About Menopause - 4 minute read

Float (Menopause Symptoms) Away!

Let’s face it: in addition to the physical irritations and emotional turmoil we endure during the stages of menopause, the years-long process can be downright stressful! Experts agree that self-care during the menopause years can significantly relieve symptoms.

Full disclosure: I am not a person who is shy about taking time out for myself. Of course, it was harder when my now-grown sons were little, but over the past few years I have had very little trouble making plans to treat myself at a level that might even seem excessive to those who don’t have (or don’t take) the time. When it comes to anything on the self-care spectrum, I am more than happy to pencil in a date with myself on my calendar. I also consistently encourage my friends to fit “me time” into their lives as much as possible.

Why is self-care so important during menopause? In addition to making us physically uncomfortable in general, estrogen changes leave us susceptible to depression, stress, and feelings of helplessness. In fact, ask just about any woman who’s currently in one of the stages of menopause how it’s going and you might see rage, frustration, or sadness in her eyes before she begins a well-needed vent. Naturally self-care doesn’t make all of our problems go away, but I’m pretty sure nobody would dare argue against doing something that increases our comfort and tolerance level. It definitely can’t hurt!

The types of things that make us feel happier and recharged are as varied as we are, but one thing I discovered a couple of years ago to be effective for my own mental well-being is floating. Flotation therapy has been around since the 1970’s and involves stripping down and climbing into a dark tank or pod that contains about ten inches of body temperature salt water. For one blissful hour the floater can meditate, sleep, or just let the mind wander, unencumbered by any outside distractions.

Let me do some rapid-fire answering of the most common questions I’ve received about flotation therapy when I talk to others about it: 

1. The idea of sensory deprivation is to be still in total darkness and many claustrophobic people don’t have trouble in float tanks, but if you choose to keep the little tank light on or the pod lid open slightly, you may!
2. It is advisable to be nude while floating; the fabric of bathing suits or other clothing items pressing against the body can be distracting. Flotation tanks or pods are in private rooms, so you need not worry about anyone seeing you in all your glory.
3. If you fall asleep in the water—I highly recommend it—it’s impossible to sink due to the amount of Epsom salt used: the water used in float tanks is saltier than the Dead Sea! Sleep easy!
4. Once again due to the high concentration of salt (up to 1500 pounds in one tank!), the water is extremely sanitary; bacteria cannot live there. Water is circulated, filtered, and purified between each use.

I have found that, much like yoga, floating is a practice, which makes it great for self-care. Being disconnected from everything for sixty blissful minutes on a semi-regular basis is my idea of heaven. It’s like nothing I’ve ever experienced before, and I wish I had learned about it years ago. Every single float I’ve done has left me feeling relaxed and ready to take on whatever is thrown my way; the level of that feeling varies. For example, in April 2016 I found out about the unexpected death of Prince on the radio while I was driving to the float club. Needless to say, I was not able to float unencumbered that day and while my body was relaxed when I was finished, my brain was less so. More often than not, however, I can grab an excellent nap in the tank and feel total bliss when I leave. 

flotation therapy notes

Benefits of floating relevant to menopause include: 

1. Pain management – floating eases chronic pain
2. Increased blood circulation – as muscles and joints relax, blood flow increases and accelerates muscle tissue repair
3. Relaxation response – suppresses “fight or flight” response
4. Increased immune function – stress hormones are suppressed, helping the body regenerate
5. Magnesium absorption – helps to regulate high blood pressure, prevents osteoporosis, provides PMS relief, and relieves menopause symptoms, just to start!


Extended descriptions of those benefits are listed on the site for the Weightless Float Center in Louisville, Kentucky (and, truly, the website for any float club in America). 

Flotation therapy is similar to a massage when it comes to pricing. I enjoy both but prefer the sensory deprivation element that floating provides. It gives my body and my brain a little vacation and honestly, who would turn down the opportunity to take a vacation from menopause? (Not me.) 

In the end, no matter what kind of self-care methods you choose, those are the right ones for you. The important thing is giving yourself a little break to recharge. It’s a win-win situation, truly: you’ll feel better and happier, and those around you will benefit as well.


Continue the Conversation

Thanks for the info on flotation therapy, Melissa! I too believe that self-care in menopause is important. I’ve started posting self-care tips on Instagram (I actually created a guide with 151 ways a midlife woman can practice self-care). I think I’ll search for a float center near me. Thanks!

— Valerie

Thank you for the article. Valerie, I would love to see your list..

— Sheila Penney

Thanks for reading, Sheila and Valerie!
Valerie: I hope you have a place nearby! Enjoy!

— Melisa Wells

Okay, you’ve convinced me to book a float session, with the little light on and everything :)

— Liz

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