When was the last time you worked through lunch? Missed a workout? Skipped your weekly bubble bath? We often add time for ourselves on the to-do list, but somehow those tasks are still left without a check mark at the end of the day. When the surprises of daily life pop up, me-time tends to take a backseat. Some may view mental health breaks as unnecessarily indulgent or selfish – even when they’re vital to meet the needs of demanding careers, hectic family schedules, and active social lives.
So how do we make a mental shift and prioritize self-care? That’s the question I’ll be exploring over the next few weeks by encouraging you to “Give Yourself A REST,” a series of posts that proves a regularly scheduled floating practice is as important as anything else you see in your calendar.
Let’s start with the artists among us. Whether you’re a musician, designer, or a regular at your local Wine & Paint Class, float therapy is crucial to get your creative juices flowing.
Stoke Creativity: Staring down the barrel of an artistic brain block? Pack your Brian Eno album and head to the float spa. Research shows that soothing, ambient noise encourages brain activity without intruding upon our focus on the task at hand – ideal for engaging our brains across both hemispheres. When coupled with the deep relaxation of a float session, music can help activate the corpus callosum, a broad column of nerves that connects the two hemispheres of the brain. The result: Our rational reasoning centers increase communication with our brains’ emotional hubs, helping us to approach problems more creatively. Those who float regularly often report greater clarity, emotional buoyancy, and mental preparedness when faced with new puzzles.
Improve Stress Response: Our bodies and our brains are on a constant feedback loop; how we feel physically plays a part in how we feel emotionally, and vice versa. Think about the last time you experienced pre-performance jitters – while your mind raced with visions of great success or embarrassing missteps, your heart rate probably quickened and your hands became clammy. Controlling stress isn’t easy, but studies show that calming our physical stress symptoms can help quiet a nervous mind. Float therapy tackles both the physical and mental game in a single session by utilizing a 30% Epsom salt solution. Magnesium sulfate, the mineral compound that makes up Epsom salt, is easily absorbed through the skin during a float session and put to work through our blood stream. When working together, magnesium sulfate maintains the basics: blood pressure, breathing, and hearth rhythm. Researchers have shown that regular exposure to magnesium sulfate maintains optimum levels of both minerals, ensuring a little performance anxiety won’t get the best of you.
Actively Rest: If we can stoke creativity by listening to our iPods and improve stress response by drawing a salt bath at home, why take the time to float? While remembering to unwind at home serves us well, there’s a reason float therapy kicks basic self-care into the major leagues: Deep relaxation. We’re not just talking about taking time to lay down – floating is one of the most effective ways to shift our brains into a prolonged Theta wave state. Historically, Theta brain waves were primarily observed in fleeting moments between sleep and wake, or occasionally during periods of meditation. Even then, researchers noted that only Zen monks with many years of meditative practice were able to achieve controlled periods of Theta wave activity. However, the environment within the float pod has proven to be extremely conducive to Theta wave engagement; even first-timers to float therapy often experience an extended period of Theta wave functioning. Beyond relaxation, Theta waves are associated with unconscious memories, free association, insight, and inspiration. Theta waves are to your brain what spinach is for Popeye, providing a huge bio-psychological boost to your creative practice.
Whether you’re an artist by trade, by passion, or just hoping to get your creative juices flowing, a regular float practice can set the stage for innovation. Visit your local True REST spa to float your way to inspiration!