stress

3 Steps To Take Back Control When You're Feeling Overwhelmed and Overloaded

Today’s world offers countless conveniences, but sometimes all they seem to do is create more distractions, more stress, and less time for what really matters. We are over-connected and overloaded. With just one click of a button I can find out what my best friend from seventh grade had for lunch or how my mom’s cousin is treating her son’s skateboarding injury.

The opportunity to connect with loved ones is wonderful. The distraction that too much information causes in our lives is beyond ridiculous.

In 2010, CEO of Google, Eric Schmidt, told crowds at Techonomy Conference that we create as much information in two days as we did from the dawn of man through 2003. The even scarier part is that rate is only accelerating.

Every day, it’s important to spend time working to intentionally shut out distractions so we can find peace of mind and focus on ourselves.  Here are some tips to get you started:

 

1. Have Confidence To Step Away From Your Devices

Because of cell phones and tablets everyone you know—and most of the people you have ever known—have access to you in some way, no matter where you are. Do you realize how many potential distractions and stresses that can create?

Think about it: Every time you stop to check the latest notification, how long does it take you to get back into the focused zone you just abandoned? Do you find yourself getting up for a snack, deciding to check email, or starting an entirely new task?

After you get back from your break or work your way back into the zone, tally how much time you’re actually spending on that interruption—is it five, ten, fifteen minutes? Just to check your phone. Or answer a question that could have waited until the next meeting.

Intake overload is inescapable unless you have the confidence to step away from your devices and disappoint a few people.

 

2. Set “Office Hours” that your family, friends, coworkers, and clients can reach you at

It’s okay to not be available 24-hours a day.

Your smartphone should have a feature that allows you to either put your phone in a do not disturb mode (iPhone) or blocking mode (Android) to reduce the number of interruptions you receive via phone and text messaging. You can also select to turn off notifications from certain apps.

These options won’t work for every person, but it's highly recommend that you at least take advantage of this option for social networks. Do you really need to know right away if someone “likes” the picture of your dog? You can still find out this information, but if you turn off notifications, you’ll be checking your networks on your own time frame and not someone else’s. Give some thought to the kind of interruptions that are worth spending valuable time on every day.

 

3. Use your free time to Relax, Recharge, and Rejuvenate

Many people underestimate just how valuable relaxation is to their well-being. In many ways, our society has tabooed relaxation. Most Americans have a certain degree of guilt when it comes to doing nothing.

Many people underestimate just how valuable relaxation is to their well-being. In many ways, our society has tabooed relaxation. Most Americans have a certain degree of guilt when it comes to doing nothing.
— Shane Stott

We know days of doing nothing feel great. We know a weekend with no plans revives us. And we know a vacation can make us feel alive and happy in the face of high levels of stress. Yet nobody seems to make relaxation a priority.

To really put relaxation as a priority in your life, you need to first pay attention and realize just how valuable it is. Next time you relax, watch what it does to you and make a mental note. The next time you have a relaxing weekend, journal about it. The next time you're flying home from a trip, spend the flight contemplating how you feel and why.

Then put those observations into action and make a point to schedule relaxation into your day, your week, and your month. Rather than allowing yourself to run from one thing to the next, always saying yes and never determining what’s really best for you, make sure to intentionally schedule down time.



In conclusion, external demands and distractions are only as stressful as you allow them to be. Take control of your schedule and your time, and you will probably find that some of your peace of mind naturally returns.

 

Snippets of this blog post were taken from the The Float Tank Cure: Free Yourself of Stress, Anxiety, and Pain the Natural Way. Click here to claim your FREE copy today. *While supplies last!

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.

 

 

Floating and Pregnancy

sensory baby.jpg

Pregnancy can be gruelling on a woman’s body. For the bulk of nine months, they are dealing with nausea, weight gain, mood swings and all other sorts of things calculated to increase stress. Spending time floating can feel like heaven during pregnancy.

An isolation tank can be a blessing for a pregnant woman. Floating in warm saltwater can ease the daily stress of pregnancy. And it offers some specific benefits, including:

floating baby.jog
  • Stress release: Once inside the tank, the tension on muscles and nerves can melt away. This helps both mother and baby become calm. Some women can actually use this experience to help their baby kick and roll around with reduced frequency. 

  • Taking weight strain away: Floating is offers a semi-weightless environment. A pregnant woman can find relief from the strain and weight of carrying a baby. 

  • Relaxation: Pregnancy can make it hard to get a good night’s sleep and can make the entire act sleeping uncomfortable. Floating lets a woman relaxing inside the isolation tank. The pain and pressure on her joints eases and she can feel as rejuvenated as she does with taking a quick nap.

  • Late stage pregnancy relief: The final trimester of a pregnancy is the worst for physical and emotional discomfort. At times, it just hurts for a pregnant women to be on her feet. And it also feels awful seeing an ever-growing belly each day. Floating can take away some of the pressure caused by the weight and help a woman get a better grasp on the emotional roller coaster she is experiencing.

Some pregnant women may be concerned about putting their baby’s health at risk if they spend time in an isolation tank. Research suggests floating is quite safe for the unborn fetus in most cases. There are exceptions to the rule. If you are in the first trimester of your pregnancy or have a high-risk pregnancy, you should consult with your doctor before floating.