Not long ago I found myself in serious need of relaxation. I have three kids who are out of school for the summer, so it doesn’t take much to get to that point. My usual go-to is grabbing a moment to read alone in the bathroom—or a massage, if I’m really lucky. Happily, I faced some free time and a little extra money, so I thought I’d splurge and treat myself to a bit of peace and quiet.
I love a good massage, but its effects can be short-lived. Wanting something that might last a little longer, I decided to relax outside-the-box. That right there doesn’t sound relaxing, but the results were nothing short of spectacular.
First up: acupuncture. This method of relaxation is effective in treating anxiety, insomnia, stress and a host of other conditions. Bingo!
I started out my appointment with some hesitation. After all, it’s not often that one can muster excitement about getting poked with needles. Luckily, I found out that thinner needles are used for a relaxation session, and they’re not placed as deep. The needles were inserted in places that correspond with various treatment points on my body. I was then given a little bell to ring for assistance and left to rest in peace for 25 minutes. I loved every minute and drifted into a half-awake/half-asleep state of relaxation.
Next stop: hypnosis. I set up an appointment with Harmony Hypnosis, which treats a host of maladies, including stress and anxiety. I had no idea what to expect as I’d never been hypnotized before and had visions of clucking like a chicken. I couldn’t have been more wrong. With therapeutic hypnosis, in most cases you won’t even talk during the hypnosis session—it’s more like a guided visualization exercise.
After chatting for a while, the hypnotist put headphones on me and reclined my seat, which turned out to be a serious vibration chair. It was distracting at first to feel the left side of my back vibrate, then my right, but I eventually became accustomed to the sensation. The alternating vibrations are said to help your brain waves modulate across your mid-line, deepening the experience. The hypnotist then spoke to me through the headphones, while spa-like music played in the background.
About 10 minutes later the chair was turned off, and I was counted out of my trance-like state. Only it wasn’t 10 minutes. It was 28. And I was buzzing. The tightness in my chest was gone, and that peace lasted the rest of the day. I also came home with a digital recording of the session so I can revisit that state of mind whenever I want.
Final experience: floating. I chose to float in a saltwater pod with Liquid Float Center. The premise is that floating produces slower brain wave patterns, which are normally experienced only during deep meditation or briefly before falling asleep. Floating is used to treat stress, anxiety, depression and fatigue. Perfect! The only potential problem I could see is that I can’t float—never have been able to. Luckily for me, the pods contain 1,000 pounds of Epsom salts mixed into 10-inch deep water. Put me in that water, and I bob to the top like a cork!
The crazy thing is that I absolutely fell asleep several times during my float. My mind felt awake and was having thoughts, but my body was so calm that it just drifted off to sleep. Apparently, it’s a zero gravity float thing. And it’s a good feeling to get that relaxed.
I’m so glad I tried something other than the standard massage, although I won’t be swearing off massages completely. Nor my sneaky bathroom reads. Turns out there are many more ways to relax, and they’re definitely worth trying.
Alison Bogle is an Austin-based writer and mom of three who blogs about Type A parenting and more.