From reducing anxiety and stress to relieving body tension; check out these five benefits you can experience at Levity with a relaxing float.
1. REDUCED ANXIETY AND STRESS
Naturally, as the muscles that hold your posture relax, tension is lifted from all of the main areas where we carry stress physically, such as the shoulders, neck, back and hips. In the study mentioned above about anxiety, researchers found beneficial effects for emotional regulation and depression and some indication that it may help worrying as well. Other than depression, improvements continued six months after the experiment. Plus, increased cortisol levels that come with stress tend to decrease as well.
2. RELIEVE BODY TENSION
With that much salt in the water, the body actually floats in zero gravity. That’s the only way to experience zero gravity on the planet, which is why NASA uses flotation to simulate weightlessness during training. For those in chronic pain, such as fibromyalgia patients, flotation reduced muscle tension by a fourth with the first session and another third by the second session. The pain relief lasted more than two days. That’s not a unique finding—another study found it can help whiplash-associated disorder, and others have found that pain improves because levels of noradrenaline and blood lactate drop, which is good news for recreational and professional athletes with sore muscles. In fact, the float spa I went to near Athens, Georgia, had been visited by student athletes on the University of Georgia’s gymnastics, basketball and swim teams.
3. LOWERED BLOOD PRESSURE
Floating at body temperature dilates the blood vessels and reduces blood pressure. Studies have specifically measured systolic and diastolic numbers and seen them drop significantly, even after one session. Plus, the water pressure on the skin under the water is lower than the blood pressure in the body, so blood flow improves in capillaries under the skin. And studies indicate it may not take many sessions—a Swedish paper says 12 sessions may be just as effective as 33 sessions, which seemed to be the upper limit for stress-related improvements.
4. HEIGHTENED CREATIVITY
About halfway through the float session, once the body is able to let go of sensory input and its responses, the brain shifts from alpha or beta waves into theta waves, which promote deep relaxation. This drop in electrical activity more directly connects the logical left brain and creative right brain, prompting more opportunities for creativity and focus. In several studies, researchers have found that college students felt more creative during and immediately after a float session. More specifically, college musicians improved jazz improvisation and composition following float therapy. Imagine an hour-long dip leading to the next greatest hit.
5. BROADENED OUTLOOK
When the mind shifts to theta waves, it becomes more introspective, less defensive and more receptive, according to a study looking at the effects of flotation on addictive behaviors. The researchers piloted a controlled trial (that “gold standard” again) that found several sessions could modify smoking habits, and floating looks promising for overeating and alcohol consumption as well. As the mind steers away from stimuli and learns to go without the habit trigger, the body relaxes and focuses on the possibility of new habits.