My Hour In An Isolation Tank: Everything You Need To Know About Flotation Therapy

Editor in Chief Vicki Notaro spills the beans on exactly what you can expect.

I don’t know about you, but this past year or so has made me more insular. It’s not that I’m anti-social, I’m simply not used to being around other people or making small talk, and I’m downright afraid to touch a stranger or be touched. So when I heard about flotation therapy, I was very intrigued because it’s a no-touch process.

I love a message as much as the next gal, but there was something about a treatment that promised to relax me and soothe my body without having to interact with anybody that made it appealing.

I first heard about it from our influencer and former Stellar cover girl Dominique Nugent. After her breakup last year, she tried every kind of alternative therapy going to try and find some peace and she credited flotation therapy for helping her sleep. I don’t have trouble sleeping but I do have crazy dreams and I also suffer with anxiety and sometimes struggle to switch off. Plus, I’ve just started a new workout regime so my muscles are achy and stiff.

I went along to the new Drift Float Therapy facility in Stillorgan, Co Dublin. The owner, Rob, explained that flotation is an entirely private and personal experience. You go into your own room (with a door that locks) where you shed your clothes, shower, and control your own entry and exit from the flotation pod. It’s a birthday suit affair, but you can wear swimwear if that makes you feel more comfortable. More on that in a minute!

I brought my friend Laura as a control to the experiment – she’s into meditation and yoga, whereas I’m not. I find if I think about or focus on my breathing, it does the opposite of relaxing me! Rob suggested that to get the most out of the experience, we try the salt cave upstairs first.

This was music to my ears, as I suffer badly from chronic sinusitis and allergies and I’ve heard wonders about the therapeutic benefits of salt caves. I rinse my nasal passages with a saline solution whenever they’re inflamed or congested, so I was excited to essentially sit in a quiet room and breathe in medical-grade salt for 45 minutes!

We went in there fully clothed and just yapped until the time was up. Neither of us could believe we’d been in there that long! I felt the benefits immediately – my nose felt clear, smells were stronger and we were both pretty chill.

Next up, the immersion into the float pod. We went into separate rooms containing the individual pods and shower facilities. You lie with your head at the door of the pod, and you can adjust everything – whether the hatch is fully closed or not, whether or not you have the mood lighting on and if you want to use a head floatation device (like a pool float) or not. They play music to lull you at first, and then after about ten minutes, it’s just you.

I went through quite a process in there! First off, I felt very in touch with my body – naked as the day I was born, and floating on water infused with thousands of grams of Epsom salts it’s actually very womb-like. Even if you fell asleep in there, there’s no chance of sinking whatsoever, and the water is so buoyant, it’s actually an effort to even put your foot on the floor. You can if you want to though. You can also easily touch the walls, and all you have to do is press up if you want some fresh air or brightness.

It was completely bizarre just being so still and quiet, but sort of alert because you’re floating, not lying down. After a while, I turned off the mood lighting. It was then pitch black, which made me feel a little nervous and I did feel my heart beat faster. It was also a bit stuffy, so I opened the hatch to let in some fresh air, and switched back on the soft, coloured lights. I ended up leaving them on for the duration.

I didn’t lie completely still the entire time; I moved my legs and arms around, even floated on my front for a while with my face up. I did space out a bit, and almost felt like I was in a trance.

When the music came back on, I knew it was time to get out but I had NO idea how long I had been in there. I wasn’t prune-y because of the Epsom salts, and I somehow felt strangely invigorated while also relaxed – a feeling I’m not used to!

I’d definitely go back – if I’m suffering from prolonged periods of anxiety, or to the salt cave if I’m having an attack of sinusitis. It was weird and wonderful, definitely a treatment for our times.

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