COVID-19: Managing Immune System Stress
We want to say a little something to acknowledge the threat of COVID-19 in our community. We want to continue offering you a sanctuary to reset, but we also want to make sure that it’s as safe as possible for both our guests and our staff. Our primary function as a company is helping people manage their stress, and that has never been more true than during high-stress events like the situation we’re all experiencing or witnessing with COVID-19.
As in most public emergencies, our main challenge is fear and panic amongst us humans rather than the nature of the issue at the core of the emergency. Fear and panic are stress-based reactions that often aren’t based in logic or mindful consideration. From a neurological perspective, our posterior cingulate cortex (PCC) – the brain’s seat of anxious thoughts – goes into overdrive under stress. Floating – like massage, sauna, and everything else we offer – is a great antidote to those cycles of stress-based anxiety, and fMRI studies have shown, shuts down PCC activity in particular.
Stress is also a primary contributor to weakening of the immune system. Disruption of the immune system from excessive production of stress chemicals cortisol, adrenaline and norepinephrine will not only increase our susceptibility to viruses and infection but will increase the impact of viruses and infections once they’ve taken hold. Want to protect yourself from viruses? Manage your immune system by managing its inputs: environment, food/nutrition, and stress. Here’s a great TED-Ed video on how stress affects the immune system:
And another outstanding presentation on how floating helps immune system function and regulates inflammation:
For context, massively more people will die today of heart disease, car accidents, starvation and a myriad of other common diseases (tuberculosis, hepatitis B and pneumonia, to name just a few) than from COVID-19, but we unfortunately don’t launch national and international emergency states over those. While there is a significant risk for the elderly and immune-compromised, and that should be taken seriously by considering our impact on them and taking steps necessary to minimize their exposure, the rest of us really would benefit from just chilling out a little more, stop feeding our cultural panic, and take care of our incredible immune systems by managing our stress and giving it what it really needs to function at peak performance.
HOW DO WE SANITIZE OUR CENTER AND FLOAT ROOMS?
The fact is the kind of obsessive focus on sanitization and cleaning that we’re now all talking about is and always has been a daily focus for us. We’ve been obsessed with sanitization and cleaning since 2014. To us, this is all pretty standard stuff.
A few things to be aware of about our processes:
- Our float tanks contain 1,000 lbs of Epsom salts. In terms of salinity level, it follows the same “Specific Gravity” level as The Dead Sea, around 1.3 SG. The Dead Sea got it’s name for good reason: very, very few things can survive in it. As it is with float tanks. They are a highly inhospitable environments for pathogens purely from having that much salt in them.
- In addition to the salt content, our float tanks follow a Department of Health-regulated process of double filtration between every single float. 100% of the float tank solution is drained after every single float and 100% of the solution is passed through (1) a giant filtration system designed for swimming pools with thousands of more gallons of water than a float tank, and (2) an ultraviolet filtration system similar to that which is used in municipal drinking water systems.
- In addition to salt and filtration, the interior surfaces of our float tanks are fully sprayed with a sanitizing solution between every single session and deep cleaned every night with a sanitizing solution to ensure no growth of anything pathogenic inside the float tanks.
- In addition to salt, filtration and interior surface cleaning, we’ve doubled down on sanitizing all high contact surfaces (handles, light switches, faucets/knobs) with a solution of alcohol and hydrogen peroxide.
- In addition to all that, we’re actively encouraging any client with symptoms or who has been exposed to anybody with symptoms to stay home.
- In addition to all THAT – is the list getting exhaustive enough yet?? – we also periodically purify the air and surfaces of our float rooms by deploying ozone overnight, which break down odors, microorganisms and other pollutants.
- And, finally, we’re trying to keep COVID-19 out of our space entirely by stationing some hand sanitizer right outside our front door and encouraging all visitors to use it before entering. It’s like our version of a string of onions and a specific non-invitation to keep the vampires from crossing our threshold. Luckily, though corona viruses can be quite virulent, they’re actually quite easy to kill.
What we want to assure you of is that we are always in a state of obsessive awareness of sanitization and cleanliness. It always has been and always will be paramount to us that you feel safe about coming to our space to rest, relax and heal. This situation is not new to us.
IF I AM CONCERNED ABOUT FLOATING RIGHT NOW, CAN I CANCEL MY APPOINTMENT?
Normally, we ask for a 24 hour cancellation notice. If you are feeling unwell, we are always happy to cancel your appointment for free. We understand right now that many people are afraid to be out and about in public, and we are happy to cancel your appointment without our usual policy need. We just ask that you are genuine with us about the reason for your cancellation, and not take advantage of the situation because you, for example, went on too much of a bender the night before. We’ll honor it if you do.
WE MAY HAVE TO CANCEL YOUR APPOINTMENT.
If we have reason to think you may be affected, we will cancel your appointment.
In the event that we have staff out due to sickness, we may need to cancel your appointment. This is highly unlikely, but for massage in particular may be a potential outcome.
I’M HAVING FINANCIAL DIFFICULTY BECAUSE OF COVID-19. CAN I PAUSE MY MEMBERSHIP?
Absolutely. We’re in this together, and we understand that some people may already be or soon be experiencing financial difficulty as a result of workplace disruptions. Our membership plans always have and always will have flexibility at their heart. We never want anybody to feel financially trapped; that’s the opposite of stress management, right? If you’re having financial troubles, just let us know and we can easily pause your membership for however many months you might need, and then automatically start it up again whenever you’re ready. If you have accumulated member sessions accrued with us, you can naturally still use those during that period so you can continue your self-care.
You can learn more about our membership plans at www.olyfloat.com/membership.