And We All Float On… a Travel RN’s Stress Reliever - The Gypsy Nurse

By Andrew Ferguson

August 10, 2018

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And We All Float On… a Travel RN’s Stress Reliever

Earlier this month I wrote an article on how to help a travel nurse decompress from the stressors of the road, and rejuvenate themselves for the next shift. That description may give it a little more credit than it deserves, because it was really just about this time we went to a hot spring and how awesome it was. So, for this article I’ve left all pre-tense behind, and will just be straight about the contents. It’s about this time we floated in a float tank, and how awesome it was.

What I’m referring to as a float tank is also called a sensory deprivation tank, an isolation tank, or a sensory attenuation tank. Basically, it’s a lightless, soundproof tank, filled with 6-12 inches of body temperature water, and between 500 and 800 pounds of magnesium sulphate (Epsom salt). The large amount of salt makes it possible for anyone to float without effort, giving you the feeling of weightlessness. This, along with the water temperature, and the design of the tank, limit any sensory input.

The result is a relaxing, ultra-quiet experience, that takes a little getting used to, but is worth the effort. Floatation tanks, while still growing in popularity, have been around since the early fifties. There benefits have been touted by everyone from the late theoretical physicist Richard Feyman, to the popular comic and podcaster, Joe Rogan. While the jury is still out on some of the beneficial claims made by the proponents of these tanks, there is ample evidence that they are a useful tool for stress management. This why it’s relevant to the travel nurse community. Plus, it’s kind of cool trying to find one close to where your current assignment is.

And We All Float On… a Travel RN’s Stress RelieverWe got lucky, and found one in the city where my wife is working. The next closes one is a five-hour drive through the Rocky Mountains. I set up a morning appointment for me and my wife. Since we have a three-year-old, we had to take turns floating, with me being the designated Guinea pig. We paid $120 for two-two and a half hour sessions, so it was $60 apiece. They offered one hour sessions for $40. Prices vary from town to town, but $60-$70 for an hour seems to be average.

Each tank is in its own room, with a shower right in front of the float tank door, and a changing area. All the amenities, such as lotion, shampoo, body wash, towels, and the like, are provided. This was our first, and so far, only time at a floatation facility, so I’m sure there are different set ups. When I was doing research for this article, I ran across one in L.A that has a small pool in the middle of a room. The room itself is sound, and lightproof. It didn’t open until after midnight, and closed before sun up. Even though there is some variety in the set and settings involved, the basic premise remains the same-float, and relax.

Our experience was awesome. I acclimated quickly to the environment inside the tank. My wife was a little freaked out at first, but ended up getting more out of the experience than I did. I really enjoyed it, but couldn’t help but play around with the weightless effects, and I had to get out once for a restroom break. After my wife’s initial trepidation, she settled in and had a relaxing experience. It helped her to eliminate some of the stress she was feeling from all the overtime she’d worked. She also got some relief from her sore back, which is something she’s always dealing with.

It was cool, and something we will definitely be doing again. It’s a real blessing-all the experiences we have out here on the road, doing that travel nurse thing. Maybe that’s the real story here. Float tanks are great, and I highly recommend trying one, but they’re just a tiny part of the vast universe of adventures that await those who take the chance. Good luck, and travel on.

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