We all have different ideas about eliminating stress. Maybe your preferred destressing method is a massage, or maybe sleeping in, or perhaps a nice, warm bath. If you’re feeling burned out particularly and want a novel way to alleviate your stress, a good option would be floating.
Believe it or not, floating is a science-backed way to lessen stress, depression, and anxiety. If you don’t have access to a body of water, you may want to do it in a sensory isolation tank instead.
What is a sensory isolation tank?
A sensory isolation tank is not a new invention. It dated back to the 1950s and was used to experiment with sensory deprivation while under the influence of LSD and ketamine. Decades later, commercial float tanks were created because of the health benefits floating yields, such as muscle relaxation, better sleep, pain relief, and decreased levels of stress and anxiety.
In a nutshell, a sensory isolation tank (also called sensory deprivation tank) is a tank filled with water and salt, which helps keep you afloat. It’s completely dark and soundproof, and being inside would have you feeling like you’re floating through space. There are no visual inputs, either. When you’re inside, it would just be you and your thoughts as you float on water.
How does a sensory isolation tank work?
When you’re in a sensory isolation tank, you’re away from any source of light or sound. The internal temperature is maintained at 34 degrees celsius. It creates the effect of “clouding” the boundaries between the environment and the human body. It is akin to the experience of the absence of gravity.
What happens inside a sensory isolation tank?
The experience within the tank can vary from person to person. What happens to one individual inside may not happen to another. However, most people describe their experience to result in a high level of introspection and the feeling that their mind has separated from the body.
It also has health benefits, of course, but again, it’s completely subjective. Some report that floating in a sensory deprivation tank helped them become more creative, boosting their originality, imagination, and intuition. Some also posited that the experience contributed to the improvement of their focus and concentration, and led to clearer and more precise thinking.
In terms of athletic performance, athletes who tried sensory isolation tanks experienced quicker recovery after strenuous physical training. It also improved their psychological recovery following an intense competition.
As for pain and anxiety, one study showed that a single hour session in a tank could reduce anxiety and result in an improvement in mood. It can also contribute to alleviating chronic pain, such as tension headaches and muscle pain. For others, their experience improved their cardiovascular health. There are even people who reported experiencing mild euphoria, increased well-being, and feeling more optimistic. In short, the experience made them happier.