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FOCUS: Can you 'float' your way to better mental health?

FOCUS: Can you 'float' your way to better mental health?

Friday 31 March 2023

FOCUS: Can you 'float' your way to better mental health?

Friday 31 March 2023

Stressed? Overwhelmed? We've all had that feeling of wanting to run and hide from our problems and anxieties... But what about hopping into a tank and depriving yourself of feelings and senses entirely?

Express went to found out about what could be the Channel Islands' most unique 'spa'...

The Wellbeing Centre at Castle Quay possesses the only 'Float Spa' in the Channel Islands, and offers a course of 'floatation therapy'... but what exactly is it?

Floatation therapy is also known as "sensory deprivation therapy", and involves a person immersing themselves in a sensory deprivation - or floatation - tank, where they are deprived of any external stimuli.


Pictured: The floatation tank. 

In layman's terms, a sensory deprivation tank is a pod with a lid that's half-filled with water.

The water in the tank saturated with Epsom salt so when you enter the water you float, simulating the effects of the famous Dead Sea, and therefore have no awareness of gravity. The water is also heated to skin temperature, so you cannot feel it. Once the lid closes you are immersed in darkness, and the sound is cut off. 

You are deprived of all senses.

The first tank was designed in 1954 by American Neuroscientist John C. Lilly, who wanted to use the tank to study the origins of conscuousness. Since then, floatation pods have entered into more mainstream use and can even be purchased for home use. 

Andrea Luckhurst, who owns the Wellness centre alongside her husband Adrian, said: "When you're actually in the pod, you're floating on it, your body can't pick up on any of the senses, it's almost like rebooting a computer.

"In taking away all those things that completely fragment in your mind all the time, you quiet you mind down and get into that really deep restful state, that your either in when you're in a really deep sleep, or the state that people are striving for when they are meditating... In the pod, you're getting the highway to it."


Pictured: The floatation thank at the Wellness Centre. 

Various studies conducted since the 1970s have claimed that floatation therapy comes with a whole range of benefits. 

For instance, certain studies have shown that the use of the floatation tank can increase originality, imagination and intuition; the ingredients of creativity. There is also evidence that sensory deprivation can improve focus and concentration, can speed up recover after intense physical activity.

Other studies have claimed that the tank can help to treat the symptoms of anxiety, reduce stress levels and improve sleep quality. It has also been demonstrated to ease headaches and muscle pain. 

Video: How the 'Float Spa' works.

However, Andrea was keen to point out that instant success was not guaranteed.

"It's just about getting your own time. I think some people come in stressed and think I can just hop in the pod and it's gonna be amazing. Your mind is not in the right gear That isn't going to work necessarily. Of course it's very relaxing to just lie there, but to get into that really restful state, you almost have to approach it like meditation, you have to go in and try to relax.

"In fairness, when I go in, I normally fall asleep."

People most commonly enter the tank for an hour. However, Andrea has seen people take a spin in the float spa for up to two hours. People with claustrohobia, who might be uncomfortable in the relatively confined space of the floatation tank, have the option to undergo the therapy with the lid off.

This article first featured on Bailiwick Wellbeing newsletter, your free guide to wellness in work and island life to help you start the weekend - and week ahead - in the right way. Sign up now here.

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