaxation response is effective in alleviating virtually every stress related disease and problem (remember the 90% of patients that doctors talk about) including high blood pressure, ulcers, asthma, anxiety, fatigue, and heart disease. In addition anyone who regularly elicits the relaxation response profits with increased emotional, mental and physical strength and stability; decreased consumption of drugs, cigarettes and alcohol; increased ability to cope with the stresses of every day life.
There is a catch right?
Well…yes and no. Normally reaching this kind of relaxation repose demands the discipline and dedication of practiced meditation to achieve. And anyone who has ever tired meditation will know that it takes a lot of practice and hard work to reach that state of physical quietness that indicates success.
There is another way however:
The floatation tank is the perfect tool to reach this relaxation repose. It is so easy, in fact it, doesn’t require anything of you except to lie back in the water and let the effects of total isolation work on your body.
Scientific evidence has shown that a single float can bring about the relaxation repose, remove stress from your body, and break the cycle of stress.
- Decreasing blood pressure, heart rate, oxygen consumption & muscular tension.
- Increasing production of alpha & theta waves in the brain.
- Decrease the levels of fight or flight hormones such as adrenaline, ACTH, cortisol, norepinephrine & epinephrine.
In fact, research goes so far as to suggest that floating makes the hypothalamus more resistant to stress, and does so for long periods.
This extraordinarly deep relaxation is a product of the tank itself, not the result of some conscious effort of technique on the part of the floaters. It just happens.