We all float down here…

Over the past 13 years since being officially “diagnosed” with fibromyalgia, I’ve been open to trying pretty much anything for some relief. Lately I’ve been hearing a lot about float tank therapy to help with fibro, among many other things, and have been curious about it. So, when a good friend of mine found a Groupon deal for them at Stillpoint Yoga and Float, I was excited, interested and a little nervous.

We finally gave it a try today, and here is my experience!

What is float tank therapy?

Float tank therapy is where you lay in a bathtub-like pool either in your birthday suit or your bathing suit, whichever you feel most comfortable in. (Don’t worry, it’s a 100% private room) You do exactly what it’s called – you literally relax and float in a tub filled with about 1,200 pounds of Epsom salt and water. Think about when you’re in the ocean and buoyant. It’s like that, but super concentrated and powerful. All of the research I’ve done (and now, personal experience) shows that anyone, no matter shape or size, is capable of floating. The water is set to the temperature of your skin, so it’s not supposed to feel hot or cold. It was comfortable, but toward the end it started to feel hot, as if I was in a sauna. It also is said to work best with total sensory deprivation, which definitely made me nervous. I feel like I’m way too anxious to be left alone in total darkness and silence with just my thoughts. But, since the experience is all about you and what you prefer, you have options to have soft lighting or no lighting, and music (spa music or you own) or silence. There are also ear plugs available to help keep sound, and water, out of your ears. Note to self – use the ear plugs next time

Are there any benefits other than fibromyalgia relief?

YES! So many benefits. Here are some of the other benefits listed on the website:

  • Stress relief
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • PTSD symptoms
  • Eliminate addictive behaviors
  • Eating disorders
  • Increased energy
  • Alleviate physical pain
  • Headache
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Relieve PMS symptoms
  • Headache relief
  • Improve sleep quality
  • Increase motivation
  • Improve concentration
  • Meditation practice
  • Personal growth
  • Elevate mood

Since there is significant magnesium absorption, it can also help prevent cardiovascular disease and create healthier bones and teeth.

As I was reading this I was checking off almost all of the reasons I’d want to try it. Fibromyalgia? Duh. Anxiety? Yes. Depression? Yes. Increased energy and improved sleep quality? HELL YES.

**I feel like I need to say, that I am clearly not a doctor of expert of any kind, so this is all based off my research. Also, as great as this can be, it’s not a miracle box and to see long term and lasting results, you need to go more than once. Everyone will have different results and with most things in life, nothing is guaranteed.

What are the rooms like?

Don’t let the fact that they are located in a business park throw you off. As soon as you walk in the doors, you are transported into a spa-like atmosphere. It’s clean and beautiful with essential oils diffusing and soft music playing which will instantly make you feel welcome and relaxed. If it is your first float, or first float there, they will give you a full tour to make sure you feel comfortable and ready for your experience.

The float rooms each have their own name and little decorations to make them unique, but the tanks are all the same. You walk in and there is a large bench, shelf, and little amenities to make it personal and comfortable. There’s also a sign with the overall guidelines and tips and a basket with a mirror, ear plugs, makeup remover and petroleum jelly to put on any little cuts or scrapes you have. (Definitely do this recommendation. You really can feel even a paper-cut.)

Before you float, you use the provided shampoo and body wash to get any dirt, deodorant, etc. off of your body so that you don’t contaminate the pool and so that you get the maximum results. After the float, you shower again to get all the salt water off but can bring your own toiletries if you prefer. The shower is right outside the float tank, so it’s so easy to get in and out.

Also in the float tank is a halo pillow you can use to help support your head and neck, which I did end up using. There is also a spray bottle with clean water and a towel, so that if you get salt water on your face or in your eyes, you can easily wipe it off.

How did it go?

I went into this experience with the least amount of expectations possible. Everything I read seemed positive but I didn’t want to give myself false hope.

When I first got in it was a weird feeling. I laid down and took a few minutes to get settled. I started with the light and music on, and ended up turning them off. I wanted to try and go for full sensory deprivation. It took me a long time to feel like I could settle my mind. Like I mentioned before, I am an anxious person and being left alone in silence with just my thoughts went exactly how I expected it to. I was thinking about life in general, this experience, how my friend was doing in her’s, and then anxious that I was too anxious and not enjoying it enough. After a little while more, I felt my body start to relax a bit. My arms, legs and back all felt like the tension was leaving and it was a feeling I haven’t experienced in a LONG time. I had issues getting my neck, head and shoulders to relax but I tried not to focus too much on that. Those areas hold most of my pain and trigger points, so I’m not surprised that I couldn’t really let that go on the first try. I don’t know if I fully fell asleep, but I did catch myself lightly snoring a bit (so attractive, I know) and doing that thing where your arm or leg twitches as you are falling asleep. Research shows that an hour of sleep in a float tank is equivalent to about 6-8 hours of normal sleep. I’d love just a fraction of that.

From an anxiety and mental health perspective I definitely got in some good thinking and soul searching. I left not feeling overwhelmed or anxious, and have an improved outlook on things from the time I spent really thinking about things.

In conclusion

Overall, it went well. If nothing else it was an hour totally unplugged from all outside distractions. It was relaxing (eventually) and I did notice an improvement in my fibromyalgia symptoms. I felt a bit rested, but also tired, as if I spent a whole day in the sun.

I definitely would benefit from doing it again. Next time I will know a bit more what to expect so I won’t be as anxious and will be able to get into the relaxation phase sooner. I also feel like the more you do this, the better the results. I may also do a 90 minute float next time go give myself a little cushion of time in case I am feeling anxious and have trouble settling in again.

If you have any questions or want to try it for yourself (and are in the greater Philadelphia area) definitely check out Stillpoint Yoga and Float. They can answer any questions you have and get you setup with a session. Tell them I sent you!

Anxiety is a bitch.

This is all based off my personal, f*cked up relationship with myself and my anxiety.

You text someone, and it’s a little too long before you get a text back. You don’t see those 3 little dots pop up showing they are texting you back. Or, worse. You see the dots, and then they stop and disappear. Or, even worse than that…. they left you on Read. (Shout out to Apple for really helping those with anxiety.)

Then the panic sets in. That awful feeling in the pit of your stomach, and the racing thoughts.

“What did I do wrong”. “They aren’t interested in me anymore”. “They are mad at me”. “They found someone better”.

You see them on Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat, so you know they have their phone… but they aren’t answering your text. Or initiating a text. Or making you the center of their universe.

Speaking of Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat. If someone doesn’t like our post or watch our story, that sends us into a spiral. The same type of questions. The same doubt. I recently learned to let go of that. It’s not easy, but it’s freeing. It’s only social media. It’s not that serious. But I found (okay, still am finding) myself getting upset and hurt that key people in my life aren’t “liking” things I post. Even writing this seems so dumb. But, I know it’s not just me. We look to see who watched our story. We check to see all the likes. It’s a weird form of validation that we seem to need, and it’s time to let that go.

You ask someone to hang out, grab dinner, or a drink. They say “Not tonight”. Again. The same panic. They’re over you. Done. This is it.

You get mad at them, they get mad at you, you break up, and your life is over.

But, NONE OF IT ACTUALLY HAPPENED.

We all do it, making up scenarios in our heads, and always, always going to worst case scenario. Always assuming someone is mad, disinterested, ghosting us, etc.. This goes for all types of relationships – family, friends, dating, co-workers. Even people we don’t know very well, or at all. We make assumptions and we all know what assuming does….

I’m not an expert or professional of any kind, but, from my personal experience I can tell you that your anxiety is a liar.

They didn’t text you back right away? They are probably busy. Sure, it seems like we always have our phones glued to us, but people do have lives and things to do that don’t involve instantly texting back.

They don’t want to hang out tonight? They could be busy, have other plans, or just want a night in, alone. I’m very introverted, and there are plenty of nights I don’t want to go out because I just want to be in by myself. If I feel like that, I’m sure other people do too.

I know that I have probably messed up friendships and possible romantic relationships from doing this. Becoming over clingy to avoid that feeling of distance. Becoming crazy and asking questions and assuming. Letting the made up, f*cked up story in my head get the best, or really worst, of me. It’s such a hard habit to break. From going to making a story in our heads, to taking a step back, and looking at things rationally. I feel like over the past year I’ve come a long way in this. Don’t get me wrong. I still make up the scenarios. But I’m finding that after a little bit of panic I’m able to take a step back, take a deep breath and realize that I’m probably 100% wrong in my worry. And, I usually am. The few times I am right, it’s a different type of feeling. It’s my gut. I need to learn to differentiate between anxiety and my gut, and to only listen to my gut. I am learning and working on looking at things rationally and logically. And, if for some reason someone isn’t happy with me, or interested in me, then that’s okay too. Life has, and will, go on. Worrying and stressing about it won’t help anything.

I told you, anxiety is a bitch. It causes me to over-analyze too many situations, especially relationships. Again, not just dating, but all types of relationships in my life. Some stressed me out more than others. Some were more one sided than others. If any type of relationship is causing that much anxiety, is it really worth it? I’ve learned it’s not and as painful as it is, to let some of those relationships go.

Anxiety is more than the made-up scenarios. It’s constant worry. Constant stress. About EVERYTHING. Relationships, health, money, society, the weather, global warming, the terrible Phillies season, will the Eagles win the Super Bowl again? Stress ends. You complete the task that had you worried, and poof! It’s gone. Anxiety is still there. The task is done, but what about what comes after? You find something new in the situation that causes you to still be concerned about. It’s exhausting.

A few things I’ve found that help when my anxiety is telling me a f*cked up story:

  • Take a deep breath.
  • Focus on 3 tangible things you have in your life.
  • Take out a piece of paper, and write out the situation. Seeing it and having to write it will help you realize it’s probably not true.
  • Text a friend. Tell them your crazy situation and they will be able to talk you off the ledge and bring you back to reality.

Don’t listen to your anxiety, listen to your gut.

-J

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