For many people, one of the first concerns about floating is whether they will feel claustrophobic in a float tank.
However, it is almost unanimously reported that once you are in the tank, you feel as though you are in a very large, even infinite, space.
But if you suffer from intense claustrophobia, and still want to experience the many health benefits of floating, there are ways you can manage this fear.
Claustrophobia is not feeling a little uncomfortable in tight spaces.
It is an intense fear of being enclosed with no escape.
Sufferers of claustrophobia may have panic attacks in any type of restrictive environment, such as an elevator, an airplane, or even a room in which the windows can’t be opened.
A float chamber is an enclosed pool, large enough for a human adult to float very comfortable, but not large enough for tons of movement.
Think of a tanning bed, but deep enough to allow for a pool of water, and you have the general idea of how large a float chamber typically is.
You can see how this may be a problem for someone with intense claustrophobia.
How to Overcome Claustrophobia while Floating: Our 5 Best Tips
1. Breathing Exercises: For many fears, simply taking the time to breathe can be all that you need to overcome the intense “fight or flight” instinct that arises when a trigger is experienced.
Try breathing slowly and deeply, following a counting pattern of seven on each inhale, seven as you hold your breath, and eight on each exhale.
This is a common pattern used for relaxation in many guided meditation and guided sleep therapies.
2. Magnesium Supplements: Magnesium is a mineral that every organ in your body needs, but is particularly helpful for maintaining a normal heart rhythm.
The good news is that floating can actually help you overcome your fear of floating, because you will be floating in a solution of magnesium sulfate – also known as Epsom salt.
3. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: CBT is a treatment offered by therapists, who will encourage patients to make changes in their behavior in order to overcome their fears.
The idea is that by changing the way you behave when faced with your fear, you can eventually change the way you think about the fear overall.
4. Desensitization: Desensitization is a common practice wherein someone with a phobia exposes themselves to their fear in short increments that slowly increase over time.
If you suffer from claustrophobia, a float spa may be able to offer you a safe and effective way to face your fear.
5. Meditation and Visualization Exercises: Finally, meditation and visualization are two very popular methods for managing a phobia.
Floating is very suited for meditation, because it gives you the safe and quiet space you need to reflect in your own way.
Visualizing yourself in a larger space, and reflecting on the root causes of your phobia, are two ways that you can manage claustrophobia when floating.
How might Claustrophobia Inhibit ones Experience of Float Therapy?
Claustrophobia is a common fear that people all over the world suffer from. But did you know it is actually a form of anxiety? Claustrophobia is known to be an irrational fear of tight, enclosed spaces. Triggers of this fear might be brought on by being in a small enclosure such as a closet or plane. However, some may encounter claustrophobia while doing typical activities like riding in an elevator or sitting in an office without windows. This fear can cause people to totally change they way they go about every day life. They might do whatever they can to avoid possible triggers such as taking the stairs so as not to have to ride the elevator. It might even cause them to miss out on activities they would otherwise enjoy.
Medical News Today states that symptoms of claustrophobia vary from person to person. While some might only experience twinges of fear, others might reach a state of panic. Common symptoms might include sweating and chills, dry mouth, shaking, hyperventilation, disorientation, and even nausea.
Although float therapy is intended to promote relaxation, those that suffer from claustrophobia may worry they will experience the opposite effect. If they fear the feeling of being trapped in an enclosed space, the float tank may seem uncomfortable and unappealing. This apprehension can cause them to avoid utilizing this process altogether.
Increased Understanding Can Reduce Fear of the Unknown
If you feel that this type of therapy would be beneficial to your overall health but are hesitant due to claustrophobia, there are steps you can take to reduce this fear. Knowledge and understanding is often the solution to many deep-rooted fears. For example, many people fear flying because of the lack of control involved with the experience. This is often brought on by not truly understanding how flying works or the safety precautions that are involved. The more they learn and understand the actual act of flying, they less likely they are to fear it. For many studying actual statistics and research depicting the safety of their aircraft, will allow them to realize that they don’t have anything to fear. The element of the unknown is removed, and they can go into a flight understanding what they are experiencing.
This is similar to how one might get over their fear of claustrophobia in association with float therapy. They can conduct research about the makeup of the tank itself and better understand how exactly the process works. Understanding the design of the float tank is essential to eliminating possible fears. Unlike some might believe, they have the option of getting out of the float tank whenever they like. There is a door on the inside of the tank, allowing access to the outside world whenever the floater wishes to return to it. A floater will of course not be required to remain in the tank if at any point they feel uncomfortable and wish to leave. The float tank is also not airtight. Therefore, there is no reason for them to fear not being able to breathe properly.
If one fears total separation from the outside world, they might consider keeping the door opened while they begin the process of float therapy. This will allow them to stay grounded and remind them that they are capable of getting out of the tank whenever they please. Most float tanks also include lights that can be turned on by the person inside. Flipping on the lights whenever you feel claustrophobia sinking in can stop the fear in its tracks. Like with many new experiences, the more one engages in float therapy, the more likely they are to become more comfortable with it.
Ways to Exterminate Claustrophobia Altogether
Those that suffer severely from the fear of claustrophobia may choose to undergo more drastic means to eliminate it. They might turn to a psychologist who can help them better understand the root cause of their fear and how to handle it. Cognitive behavioral therapy is a common way psychologists might work to retrain their patient’s mind. During this process the patient would likely be exposed to the sort of situations they fear for short increments of time. Facing the fear head on can allow for these sorts of situations to seem less threatening.
Observing others can also serve as a great way to overcome fear, particularly in the case of claustrophobia. If you feel threatened by the practice of float therapy, you might consider watching someone else experience it. Watching someone else calmly encounter the source of your fear can provide reassurance. If you are uncomfortable, take a friend along for your first float therapy session and allow them to go first. When you see your friend emerge from the tank safely and in a state of relaxation, you will likely be more comfortable trying it out for yourself.
Before you get into the tank, think about how you will cope with your fear if it does arise. Remind yourself that the procedure is perfectly safe and that any fears associated with it are irrational. While engaging in float therapy, try to visualize positive outcomes. Consider how relaxed and rejuvenated you will likely feel when completing the process. Visually imagine yourself leaving the tank in a better state of mental and physical wellbeing. If the fear does come, don’t allow panic to take over. Breathe slowly, counting each breath as it goes in and out. This will allow you to stay grounded and keep the fear at bay. Repeatedly remind yourself that any fear you are experiencing is not real and that the negative thoughts will pass.
If claustrophobia is something you experience on a regular basis, you might want to look into longer-term solutions. Today there are a plethora of resources to assist with fear of this nature, and no one should have to deal with being constantly plagued by it. Although getting rid of claustrophobia may take time, it is well worth trying. Learning ways to manage this fear can dramatically increase ones quality of life by reducing the stress it causes. Do not allow claustrophobia to hold you back from trying new things. Turn to management resources today to take back your life.
What is Float Therapy?
Float therapy is a tool used to enhance relaxation and relieve stress and anxiety.
Float therapy professionals claim the health benefits of the experience actually grow with each use. The process of float therapy takes places in a light and soundproof tank that is filled with sterile water. Although the concept of float therapy may seem bizarre to some, it has actually been going on for many years and is just now gaining popularity.
Hope Floats USA states that he tank itself resembles the appearance of a space capsule. In fact, the floating sensation one undergoes while in the water, has been compared to what many would imagine floating in space to feel like. The interior of the tank is actually quite spacious, not constricting as many may fear. The water within the tank is typically filled with Epson salts, which improve skin health and allow for relaxation. It is called the ultimate escape because it separates you from the real world and allows you to take a break in a private and peaceful space. Sometimes called a “sensory deprivation chamber” the float tank allows for the brain to rest from stimulation.
Consider how much stimuli you encounter on a day-to-day basis. The onslaught of the senses begins first thing in the morning as soon as your alarm goes off. You are bombarded with noise all around you. This might be from music, the radio, TV, the phone, or even the devices you utilize to conduct work. In a world where technology plays such a heavy role in our everyday life, it can be difficult to turn the stimulation off. This is problematic because the constant attack on the senses tires and distracts the brain, making it harder to focus completely on one task. This can also lead to sleep deprivation due to the brain being unable to shut down and prepare for rest. Even while we think we are in a quiet environment, we are still often surrounded with background noise. Though we might not be completely aware of this stimulation, our brains are still taking in and processing all of these distractions.
What Mental and Physical Benefits can Float Therapy Possess?
True Best Float Spa states that Float therapy is intended to allow a person to return to center and take a break from the constant stimuli of their lives. With the sound proof tank, all outside noise and light is cut off. The person will likely find it easier to think and reach a point of focus and relaxation. While a typical floating session usually lasts about an hour, those who are new to floating might be more comfortable starting out with shorter increments of time. Many people might choose to engage in practices such as mediation during this time to aid in their process towards mental clarity. Do you find it difficult to concentrate on one task at a time? Maybe you can’t focus on reading a book the way you once could. A probable cause of this is an increased dependence on stimulation. When we are constantly surrounded by stimulation, it can become unsettling to be without it. Many people might even sleep with background noise such as a TV show playing, due to their unwillingness to experience total silence and release from stimulation. This dependency can become extremely mentally unhealthy, due to the inability to ever become totally relaxed. It might become difficult to develop a healthy sleep pattern, which in turn leads to increased agitation throughout the day. Many people who feel swamped with this overstimulation, may consider turning to float therapy as an escape. Though the silence may seem foreign at first, the benefits are immeasurable.
Mental ailments such as PTSD, anxiety, and depression can actually be reduced through the practice of float therapy. Many people often report feeling an increase in creativity, and enhanced sensory acuity. Because of this effect, float therapy has become a popular practice with many athletes. An athlete must be skilled at their ability to cut out distractions, as they will be expected to perform while surrounded by them. Imagine trying to focus while surrounded in the noise of a cheering crowd, with action occurring all around you. Many might find the pressure unbearable. Not only are athletes who are undergoing float therapy likely seeking pain relief for sore muscles, but also an increase in their ability to focus.
Not only are the sessions said to be beneficial to the brain, but they can have numerous physical health advantages as well. Due to the relaxed mental sensation brought on by the tank, ones blood pressure will lower allowing for better blood flow. This practice can also improve other conditions such as insomnia, swelling due to injury, chronic pain and even jet lag. The process of lactic acid removal can be quickened and natural endorphins, which increase feelings of joy and contentment, are released.
Another physical advantage of floatation therapy is the posture required. Consider someone who is suffering from physical ailments causing them tremendous pain. They would likely be confined to bed rest to allow for their body to recover and heal. The disadvantage of bed rest is that the body is forced to remain in the same position. They might not be able to adjust their body to become more comfortable, and allow for greater blood flow. This can unfortunately lead to other issues such as bedsores.
In the case of float therapy, the person floating will not feel the urge to adjust to a more comfortable position and can remain immobile for a much longer period of time. The temperature of the water allows the blood vessels to dilate, increasing blood flow.
Unfortunately, many people who might benefit from float therapy choose not to give it a try due to a fear of claustrophobia.