Beating the January Blues

January.  Such an abrupt contrast to joyful December. Short dark days, no more yummy treats in the fridge, stretchy pants are the go-to outfit, the credit card bill just arrived, and the weather isn’t exactly inviting you to get outside.   Some days, it can take every ounce of energy just to get out of bed to start the day.   January 21 was called by many the ‘saddest day of the year’ or “Blue Monday”  due to the culmination of the above factors which results in feelings of depression and anxiety.  I know that I am feeling it, are you?  

As someone who is prone to depression and anxiety,  I find that I need to actively manage my mental health this time of year to avoid the winter doldrums, and make the most of every day.  Floating, of course, is my #1 tool for boosting my mood.

Here are 5 tips on how Floating can help you beat the January blues.

Get some rest. 

Winter is a natural time for hibernation and rest.   Lack of sleep can really magnify feelings of depression and anxiety. Floating is the perfect place to take advantage of deep rest –  physically, emotionally, and spiritually.    We receive lots of questions if it is OK to fall asleep in the tank, and our answer is a resounding YES.  90 minutes of un-interrupted deep physical rest can make your body feel amazing, and refresh your mind and spirit.  

Recover quickly from your fitness routine. 

  Did you get back into your routine after Christmas, or start something new?   Are you feeling sore?   Exercise is a proven method to boost your mood, but muscle soreness can be a downer.    Book some extra floats to help speed your recovery and keep your goals in sight. Being weightless allows your body to rest and recover more efficiently because your body doesn’t have to fight the effects of gravity.  The float environment also gives you an opportunity to really pay attention to your body and any areas of tightness so that you can release them.  

Visualize your success.  

 January is a natural time to set some goals and set some intentions of what you would like to create during the upcoming year.   Perhaps you have fitness or weight loss goals, perhaps you have career or family goals.  In all cases, it is inspiring and exciting to set goals, but a bit tougher to take the action steps to reach them, and even more difficult to make habitual changes and maintain them. Your float time can be a powerful tool to keep you focused on your goals.  

Pick one specific goal, and take some time to savour the feelings of success – what does success look, sound, feel, taste or smell like?  Are there different perspectives that you can view your success from?   Daydream a little bit, and imagine that you have already accomplished your goal, and bask in the victory. Let the feelings of success sink in.   I like to ‘store’ these visualizations and the feelings that come with them so that I can recall and revisit them later, outside the tank.

Practice gratitude.

 It has been proven that having an attitude of gratitude boosts your mood.  The feeling of gratitude prompts your brain to release Dopamine – a brain chemical that has a reputation as a ‘feel good’ hormone, and is often associated with feelings of bliss, euphoria, concentration, and motivation.    I love to incorporate a few minutes of gratitude in my floats.   Simply having the luxury of peace and quiet to fully appreciate a handful of things that I feel blessed to have in my life gives me a sense of wellbeing that lasts long after the float has ended. 

Stay healthy during cold and flu season.

 Sailing through January feeling healthy is a much more attractive option than battling the dull days with a head cold.  High levels of the stress hormone Cortisol have been linked to reduced immune system response as well as feelings of depression.   Floating facilitates deep rest,  reduced feelings of stress and cortisol levels,  as well as a positive state of mind, all of which keep your immune system strong.   Couple the physical aspects of floating with visualizations of your healthy, strong body, and you increase your chances of starting the year as your healthiest self. 

Above all, January is a perfect time to practice excessive self care, indulge in activities that you love, and celebrate the small wins.  Want more information? Check out our benefits of floating page.

Floating for Happiness

happiness hap·​pi·​ness | \ˈha-pē-nəs  \

The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines Happiness as follows:
a) A state of well-being and contentment
b) A pleasurable or satisfying experience

Shorter days, colder temperatures, busy schedules….. All of these things can chip away at your level of Happiness this time of the year.  But, did you know that floating can give you a happiness boost?

Remember these 5 things when you need just a little boost.

1.  Happiness has a molecular basis.

This is according to Yale biochemist Philip Applewhite.  The good news is that we can increase the levels of these pleasure-creating neurochemicals through frequent conscious use.  We know that the deep state of relaxation that you reach during a float session causes the body to release endorphins, serotonin and dopamine which contribute to feelings of happiness.   The more frequently you float, the more often your body is producing your happy hormones.

2.  Re-create the feelings of happiness anywhere, any time.   

People who float frequently know that ‘sweet spot’ – that feeling of flow and deep relaxation, where your body has disappeared into the nothingness, and you melt into pure bliss.   Brain research suggests that all experiences are stored away in the brain, and we can instantly recall them with the right signal.  This state becomes a clear ‘body memory’ that becomes easier and easier to access both inside and outside the tank.  The float tank is a natural biofeedback machine which allows us to become aware of these states of deep relaxation and remember them clearly. With a little practice, you can recreate this bliss wherever you are.  Try it next time you are in line at the grocery store.  Pause for a second, and revisit those feelings from your last float.

3.  Your body will feel like doing a Happy Dance.  

Removing the effect of gravity from a sore and achy body can do wonders.  If you are suffering from chronic pain, recovering from a great work out, or itching to get back out on the slopes ASAP, a float will make your body happy.   The anti-gravity float environment allows your body to relax without any pressure points,  allow easier blood circulation, heightens your body awareness so that you can easily pin point areas where you may be holding tension and more.  Visualize the sore parts of your body releasing and healing, and the total experience can be very powerful.  When your body is happy, chances are your mood will take a great leap up the happiness scale as well.

4.  Take some much-needed ‘ME’ time. 

Family commitments, work commitments, shopping, baking, visiting, wrapping, and let’s not even mention the crowds – oh my. This time of the year can feel a little bit overwhelming.  A 90 minute reset can provide just the reprieve that you need to let the chaos go, gain some clarity on what is really important, and catch up on some much needed rest.  Some of our customers report some pretty epic naps during their float, leaving them feeling incredibly recharged and refreshed.

5. Be present and savour the precious moments.  

 With so many memory-making moments this time of year, isn’t it important to be truly present to enjoy them?  Floating has been shown to reduce feelings of anxiety, depression and overwhelm.  Guess what happens when your precious energy is no longer being used to feed the anxiety monster?  You have more energy to focus on the things that matter, like truly connecting with the person you are with, noticing the true beauty of nature, savouring the joy of simply being alive.  It is truly a glorious feeling.

Want to learn more about the benefits of floating? Learn more HERE

Tip from the tank – Being Body Aware

I have regular conversations with customers who are surprised about what their body ‘tells’ them during the float.  Being body aware was a new experience for them.

Some people are able to pinpoint a specific source of pain. Sometimes the source is in a slightly different spot from where they had been treating. Others have discovered imbalances or potential issues and seek early treatment. The absence of pressure points and gravity, along with the quiet float environment provide the perfect environment for you to really pay attention to your body and what it is trying to tell you.

Body scanning

In his book “The Deep Self”, John C. Lilly describes the body sensation of floating .  “Automatically the body assumes a position in which all sets of agonist/antagonist muscles are precisely balanced, with knees and elbows flexed…. I learned a good deal about my habitual physical tension-patterns and tightness from old injuries from the asymmetry of my body in this relaxed state”

At the beginning of my float, my body starts out in a position that mimics how I was holding it throughout the day. At first this feels comfortable and natural. But soon, it doesn’t feel quite so natural and comfortable. I like to do a slow body scan to tune into what’s going on.

For my body scans, I start at my toes and relax them one by one. Then flex and relax my feet and ankles, relax my calves, bend my knees, twist my hips, relax my belly, chest, arms and each finger. Finally relax my shoulders, neck, jaw, ears, forehead and hair. (Don’t laugh- you may be surprised at how much tension you can hold in your scalp.)

Tuning in to the results

After some gentle movement or stretching, my body adjusts to a newer and even more comfortable position. Because of the quiet and supportive float space, I am able to really notice which muscles have loosened, how my posture has changed and where I feel more aligned. I often need to do this several times during my float. Even though the adjustments in my body get smaller each time, I am still able to notice each subtle change.

Tuning into subtle changes in my body during my float practice makes it much easier to notice how I hold my body outside the tank. I am more aware of where my body is twisting or uneven. This allows me to correct it to either prevent injury or improve performance. I am also better at noticing where muscle tension is building so that I can take corrective action. It’s also easier to notice what feels good, healthy and strong.

So, we recommend spending a bit of time in your float, deeply listening to your body, sending loving thoughts to the places that need healing and to the parts that help you move through your day.  You may be surprised at what you learn.

How floating can boost your GPA

Back to school, it’s time to hit the books!  Summer is over – back to the big projects at work.  Are you looking for ways to make the most of your hard work?  Here are 5 ways that Floating can boost your GPA and your performance at work.  

1.  Reduce your stress, clear your mind.  

With all the projects to complete, pages to read, papers to write, stress is everywhere.  When you are stressed, your brain triggers the release of many neurochemicals like cortisol and adrenalin.  While a little bit of stress can help you ‘get in the zone’ and be super-productive for a short period of time, long periods of stress can lead to an excess of cortisol and other stress hormones.  When cortisol levels are too high, they can impact your memory and hamper your mental performance, hence the saying “stress makes you stupid”.  So, now you can become stressed out and forgetful.  Not a good combination if you are on a deadline.

Floating has been proven to provoke a relaxation response that reduces the levels of cortisol  and other stress hormones in your body, leaving you with a greater ability to focus and concentrate.  Furthermore, floating has been been shown to produce a beneficial ‘maintenance’ response, meaning that your body has a reduced stress response for several days after your float

So, consider scheduling a float before, during and after your exam period or project completion timeline to boost your retention during studying and preparing, mental performance during the exam or presentation, and a quick recovery after your busy time is over.

2.  Fight that cold 

When you are stressed, your body’s immune response can be compromised, leaving you at a greater risk of getting sick.  A head cold is the last thing that you need when you are studying for a big exam!   Floating reduces your stress response which gives your body’s immune response a chance to function at full capacity.  Plus, studies have shown that people who visualize their bodies healing and feeling strong and healthy recover faster .  So, float regularly to reduce stress, and imagine your body being as healthy as possible.  Keep your body healthy to ensure your peak performance!

3.  Recovery from sitting too long. 

You know that stiff feeling, after you’ve been sitting for a long time.  Muscle tightness, aches and pains are uncomfortable and can be distracting.   Floating effortlessly and feeling weightless for 90 minutes can release muscle tension, reduce aches and pains, and allow for increased circulation to help your body move again.   You can try out the selection of pillows and pool noodles if you find that your body likes to float in a particular position.   Make your body comfortable so that you can focus on studying, not on your sore neck.

4.  Superlearning. 

There is an increasing amount of science emerging that shows that the greatest amount of learning takes place when the learner’s state of mind is one of deep relaxation combined with mental alertness.  In fact, studies have shown that the deeper the relaxation, the more the student is able to learn.  When you are deeply relaxed, your brain enters the Theta Wave state that is highly conducive to complex learning.  In theta state, the mind is most open to the absorption of new material and most capable of complex thinking and retention of what you have learned.   “A-ha” Moments come when you are in Theta state.  During a float, the absence of distraction also makes the brain even more highly receptive to the information presented to it.

Come in for a float to give your mind to process and absorb all your new knowledge.  Or, if you have a particular audio segment or lecture that you would like to listen to during. your float, let us know and we can set that up for you.

5.  Visualize Success.

  If you can imagine ityou can achieve itIf you can dream ityou can become it ~William Arthur Ward

Whether it is success in school, success in sport, or success in the workplace, there is mounting evidence supporting the powerful nature of visualization.  The more clearly you can see a situation in your mind’s eye, the more possibility it has of becoming real.    The subconscious mind tends to accept vividly imagined scenarios as real. By accepting a positive experience as real, or that it has already happened, you can spend your energy pursuing the goal instead of playing ‘what-if’.  If you are visualizing a pleasant experience, like success in an exam, your brain automatically responds by releasing feel good neurochemicals like endorphins.   The effect of your feel-good neurochemicals can also last for several days after your float, helping you to maintain a sense of clear-headed calm.

Try this out during your next float – picture success, and soak it in (literally).    How does your success feel, what does it look like, what are the sights, sounds and smells that come with success.  Play it out during your float, and watch it come to life at the exam.

So, give these strategies a try during your school year, and let us know how they go! Interested unlearning more about floating? Learn more HERE

Want to improve your golf game?

Want to take strokes off your golf game? Athletic performance has two major components – physical and mental. A commonly known benefit of floating and sauna use is pain relief. But did you know they can both help your mental game as well?

Physical benefits

Floating in the anti-gravity and magnesium rich environment makes your body feel pretty amazing after 90 minutes. Magnesium Sulfate (Epsom Salt) helps to relax muscles, reduce swelling and pain from arthritis, and relieve pain from fibromyalgia and various causes. The anti-gravity environment allow your tight muscles, ligaments and tendons to deeply relax. The absence of pressure points and gravity allow your body’s circulation to work more effectively to detoxify and heal.

A lesser known benefit of floating is that it provides the perfect environment for you to become very body aware. The quiet space really pay attention to your body and the messages that it is sending you. It is not uncommon to be able to really pinpoint a sore spot or feel that the source of pain is actually somewhere slightly different than the area you have been treating through massage or physiotherapy.  Identifying your sore spots makes them much easier to treat.

Being body aware may also show you where your body is out of balance, holding unnecessary tension, or needing some extra TLC. By practicing body awareness in the tank, you are also better able to position your body every time you swing a club. You are much more aware of your current body position and can judge if it is the best position for the stroke you are about to take. Small improvements in your form show up in a big way on your scorecard.

Mental benefits

Visualization – can have an even greater impact on your game.  Playing the course in your head, imagining yourself making every shot easily.  Seeing the ball fly further and straighter.  Feeling how your body moves effortlessly through the stroke.  Seeing yourself sink the perfect putt for your best round ever.

Studies have shown that athletes who visualize success have a slight improvement in their game.  However, athletes who visualize and mentally experience the entire physical process of the game improved their performance dramatically.  Floating promotes the generation of large amounts of slow Theta brain waves, which are directly linked to the production of mental images of uncanny power and reality.  *

Want to learn more about floating? Check out our Float FAQ page.

(*Taken from “The Book of Floating, Michael Hutchison, pg 173,175)

Tip from The Tank

Water temperature

As you know, water temperature in a float environment is an important part of the experience.  The idea is to have the water at skin temperature so that your body can ‘disappear’ into the water.   Float tank water temperature is specifically set at skin temperature (94.5 F). Most people find this temperature comfortable – but we totally recognize that temperature is a personal thing. Tiny adjustments can make take a great float to an out-of-this world float.

Here are some tips to help you feel the most comfortable while floating:

  1.  If you know that you naturally run hot or cold, we may need to adjust the water temperature for you.  When you book your appointment, simply let us know if you would like the water warmer or cooler. We need a little bit of extra time for this, so please give us a heads up. We will keep a note on your file and personalize your settings for future floats.   Sometimes a tiny adjustment can make the world of difference
  2.  By more closely matching the temperature of your shower to the temperature of the float environment, the transition is so much easier. In the last minute or two of your pre-float shower, we recommend reducing the temperature of your shower so that it more closely matches the temperature of the float.
  3. Once you are in your float, find a comfortable body position and try to stay as still as possible during your float.  Sometimes there are slight differences between the air temperature and the water temperature.  So, every time you move, your skin re-adjusts to the water and air temperatures which can feel cool.  Finding a comfortable, still position will help your body feel like it is ‘disappearing.

For more tips and tricks on the perfect float, check out our FAQ page

Float History

Movies like Stranger Things and Altered States feature floating, in its not-so-relaxing and not-so-appealing forms.  Have you ever wondered where this amazing therapy started?? Here’s a little bit of float history for you.

In the early 1950’s, Dr. John C. Lilly, a MD with training as a psychoanalyst and specialist in experimental neurophysiology set out to study areas of neuropsychology.  He reasoned that the best way to study the brain/mind was to isolate it from external stimulation.  At this time, there were two main schools of thought about brain activity.  The first school of thought was that the brain needed external stimulation to remain conscious, and that sleep resulted as soon as the brain was free of this external stimulation.   The second school of thought was that the brain’s natural cellular circuitry was autorhythmic and continue without any external stimulation.

He started his study of sensory deprivation in a tank constructed during WWII for experiments by the navy on the metabolism of underwater swimmers.  This tank had the floater suspended upright, entirely underwater, head covered by a breathing apparatus and mask.

During his initial experiments, he described what happened to our minds and bodies when categories of external stimulation were eliminated:

People

There are no other people in your float tank, so there is no need to worry about social roles, or what you look like.  You can be free from any expectation of others in a float tank.

Light  

A large portion of our cerebral cortex is given over to visual processing.  When we eliminate light from our environment, our ‘biocomputer’ continues to generate ‘visual displays’, presumably from stored memories.

Sound

Like light, when external sound is eliminated, the internal ‘biocomputer’ fills the acoustic sphere with information.  He called these internal sounds ‘sonic displays’.

Gravity

In our everyday activities, and below our level of awareness, we are constantly computing the direction of gravity.  Floating in water distributes the countergravity pressure over a maximum possible area, therefore reducing this source of stimulation.

Temperature

In everyday life, our skin is stimulated by changes in heat, humidity, clothing.  Changes in temperature and heat flow are powerful programmers for our state of well-being.

It is interesting to note, that in the mid-1950’s, the thinking was that sensory deprivation was a road to ‘madness’.  Instead, what Dr. Lilly found was a ‘richly elaborate state of inner experience’.  “This environment furnished the most profound relaxation and rest that he had ever experienced in his whole life”.  Within a few hours of his first satisfactory float, he was able to scientifically conclude which school of thought was correct – that the brain was indeed able to sustain itself in the absence of external stimuli.

Dr. Lilly continued his work to develop much more user-friendly float environments that are the basis of the float tanks that we know and love today.

Next time you are in to the shop, feel free to browse our sources of information for this article – “Centre of the Cyclone” and “The Deep Self”, by Dr Lilly as well as “The Book of Floating” by Michael Hutchinson.