When Staffordshire Living were invited along to Time to Float in Stafford by Mark the owner of the business, the consensus was as the oldest and most broken member of the team that I should go along to find out what “Floating” was all about. I must admit that the temptation of an hour off the phone on a busy Thursday morning, also had its appeal.
I like to think that I am not more stressed that the average person, however having experienced the world of publishing for 30 years this month, I can certainly see how times have changed. Whereas life did hold some similar challenges back in the early 90’s, I do remember that although work was very stressful that I belonged to the generation that was able to switch off when returning from work. There were only 4 channels on the TV, and no such thing as emails, smart phones, internet banking, shopping, 24/7 news, the internet was on dial up so took ages to connect so we mostly gave up and used faxes and landlines to communicate.
So, switching off from work at least was automatic. These days we must be always “on it”. Work can continue into the night and at weekends and the world just does not switch off…. Ever!
We are all told that stress in moderation is a good thing, it turns on the cortisol enzyme which gives us that primeval fight or flight response which can make us super-efficient in short bursts. However, cortisol that is turned on all the time, can be a killer.
Chronic high cortisol may damage the hippocampus, induce MCI, and reduce the brain function of elderly. Chronic high cortisol is a major risk factor associated with the development of dementia, it can also cause, stroke, high blood pressure, heart attacks to name a few. Also stress can increase pain levels, cause sleeplessness and many other ailments, All of which can be effectively tackled by floating
We were interested to know how and why Mark set up his business and he told us that back in 2010 he was working in corporate events as an Event Manager and after many years of back pain he was looking for a way of trying to resolve that. He was on the London Tube and saw an advert for a company who were marketing the Float pods. He gave it a try and discovered in his first session that it was relieving his pain effectively. He was so impressed with the relief he experienced, he kept floating whenever he got a chance, and when he was ready to set up, he purchased some pod units from them and set up Time to float. During the last 8 years Mark has built up a fantastic business and the building that he operates from is now completely set up as an oasis of calm, Zen and relaxation.
So, what is Floating all about?
Sensory deprivation might seem scary for the uninitiated. I must admit to being nervous as to how it all worked. So, on arrival you fill in a form including your medical history and your blood pressure is taken as a base line. A quick tour of what Time to Float has to offer is provided (Everything is provided at the centre that you will need to get yourself ready to go back to the world outside) before you are then shown to the private pod room, which is yours for the next hour. Mark explains the pod, how it works, getting in and out and safely and the benefits of putting the lid down (if you are claustrophobic you can leave the lid up, but it will cool the water and you won’t benefit as much from the sensory deprivation)
There is Vaseline provided if you have any nicks on your skin, as I can attest to the salt does sting, if you miss one or two like I did! You have a shower after getting changed (or not) into your swim wear. On getting into the pod, you use a float ring to keep your head out of the water and there is a spray bottle of clean water (just in case the salt water gets into your eyes). Pull down the lid, switch of the lights and relax.
The float experience involves being perfectly supported by Epsom salt saturated water, kept precisely at body temperature, floating effortlessly without feeling any external pressures – like floating in space, flotation therapy (or Sensory depravation as it is sometimes referred to) in a flotation tank is often described as like being in a zero-gravity environment. This enables the senses to calm in a way that’s unlike anything else. Wrapped in a protective cocoon of silence and warmth, suddenly you are free from distractions and stresses of the world.
The magic of floating all stems from this – promoting a deep meditative state in which the body is shown to heal itself faster. I can honestly say that for the first few minutes you sort of second guess your own thoughts and question just what you should be thinking about. This soon goes away, and you drift into a zen like state, a bit like the time in-between sleep and waking. It’s a little bit hypnotic, but as your body starts to relax, your mind does too. However, once the hour is up and you have showered & changed and are sat in the designated post float relaxation space, you realise that you have had a sort of a reboot – my Arthritis pain had diminished, I felt both relaxed and alert at the same time, and very much ready to tackle the world. My blood pressure was taken again, and had dropped.
The sleep I had last night must have been good because I woke up this morning and felt alert, alive and really organised for once – so why did this happen?
Floating reduces Anxiety
Research is beginning to show that there are long term health benefits from training the body and mind to recover.
Floating has consistently been shown to reduce pain, anxiety, stress and depression, as well as improve sleep quality, and general well-being.
Floating reduces pain.
There are a several physical benefits that floating has been shown to offer – including reduced pain, inflammation, reducing stress your body or immune system might be under.
Floating promotes vasodilation, which means that your blood vessels dilate to allow better blood flow as well as ease high blood pressure. Better blood flow also means better oxygenation, and nutrient delivery.
Floating helps speed up recovery for Athletes
Floating helps athletes bounce back faster. Another effect of improved vasodilation is your body can more quickly flush out lactic acid after workouts. This helps recovery from sore muscles, pain, and stiffness.
Floating Lowers Stress
The Epsom salts used in floatation therapy are high grade Magnesium sulphate. There is major research underway which seeks to prove magnesium absorption through skin – many think float therapy can remedy an individual’s magnesium deficiency, and can reduce restless leg syndrome, among other related symptoms.
Cortisol reduction has regularly been shown to top 20% from 60 minutes in a float tank. Greater benefits are felt by people with higher stress levels, as might be expected.
Floating improves sleep
One of the largest studies on sleep ever conducted, found that 50% of us in the UK fail to get enough of it. The Guardian describes getting good sleep as the best thing you can do for your health. Floating helps sleep, so perhaps floating is the best thing you can do for your health.
Cortisol levels should naturally reduce towards the evening, and higher than ordinary levels can disrupt sleep. Rest is important for the body to manage cortisol levels, so not prioritising rest can even cause cortisol to maintain above healthy levels.
By reducing cortisol, floating also might aid the body to maintain healthier melatonin levels, a hormone that helps the transition to sleep each night.
What else might floating help?
It’s been reliably shown that there can be far reaching, often profound benefits from floating in terms of health, lifestyle, and well-being.
There’s significant anecdotal evidence that floating helps with chronic pain, athletic recovery, super-learning, better sleep, reduced stress, reduced blood pressure, and the act of being in an isolation tank is even used by some to aid consciousness exploration (more on this in another blog post).
The long-term health benefits of regular good quality sleep or a successful mediation practice are well-proven.
So whilst it may seem like taking an hour out of your day feels a bit selfish when life is so busy, but the benefits of that one hour to yourself may mean that you get many more pain free and stress less years to come! Open 7 days a week, why not give the team at Time to float a call 01785 747654 or make an Appointments: bit.ly or check out their website https://www.timetofloat.co.uk/ for more information