Exploring Possibilities: Floatation, Veterans, and PTSD

Explore the Possibilities

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is very real and can be debilitating. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD is a disorder that can develop in people who have seen or lived through a shocking, scary, or dangerous event. Symptoms of PTSD can include severe anxiety, nightmares, flashbacks, depression, confusion, and the inability to function in daily life. Unfortunately, a large number of our Veterans suffer from PTSD. According to a study conducted by RAND, 20% of Veterans deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan have experienced symptoms of PTSD. It is the 3rd most common psychiatric diagnosis for Veterans and frequently occurs with alcohol use disorders.

Floatation Therapy appears to be a promising alternative to conventional treatment. Floatation has been gaining popularity in the alternative health field due to its beneficial effects for the mind and body. The Laureate Institute of Brain Research in Oklahoma is currently conducting randomized trials to evaluate the benefits of floatation therapy on anxiety, depression, addiction and eating disorders. In 2012, Float Boston posted a case study titled,  A Story of Depression, Anxiety and PTSD, and cited the benefits that their client “Andrew” experienced while floating three times over a three week period. One interesting improvement was a reduction of “hyper-vigilance” associated with PTSD. In addition, Andrew experienced an increased feeling of well-being that he identified as similar to his anti-anxiety medications, as well as more restful sleep and a decrease in nightmares.

Another case study reported by Anthony Natale, cited similar benefits. Shane Stott, in his book The Float Tank Cure shares Anthony’s story. Anthony,  a veteran counselor, writer and massage therapist suffered from PTSD that caused severe anxiety and insomnia for years. Anthony reported sleeping through the night after his first float. He has since become an advocate for floatation through his own process of recovery. Anthony describes floating as “a cleaning out of your hard-drive”,  it is a way to reorganize and calm our central nervous system.  The deep meditative states achieved in the float assist in re-patterning the nervous system and can help you change the way you think, feel and react permanently.

In addition to calming the nervous system, floatation has been shown to decrease pain, relax the soft tissues of the body, and speed muscle recovery after exercise. If you are suffering from PTSD or know someone who is, floatation is a safe, affordable, and empowering option.

 

Athletic Development: Find Your Flow with Floatation

athletic manBeing an athlete, whether recreational or professional, requires discipline, strength and skill. Athleticism is an intricate balance of physical and mental performance. Floatation therapy is known for its physiological effects on the muscular system and the soft tissues of the body.  Floating in a tub with 800-1000 lbs of Epsom Salt works wonders for the recovery of the body after athletic exertion. Floatation therapy decreases inflammation, relaxes the muscles, increases oxygenation of cells, and speeds recovery from injury.

The physiological effects of floatation are certainly important, but what about its benefits for the mind? The mind thrives in the state of flow. “Flow” was coined by Mihaly Csikszentmihaly a Professor in the Department of Behavioral Science at the University of Chicago, and describes a “state of concentration or complete absorption with the activity at hand. It is a state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter.” This is a common occurrence with most athletes, and is often referred to as being in “the zone”. Floatation offers a unique environment for the development of “flow” for the athlete. Not only does floating decrease stress and anxiety, it increases mental cognition, creativity and clarity.  Michael Hutchison writes, in The Book of Floating;

“It is here that we see the unique value of floating: The flotation tank is a specific and reliable flow-creation tool. On the whole, floaters seem to experience flow every time they enter the tank. Even better, they experience that most elusive and pleasurable thing, long periods of pure, uninterrupted flow.”

Floatation therapy enables one to identify and experience flow and recall that state at will outside of the tank: it is a tool to develop the mind and can be a valuable asset for the athlete in training or anyone who desires to be on top of their game. We are seeing a rise in the number of athletes who are utilizing floatation therapy to enhance their athletic performance. From UFC fighters to NFL teams like the Philadelphia Eagles, floatation is being embraced with documented success. Olympic teams from Sweden, Australia and the UK  employ floatation therapy for athletic training, and many athletes are making floating even more accessible by installing float cabins and tanks in their homes.  With mounting scientific evidence to back up the benefits, floatation therapy may very well become a standard in athletic training and flow development.

References:

Floatation Therapy Current Concepts, Austrialian Institute for Sports.

The Acute Effects of Flotation Restricted Environmental Stimulation Technique on Recovery From Maximal Eccentric Exercise, Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 2013.

Floatation REST and Imagery in the Improvement of Athletic Performance, Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology, 1990.

Effects of flotation-REST on muscle tension pain, Journal of the Canadian Pain Society, 2001.

 

 

 

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Self Care Matters

thumbnailWe live in a world of constant stimulation. On any given day we are bombarded with cell phones, email, facebook, twitter, traffic, billboards, television, (bad) news, not to mention most of us have calendars packed full of events requiring our attention. All of these stimulate our central nervous system and can activate a stress response in our body. Stress creates a cascade of chemical reactions in the body releasing substances such as epinephrine and cortisol. Prolonged stress causes damage to the body systems and results in decreased immune function, sluggish digestion and is the cause of many diseases of both body and mind.

The problem is clear, so what are people doing about it? More importantly what are you doing about it? Self care is the answer; we must balance the stress in our lives with its natural opposite, relaxation. Relaxation shouldn’t just be that 2 weeks a year when you’re on vacation lounging in a hammock reading your favorite book and sipping a margarita, it needs to be a way of life. What we do for ourselves today effects our tomorrow and all of the tomorrows to come.

Some of the most popular self care practices include;

  • massage
  • yoga
  • conscious breathing
  • meditation
  • exercise
  • healthy eating
  • aromatherapy
  • energy work
  • floatation
  • reading
  • writing
  • gardening
  • drawing
  • painting
  • biking
  • hiking

All of these methods assist in fighting disease and increase feelings of peace and lead to a well rounded and healthy lifestyle.What we do is not nearly as important as the simple act of doing it. Creating the time and the space for self care is half the battle. We must make the time, then engage with passion and intention in the preservation of health and wellness. Taking the time to enjoy the moment, relaxing into uncertainty, swaying with the winds of change, loving ourselves enough to give time to the nourishment of our body, mind and soul, this is self care. As we change our attitude to ourselves we change our perception of the world, one breath at a time.

What are your self care practices?.