I Tried Float Tank-ing My Stress Away—And Here's What Happened

Just keep floating!
By Raleigh Burgan Feb 05, 2016 12:11 AMTags
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Awards season is well underway, and New York Fashion Week is just around the corner. If that doesn't stress you out, tax season is upon us.

So, how do A-listers like Susan Sarandon and pro-athletes unwind? By floating.

Yes, you read right. And, no, it's not what you think. Float tanks are generously-sized chambers with about 1,000 pounds of salt in about 10 inches of water. The point is to deprive yourself of all senses: You can't see (it's pitch black inside), you can't hear (you wear earplugs) and you can't touch anything (except for the chamber walls). Why would anyone ever want to do this? Good question.

Float-tank advocates believe in the meditative and physical benefits: One being that it literally forces you to be in the moment, which helps you fall into an introspective state (read: It's super relaxing, and your brain will thank you). The second being that it can relieve stress—it may improve symptoms of anxiety, depression and insomnia. The third being that it lowers your heart rate, removes the stress you put on your muscles each day and the giant tank of Epsom salts is basically good for your whole body. Long story short, I had to try it myself. 

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So, here goes my experience visiting Float Lab in Westwood, Calif., which I would absolutely recommend you visiting if you're in the area:

11 a.m.: I arrive. Rode the elevator down to the basement and when the doors opened, I was transported into a soothing dark oasis with crystal chandeliers. Can you say vampire glam?

11:15 a.m.: It's time to hop in my chamber. I'm pleasantly surprised by the facilities—you get your very own room with a bright, well-tiled shower. You do a super quick rinse in the shower then you can head on inside. Note: The door to my tank was dark blue. Any color expert can tell you blue means confidence and that's what I was feeling—super confident. *Opens chamber door and gets in*

11:17 a.m.: OK, feeling a little less confident. Not because I feel unsafe or scared, just because I literally cannot turn my mind off.

Probably 11:20 a.m.: At this point, time is now irrelevant, and I've started really getting into it. I'm floating like a champ.

Maybe 11:21 a.m.: I got this. I got this. I got this.

Potentially 11:22 a.m.: I don't got this. I don't got this. I don't got this. Go away thoughts!

It could be 11:30 a.m.: My thoughts have completely vanished.

Let's say it's 11:45 a.m.: Am I on drugs? Cue The Beatles. Kaleidoscope-like visions have completely taken over. Pretty sure I'm hallucinating. Are my eyes closed or open? So many questions, but I really don't care to answer them. 

Assuming it's 11:55 a.m.: Now I'm feeling as if I had jumped in a pile of Jell-O. My limbs are too heavy to move, and my thoughts are also now very surface level… "What will I have for lunch?" I can say though, any anxiety I had about work is completely gone. It's as if the tank is a void, and my stressful thoughts are not allowed in.

With considerable certainty, I think it's noon at this point: OK, is it just me or is my sex drive particularly amped up right now? That sentence is rhetorical. It is just you, but you are definitely feeling pretty good right about now.

12:15 p.m.: There's a knock on my chamber's door and that means it's time to get out. Sitting up is more difficult than you'd think. I take a big dive into one of the tank's walls. After 30 more seconds of blindly feeling around for the door, I find it!


Overall, the experience was pretty great. Inside the tank, I could feel some stress in my joints (mostly in my knees, wrists and upper back), but now that I'm outside all those areas feel like a million bucks. I have zero stress in my back, which is pretty miraculous considering I've never felt this way coming from any massage (and the only reason I get massages is to feel this way). Even though inside the tank I wasn't thinking on any kind of deeper level, I'm now realizing how influenced we are by others thoughts and actions. Any and all, concerns I had vanished and reassured me to just believe in what I'm doing despite what I'm hearing from others.

Moral of the story: I would absolutely recommend anyone and everyone to try this at least once. I am now a firm believer, and if you're having any doubts in yourself or your work, I say "just keep floating."