After the float experience I had (you can find the description of what that was like here: “We’ll All Float On”- One Therapist Intern’s 90 Minutes of Sensory Deprivation) I just needed to see what else was out there in terms of quelling anxiety. There are so many options beside just yoga and meditation. For many, it can be discouraging when you can’t zone out with some guided meditation on YouTube. Therefore, I have made it my challenge to explore new ways to bring some peace and calm to my life. Maybe it will help you too.
WHAT IS A SALT CAVE?
I went to Salt in Santa Barbara to check out a salt cave which claims to be the largest underground salt cave in North America. I had heard about it on Groupon and decided to see what all the fuss was about. It was a little hard to find but once I did, we decended a set of stairs into an underground shop and spa area. Apparently, all salt caves are slightly unique with different layouts and sizes of their rooms, but all tend to have similar setups. The cave that I was in was a large, darkened room with the walls and ceiling being comprised of large, stacked pink Himalayan salt rocks, while the ground is made up of loose pink Himalayan salt (think bigger granules of sand). There was dim lighting, spa music, and zero gravity lounge chairs. It was quite inviting and smelled of lavender, which definitely helped set the mood. As I walked in through the large wooden doors to the cave, I could feel the soft crunch of salt beneath my feet as I walked into the glowing room to an empty chair. There were only three other people in my session and we were given blankets to keep warm if we wanted, even though it was a pretty comfortable temperature inside already. I was ready for my 45 minutes of bliss!
PHOTO: Santa Barbara Salt Cave; http://www.saltcavesb.com
YEAH, BUT WHAT DOES IT DO?
Salt therapy, also known as Halotherapy, has been used for thousands of years, some even reporting back to the 12th century. Halotherapy is the use of salt vapor to treat respiratory problems, regulate sleep, promote vascular and respiratory health, and may help improve our health and mood. The cave we were in was infused with micro-particles of salt to be absorbed into our skin and lungs through deep breathing. Throughout the 45 minutes you could often hear the salted air being pushed into the room. I closed my eyes and imagined I was standing on the beach, toes in the sand, breathing the salty air (which is my absolute favorite sensation). We were told that the salt in the room was more than 200 million years old (Whoa!) from crystallized sea salt beds in northern Pakistan. What is interesting is that while I sat there, I could literally feel my skin getting saltier as I pondered the inner workings of the universe, or more accurately just focusing on my breathing and relaxing my mind, trying to prevent it from plotting the rest of the evening.
WHAT WERE THE RESULTS?
As the zen-like music disappeared and I opened my eyes, I picked up my salt-covered purse and made my way back to the door. Since I don’t have any respiratory issues, I went into this to see if it had any affect on my anxiety or my sleep. What I came to find was that while it may not have done anything spectacular for my health or immediate feeling afterward, it did leave me feeling quiet, reflective, and refreshed. In the end, I guess I can’t complain because those are pretty wonderful feelings on their own and definitely the opposite of anxious. I slept pretty well that night too!
So bottom line, get creative with the ways in which you explore your self care. Your mind and body are the only ones you’ve got! There are so many interesting things out there that enrich and soothe our minds and bodies, we just have to search for them.
Do something out of the box. Find a new experience. Treat yo’ self! Do whatever it takes to nourish YOU.
Tell me about your favorite ways to combat anxiety or de-stress!
For more information on the salt cave I went to or just salt therapy in general: