One of the primary benefits of floatation therapy is stress reduction. While this is not the only benefit, it is perhaps one of the most significant. According to the American Psychological Association, chronic stress is linked to the six leading causes of death: heart disease, cancer, lung ailments, accidents, cirrhosis of the liver, and suicide. More than 75% of all physician office visits are for stress-related ailments and complaints.
The sad truth is that stress is a complex and potentially dangerous risk factor that causes a lot of suffering in a lot of lives. Stress can lead to increased risk of chronic disease, as well as simply detract from the quality of daily life.
That’s why we believe floating is so beneficial. Both from personal testimonies from our frequent floaters and by delving into the scientific research, it’s evident that float tanks have huge potential to lessen stress.
Here are just a few of the ways floating works to reduce stress:
Floating Removes Distraction
One of the simplest ways that floating reduces stress is because it removes stimuli. Many of our frequent clients describe how unique the experience of floating can be: there is no other refuge in our busy world that all distractions, from work deadlines to traffic to even our families, are literally removed from the environment.
In one study, researchers conducted formal interviews with individuals who had recently floated on multiple occasions. The researchers found that “…for most people it is a calm and safe setting where nothing bad can happen. They are inaccessible to the rest of the world with its stress and demands.” (1) This sense of safety and refuge appears to be a key component to reducing stress – and one that’s hard to find anywhere else.
Floating Physically Reduces Stress Hormones
In addition to the more subjective experience of feeling relaxed, floating has been associated with a clear reduction in several physical components of stress. In a meta-analysis of 27 prior studies on floatation therapy, researchers discovered that floating actually lowered blood pressure and levels of cortisol (commonly known as “the stress hormone”). High levels of cortisol are frequently associated with elevated stress and increased risk for chronic illnesses and depression. (2)
Floating doesn’t just feel relaxing in a touchy-feely sense, but helps the body regulate the hormones that lead to the experience of stress.
Lasting Benefits of Floating
Best of all? The relaxed buzz of floating doesn’t end when you exit the tank. One Swedish study found that positive effects of floating, including decreased levels of stress and depression, continued for about four months after a 12-session treatment program. (3)
In another study, participants who combined floating with psychotherapy saw tremendous results, and reported the treatment “brought about a sense of presence, relaxation, and diminished stress and pain that lasted for several days.”(4)
The researchers suggested that the amplified effect might have been due to the fact that counseling sessions took place directly after float sessions, perhaps allowing the participants to open up and be vulnerable with their therapist more quickly than they would have otherwise.
If you or a loved one is suffering from stress, we encourage you to come visit us here at Sapphire Springs, our floatation therapy center. As part of our ongoing mission to make floating as accessible as possible to as many individuals as we can, we offer a range of discounts, including first-time floaters, students, and service personnel, and our monthly and annual memberships make it easy to incorporate floating into your regular routine.
- Sensory Isolation in Flotation Tanks: Altered States of Consciousness and Effects on Well-being, The Qualitative Report, December 2008.
- Flotation restricted environmental stimulation therapy (REST) as a stress-management tool: A meta-analysis, Psychology & Health, 2005.
- Eliciting the relaxation response with the help of flotation-rest (restricted environmental stimulation technique) in patients with stress-related ailments, International Journal of Stress Management, May 2006.
- Psychotherapeutic Treatment in Combination with Relaxation in a Flotation Tank: Effects on “Burn-Out Syndrome”, The Qualitative Report, September 2010.