It is easy to take our health for granted, until we get sick. Getting healthy comes to the forefront on our mind and it’s all we can think about to get well, to get back on our feet, and to function “normally.” Whether recovering from the simple common cold or something more complex like a surgical procedure, an autoimmune disorder, a stroke, heart attack or cancer, your state of both mind and body is invariably altered. As an unintended and often invisible consequence, those closest to the sick and injured, the caregiver(s), often suffer vicarious and secondary stress and anxiety. Oftentimes, these helpers do not recognize that they need practice self-care and participate in restorative activities on a regular basis.
When you are sick, injured or limited in some way, it is normal to have frustrations; to sometimes have a short fuse or to speak without a filter when the emotions take a toll. But when you are tossing and turning in pain or wrestling with your emotions and frustrations, so is your spouse, your roommate, your family member. It is not always easy for the caregiver to express the stress of caregiving.
The above sentiment rings true for those in the medical and alternative medical and mental health fields. Health care practitioners are especially susceptible to secondary (and chronic) stress and anxiety disorders, based on the fact that they are in direct contact with physical and emotional suffering day after day. In a world that demands constant productivity and results, caregivers and healthcare providers alike often do not recognize the very same signs of chronic stress for which they are counseling others.
A highly effective strategy for caregivers to combat their vicarious stress, pain, anxiety, sleep and illness is to spend self-care time in a float tank. Floatation therapy or floating does not involve a therapist. Instead, one is in their own private room with a shower and a fiberglass tank (typically with a lid or door that opens and closes), which holds 10” of skin temperature (94 degree) water of which 1000 pounds of epsom salt has been dissolved. As a result, you are effortlessly buoyant, floating face up for an hour. The senses can be modified by being in darkness or light, and have ambient music or silence. This hour long experience results in a refreshing reset for the brain, much like a restful sleep, with mind and body results lasting for days and sometimes weeks.
Health care practitioners are beginning to discover the benefits of floating. Not only are they recommending floating to their patients and clients, but they are also taking advantage of the serial mind and body benefits for themselves. The immediacy and positive impact of floating is a true win-win for both those with illness and limitations, as well as for their caregivers. Find out it is right for you and your practice.
The author, Dr. David Berv, is a certified chiropractic sports physician, acupuncture diplomate. He is a co-owner of The Float Zone, and can be reached at david@myfloatzone. To read other posts about floating visit our blog page.