anxiety

The Anxiety Podcast: Climbing The Anxiety Mountain & Floating Away

Hosted by Tim JP Collins, The Anxiety Podcast is a show to support everyone suffering with Anxiety, stress and panic attacks. Tim suffered with Anxiety and panic attacks and has changed his life to recover and now supports others in doing the same.

This unique show isn't just about coping, it's about moving past Anxiety and fear to live the life you were destined for. Each week Tim interviews people that have stories that you will be able to relate to.

The interviews are raw, real and vulnerable and people share what's really going on for them. Each week Tim will also share a personal story, skill or coping strategy for you to put into practice right away! 

In Episode #108 of The Anxiety Podcast our very own cofounder, Shane Stott, shares about his own personal struggle with anxiety and what he did to move past it.  He also talks about his journey and how he started a float tank business after finding it so beneficial. 

 

In this particular episode you will learn:

- How Shane drank heavily and due to that and lack of sleep began having panic attacks

- How Shane went to the church of scientology when he was desperate for help

- How guided meditation was very useful for Shane in terms of overcoming anxiety

- What Shane's experience was like trying to get off of his medication

- How Shane got involved in his family business and then started his float tank business

- How after putting float tanks online he got a following from others looking to build float tanks at home

- What a float tank does for people with anxiety

- We discuss how anxiety still shows up for us today

Listen to the full interview to hear all the details!

 

 

Do you struggle with anxiety and/or have a positive experiencing using floatation therapy? We would love hear from you in the comments below!

 

An Inspiring Story About Using Float Therapy to Overcome Writer's Block

Imagine a noisy classroom. The bell just rang as the students rush to their seats. It's a Monday morning so the kids have a lot to chatter about.

Today the teacher decides to play a little experiment. She puts on a calm, meditative audio in the mist of all the chatter and she asks herself, "how long will it take for them to hear the music?" 

Minutes go by and she watches the the evolution of the classroom chatter. You'd think the chatter would stop and the students would realize something different but to her surprise, they still don't amp down the chatter even ten minutes after the start of class.

As the minutes pass, some of the students closer to the speakers start to expend their built up energy and suddenly notice the calming music playing from the speakers. Unfamiliar to the students, the sound sounds interesting, foreign and undeniably therapeutic. One by one the students nudge each other and direct their classmates attention to the sounds. As each student tunes in, the once non-existent sound begins to crescendo into a loud harmonizing wave of peace.

She begins class and notices that those ten minutes of calmness led to a more productive hour lecture. The students she finds were more attentive and responded in a more center way, instead of their usual sporadic ways. 

Now imagine this classroom represents your mind. The students represent our daily mental chatter that often stops us from observing our surroundings more fully, each conversation distracting us from the peace that dwells within. The soothing nature of floating in a warm silent floatation tank can be related to the teacher who is trying to bring the classrooms attention to this wave of bliss.

You may be thinking, could one hour of my day lead to more production and energy for the next 15 hours you spend awake? From my experience, the answer is 100% yes.

At the time when I first decided to float, I was a 19 years old with years of anxiety. I was always very gifted in the creative arts but a string of life set backs had me with a lot of questions that I looked to my mind to solve.

During this period, it was very hard for me to come up with new lyrics, it was like the chatter within kept me from tapping into my creative source. I decided to try out floating and was lucky enough to get free float time for handing out flyers down the city blocks for an amazing float center named Halcyon Floats located in Philadelphia.

I floated in the tank for about 90 minutes but didn't really get settled until 60 minutes in. At that point I found myself hugging the warmness of the experience and basking in the space, very much in the moment. After hearing the music underwater, I said to myself, "was this really worth it?".

The moment I opened the door and stepped into the shower it was clear to me it was worth every second.

I noticed a fluid stream of observance emanating from my being and a calmness that rivaled nothing else. My heart felt lighter and my motions synched well with this feeling I had. After getting dressed, I went to the counter to talk to the owner of the center and noticed my anxiety levels dropped exponentially, something that no previous forms of therapy seemed to manage.

Now, here's the icing on the cake. As I drove back home calm and relaxed, in my mind I began to free verse and came up with a new song concepts and lyrics! This one session seemed to have a lasting after glow that stabilized my psyche for the rest of the work week. 

If had to sum up my experience in one sentence it would be, "Quiet down the classroom and tune into the the music in the background". 

Floating Research and The Impact On Our Mental Health with Justin Feinstein

We had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Justin Feinstein, Director of the Float Clinic and Research Center (FCRC) at the Laureate Institute for Brain Research. The FCRC’s mission is to investigate the effects of floatation on both the body and the brain, as well as explore its potential as a therapeutic treatment for promoting mental health and healing in patients who suffer from conditions such as anxiety, addiction, and anorexia.


In our interview, Justin tells us how he first heard about float tanks and shares some of his research and insight on how floating can help alleviate stress and anxiety.

 

Q: How did you first hear about floating?

A: I was working at a neuroscience laboratory at Caltech. This serendipitously happens to be the same place that John C. Lilly went for his undergraduate degree about 75 years before I was there. But basically, for the last 15 years I had studied neuroscience and I’d been very interested in consciousness and very interested in subjective emotion and feeling states. But in particular I’ve been focused on anxiety, both for personal reasons and my career, with an eye towards how we can alleviate anxiety.

When I was in the lab at Caltech working with patients, one of the research assistants who shared an office with me at the time, came to me on a Monday and over the weekend she had just had her first float. At the time I had never even heard of what a float tank was. She preceded to tell me over the next several hours with great drama how intense and powerful this first float was for her. I listened with great curiosity because she had been describing something I had been interested in almost my entire life.

What she was describing to me was what’s known in our field as interoception. The idea is how to access what’s happening in our inner body. It really brings to bare the idea that inside all of us is a pathway into our brain that provides signals about the internal milieu of our body. It provides signals about the heart beating, the blood pulsating, your lungs and respiration, it provides signals about the immune system and it provides signals from the gut. And all these various signals come into the brain through a dedicated pathway. This interoceptive pathway had been my focus of research for many years dating back to the early 2000’s.

When she was describing her first float to me it became clear to me, even though she didn’t use those words, that what she was accessing was her interoceptive self. What was really interesting to me is that at the same time I was hearing this story I was learning about the primary disruption to this same pathway in patients who suffered from anxiety disorder. There’s something about this interoceptive pathway that’s critical for anxiety, it seems to be dysregulated in anxiety disorders. When you float, it provides a sneak peak into this pathway in a way that you could never access outside of a float.

She continued to describe how liberated she felt after her first float and I was to be honest, both scared and fascinated. The fascination because of everything I just talked about but the fear because I knew I had to try this.
 

Q: How did you feel after your first float?

A: I think a lot of my first float was pure novelty. Everything was new…. from the sensation of no gravity–to being able to feel my heart beating in such an intense way–to letting my physiological systems come down to an all time low. I definitely felt relaxed but at the same time had my mind turning. As soon as I stepped out of the float tank, the first thing I wanted to do is figure out how I could buy one of these to start doing research with it.

 

Q: How did you transition into actually doing research on floating?

A: It wasn’t until my second or third float that I achieved a state of pure sensory awareness, unlike anything I’d ever obtained before meditating outside of the float tank. At that moment in the tank I felt total bliss and it was really with moments like these, and repeated moments like these, that I realized how powerful this environment is. I knew I needed to pursue floating as a line of research.

I was able to team up with my original mentor from when I was a freshman in college at UCSD named Dr. Martin Paulus. Together, we did a lot of work during my time at UCSD and one area we had a lot of success with was studying the concept of interoception.

Around the same time that I was discovering floating as technique, Dr. Paulus had been offered the position as the scientific director of this institute that had recently opened in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I was collaborating with him on a project I was working on at Caltech and was visiting him in San Diego when I mentioned some of my experiences using float tanks. He started talking to me about this opportunity at LIBR and it was over the course of that week that we put our heads together and realized how ideal this situation was for a few reasons. We were able to reconnect and reunite after a decade of not working together, we had the opportunity to pursue a novel line of research that no one else in the neuroscience community has focused on, and better than that, we knew that the core mission for LIBR was to think outside of the box to come up with brand new novel treatments for mental illness.  In this case, we actually went inside the box because we decided to pursue floating as a treatment. I can’t emphasize how serendipitous all of this was.

Pictured third from the right is Dr. Justin Feinstein and his team of LIBR researchers

Q: Why do you think floatation therapy alleviates the negative symptoms of stress?

A: I think there are several reasons but two in particular. First off, our brain is wired in such a way to be reflexively triggered by the outer world. We’re living in the midst of an anxiety epidemic and a lot of this is driven by our technology. Smartphones in particular have taken off in such a way that almost every culture and every country has these now. It gives us instant connectivity and it provides us with a slew of conveniences that we never used to have.

What our society doesn’t realize though is that every time we get pinged with a new text message, or a new email, or a new phone call or every time we get some update on our Facebook or Twitter, it’s setting off a cascade of events in our brain that creates a state of temporary stress.

We become addicted to this, to a point where we aren’t able to leave our phones behind us or disconnect from them in any way, shape or form. It’s affecting our sleep patterns. It’s affecting our ability to socialize and our ability to communicate in the real world rather than the virtual world. It’s affecting us because people are now living in a constant state of connectivity.

So, one of the reasons I think floating helps stress is because it's the ultimate form of disconnection. It allows your brain to literally go into a state of rest without having any distractions whatsoever from the external world.

The second thing is that stress isn’t just in the brain. It’s physiological, it's through the entire body. One of the most strong and powerful results of the past research into floating is the profound physiological effects that floating has on the body.

We’ve created equipment here at LIBR to study this. We have devices to measure things like blood pressure, heart rate, respiration, EEG, movement, and what we’re finding across all of these measures is that you are entering into a state of absolute relaxation. Your blood pressure is going way down, your respiration is going way down, your heart rate is going down. So you’re really entering into a physiological state of relaxation, which is the exact opposite of the state of stress. Floating doesn’t only affect the brain.  It has profound effects on the body as well.
 

Q: In your professional opinion, what would be the benefits of being able to float at home?

A: It would certainly provide that access (to floating) that a lot of people are missing. Having the ability to float at home is so beneficial, especially for clinical populations who can do this on a regular basis. It can help them better control their symptoms and also help them achieve the relief and benefits that they really need.

 

In summary, the future of floating is bright. We find it very encouraging that research both old and new are focusing on the idea of float therapy as a treatment not only on stress and anxiety, but also for overall health and wellness.  We also look forward to Dr. Feinstein’s research, more of which he will present at the yearly Float Conference.

 

 

National Stress Awareness Month

Whew! Hello, April. Who else feels like this year is moving by too fast?

One thing about April though is it sure gives you a lot to look forward to; Easter celebrations, spring weather, and longer days of sunlight. Most importantly, April is also National Stress Awareness Month! Yep, a whole month dedicated to stress-awareness and taking time for yourself. Pretty awesome, right?  

To honor National Stress Awareness Month throughout the month of April we will be sharing some fun facts about stress and advice for dealing with it. One of the top reasons that so many people out there love to float is because it helps them with stress-relief and anxiety but we'll dive more into all of that later.  

For now, here are 5 interesting facts about stress that you probably didn't know:

1. Men are more likely to develop stress-related disorders.

This stems from the fact that typically women are better at handling emotional problems. Men have a higher chance of developing a disorder as a result of too much stress. These disorders include hypertension, aggressive behavior, and abuse of drugs and alcohol.

2. Your pupils dilate during extremely stressful situations.

This is similar to how your pupils dilate when you see someone you’re attracted to. The dilation is caused by a natural reaction of your body trying to gather more information about a situation.

3. Stress can cause hair loss.

Extremely stressful events can cause hair loss.  This is a slow process that will happen over the process of a few months known as telogen effluvium.

4. Thinking about stress relief can cause actual stress relief.

Ever heard the saying that all the power is in your mind? Same thing relates to stress. By positive thinking, affirmations, and visual fantasies, you can lower your stress levels. Because stress is often caused by overthinking, changing your thoughts can lead to instant relaxation.

5. Stress alters the neurochemical makeup of the body.  

Stress is the cause of 30% of all infertility problems. With women, it affects the maturation and release of the human egg. It can also cause spasms in the fallopian tubs and uterus, affecting implantation. As far as men, go too much stress affects sperm count.  

 

This month we'll go over some more facts like this, learn more about two types of stress, how to cope with it, and how to use floating for the ultimate stress-relief. There are lots of healthy and easy ways to manage stress, it's just important to take the time for yourself.