Stress and anxiety easily nudge into adult life, so much so that sixteen percent of Americans admit to taking some kind of psychiatric drug. This has shifted the national mental health dialogue. While many Americans opt for traditional prescription medication—a multibillion dollar industry—others are seeking alternative treatment.
Float therapy is among the latest methods of self-care offering alternative routes to wellness. The concept is simple: lying inside a cave-like “pod,” a person floats weightlessly in a foot of warm, Epsom salt-infused water. It is a sensory deprivation setting with minimal light and sound. This, coupled with Epsom-induced muscle relaxation, is meant to help the user reach a deep meditative state. “Floating was originally created as a psychological tool, and the benefits in this category are endless,” says Mary Silver, founder of Silver Essence Floating Spa in Williamsville. “People are tired, sore, overworked, overwhelmed, and connected by devices most of their day—while floating, all of that can just melt away.”
Though developed by a psychiatrist in the early 1970s, float therapy does not just treat the mind. Epsom salts have been known to exfoliate the skin, prevent inflammation, and treat joint and muscle injuries. “As more and more people are drawn to floatation, the physical piece is being realized more than anyone imagined,” Silver said. “Every day, people are coming out with new physical benefits, and I think this has been a major part of floating going mainstream.”
In fact, it was a physical ailment that led Silver to open Silver Essence in 2010. She read about how floating healed a woman’s nagging back injury after years of frustrating trial-and-error. From there Silver got her parents hooked—then her husband, who is now building float rooms for customers around the continent. “That’s how I got here, but why I stay is this: every time a person comes around the corner after a float, looking younger and feeling better, I am hooked all over again.”