January 23, 2017

Float Your Stress Away

My Experience in a Sensory Deprivation Tank

by Kevin Gullickson

Is it possible to float your stress away?

I intended to find out at the new flotation spa that opened up in town.

When I first heard about flotation spas on a podcast, I was immediately intrigued. The idea behind the experience was “sensory deprivation.” It sounded a little freaky to me at first. Then I understood what it meant. Sensory deprivation is removing stimuli from your senses to create the most relaxed state you can experience.

Here’s what the whole flotation experience was like for me…

Pre-Flotation Pod Prep

What floating in a sensory deprivation tank is really like I started off at the appointment desk, where the spa employee told me what was getting ready to happen. Then he took me to a waiting room. The video playing there gave an overview of the experience and offered testimonials from other “floaters.” They also offered an oxygen bar as a bonus.

The testimonies on the video shared how people felt a deep sense of peace and calm, received clarity on things going on in their lives, or even had visions while floating. Some of them seemed a little strange to me. I wondered if I would possibly have some sort of “out of body” experience. But I tried not to create any sort of expectations for myself based on what I heard.

I waited a few minutes for a room to open up. The water in the flotation spa had to be recycled from the previous customer’s session. A large machine cleans and purifies the water for about 20 minutes, so it’s ready for the next person.

I didn’t need to prepare much for the experience. The spa supplied everything except for a contact lens case and solution, which I brought. I also brought a swimsuit, just in case, but they recommended floating in the buff. In hindsight, I think that was the best way to get the full experience of the float. Anything touching my skin would have been a distraction.

Benefits of Epson SaltsEach personal spa room had a shower, changing area, and the flotation tank. The flotation pod itself was shaped like a giant clamshell, and looked quite a bit like an alien spaceship, with it’s glowing lights and ambient music—especially once the lights in the room were turned off!

After getting final instructions from the spa employee, I showered and prepared to hop in. The spa provided earwax and petroleum jelly in the changing area. The petroleum jelly was for applying to any small scrapes or cuts. Due to the high salt content in the water, you would “feel the burn” leaving any open wounds exposed and uncovered. I didn’t think to put any on my dry, cracked hands…and regretted it! I jumped back out to apply some petroleum jelly after the fact. But since my hands had already been exposed to the salt, the petroleum jelly wasn’t effective. I also popped in the earwax to avoid getting water in my ears, to block any sounds and round out the sensory deprivation experience.

Now it was time for me to jump (or rather duck) back into the pod. The water was perfect body temperature to create the feeling of, well…not feeling anything. With the high volume of salt in the water, I imagine it was like stepping into the Great Salt Lake or the Dead Sea. The salt serves two purposes:

  • Keeping the floater on top of the water
  • Providing the well-documented benefits of Epsom salts

I slowly sat down and pulled the clamshell top down. Then I laid back, stretched out and lifted my legs to float. There came a point where I pretty much had to trust the water to keep me up, which it did, of course.

Flotation Therapy

I have to admit that my mind was racing at that point. I had turned the room light off, but the lights and ambient music in the spa were still on. I knew in order to get the full experience it would be best to turn them off. But in the back of my mind I recalled a “freak out” claustrophobia moment in a pitch black room. It was a moment I don’t care to repeat ever again. But I decided beforehand that floating was going to be all or nothing. So I reached over to the button on the wall of the spa and turned off the lights.

I waited a few moments with the gentle, soothing music still playing in the spa speakers.

So far…so good.

No claustrophobia crept in and the music seemed too loud after a while. So after my comfort level grew, I was ready to turn off the music as well.

No problems!

Initially, I had to make a few adjustments to floating in the pod. I found my toe touching the wall and had to gently push away — but avoid drifting to the other side!

Next came the moment I had been anticipating…complete silence and solitude…the moment of just letting go.

I could feel my heart beating, but the rhythm was relaxing. I released all tension in my muscles and let my thoughts drift.


peace and calm floatation therapyI got so comfortable that I decided it wouldn’t be a big deal if I fell asleep. (And I may have at one point—I don’t even know for sure!) I almost felt like I couldn’t tell where my body ended and the water began.

I didn’t have any visions or “aha” moments of inspiration. I didn’t have a spiritual experience. I just relaxed and enjoyed a moment of peace—away from the hustle and bustle of life and work and family, away from the pressures of the day.

Sixty minutes passed—slowly or quickly, I can’t even say. I literally just enjoyed the moment. It evolved without creating any expectations or pressures around what I was supposed to think or “do” or experience in the spa. A friend of mine ended her session early because she got bored, but I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of it.


Did it float away my stress? Maybe. I hope that my wife and kids noticed that I was a little less tense and more relaxed as I enjoyed moments with them that day. It’s possible that my brain finally found a chance to declutter and re-organize itself a bit. Maybe my chiropractor found that my back wasn’t as tense and out of line as it normally was. Plus there were the added benefits of the Epsom salts.

Would I do it again? Absolutely. For an introvert like me, an opportunity to close off the rest of the world for a little bit is a welcome one! But if I had to choose between a float and a massage, I would probably choose the massage.

If you have a flotation spa near you, look for a local group coupon deal and give it a try! Whatever your experience, be sure to let us know what you thought at Facebook.com/BartonPublishing.

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Kevin GullicksonKevin Gullickson wears many hats as the COO of Barton Publishing. He loves to implement systems and processes that help everyone on the team work more efficiently. When he’s not working, he’s enjoying his family, cycling or working out…or trying to help others in some way! He’s a pastor and church planter “on the side” and recently planted a church in Sioux Falls, SD.



A Brand New Day of Unparalleled Greatness

Anything is Possible Today

by Michael Tyrrell

I have this uncanny sense that many of us will be experiencing a lot of “firsts” this year. It is really easy to get into a rut (a rut is just a grave with both ends kicked out!) and fall into the trap of mediocrity. When you have experienced the same thing day after day, year after year, it is easy to assume that life will always be black and white, even though you dream in Technicolor!

It is interesting that when you are in line at the grocery checkout, the aisle is conveniently stocked with magazines. These magazines all have an anonymous prophet named “they” who tells you all about yourself without ever meeting you! For example: 

  • They say that by age 30, you will have crow’s feet forming around your eyes.
  • They say by age 40, men will have an accumulation of fat known as love handles and women will have muffin tops.
  • The list goes on and on.

Here is my question … who are “they” and where do “they” get their information? Are we all at the mercy of such predictions? Are “they” always right??? Of course not!!!!!!

convictions and words key to futureWe are constantly changing beings of inestimable value, virtually unpredictable and capable of unparalleled greatness! You are your own best prophetyour convictions as evidenced by your words are the key to your future.

Years ago, I met a woman in church who was convinced that she would die of a heart attack on her 33rd birthday because her mother died of a heart attack on her 33rd birthday. Try as they did, her counselors could not convince her otherwise. Sure enough, this precious woman dropped dead from a massive coronary on her 33rd birthday. In the same way, if you are convinced that goodness and mercy will follow you all the days of your life, they will!

Lamentations 3:22-23 says, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning, great is your faithfulness.”

Each and every day is a brand new day. It is NOT yesterday and it isn’t tomorrow—it is the gift of today. That’s why it’s called the present. Instead of basing your current experience on your past or your future, live in the moment.

Psalm 118:24 says, “This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

Every day can be a “first” when you allow it to be all that God has designed it to be. When we get out of God’s way, we find the blessing in every second, minute, and hour of each 24-hour measure of our journey. Remember, nothing shall be impossible for those who believe; therefore, anything is possible today. I will leave you with this thought.

When we were children, we didn’t wear watches, look at calendars, or keep a ledger; we lived out loud, used our imagination, and enjoyed the day until it was time to sleep and dream… until the next, brand new day.

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Michael TyrrellMichael is an author, visionary, musician, composer, producer and friend of God. He exists to bring love, healing, and motivation to a hurting world and in turn, inspire others in our generation to do the same. Michael created Wholetones: The Healing Frequency Music Project to promote positive, healthy change.  Seven unique pieces recorded in seven unique frequencies on seven CDs results in 2½ hours of beautiful, transformational therapy.


How to Overcome Social Anxiety Disorder

How to Let Go of Your Fears

by Rob Fischer

Think of a time when you had to give a presentation, interview for a job you really wanted, went on your first date, or attended a meeting or event at which you knew no one. Chances are you experienced some level of anxiety preceding and during the experience.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the number one fear in America is public speaking. Along these lines, Mark Twain quipped, “There are two types of speakers. Those who get nervous and those who are liars!”

Social anxiety disorder symptomsClearly, anxiety over high pressure social situations like speaking in public is a natural and normal response. However, many people experience significant anxiety in nearly all social contexts. They exhibit excessive, irrational behavior and fear in interactions with others. This form of anxiety is not normal and may constitute social anxiety disorder or social phobia.[1]

An estimated 19.2 million Americans suffer from social anxiety disorder.[2] In fact, social anxiety ranks as the third most prevalent psychological disorder in the country.[3] This condition consists of feelings of uneasiness, dread, or apprehension about social interactions. Typically, these feelings of anxiety stem from concern that one is being scrutinized and judged negatively by others—even when there’s no cause to believe this is truly the case.

The person is scared that they will be embarrassed, belittled, or humiliated in front of others. A person with social anxiety disorder may anticipate and stew over a planned encounter to the point of debilitating fear beforehand. This reaction can bring on a panic attack or prompt other irrational behavior.

The following examples usually evoke emotional distress for people with social anxiety disorder:[4]

  • Meeting new people
  • Being teased or criticized in public
  • Finding themselves the center of attention
  • Being watched while doing something
  • Meeting people in authority
  • Any social encounter, especially involving strangers
  • Pressure to say something with others present
  • Interpersonal relationships, whether friends or romantic

Symptoms of social anxiety may include:[5]

  • Sweating
  • Shaking
  • Pounding heart
  • Inability to think straight
  • Being tongue tied
  • Upset stomach
  • Diarrhea
  • Flight
  • Insomnia

Social anxiety disorder results from distorted thinking. With this disorder, we entertain false beliefs about social situations and the negative opinions of others. Social anxiety is rooted in the fear that others are out to get us, laugh at us, or think we’re dumb, fat, ugly, or … fill in the blank. Social anxiety is emotionally draining because we’re always on our guard, always suspicious, and never relax in the presence of others.

Left untreated, social anxiety disorder can severely hinder a person’s normal daily routine—anything that involves other people.[6] This could include: riding public transportation, going to work or school, work performance, attending social activities, relating with people under any circumstances, and even leaving home.

Typically, people with social anxiety disorder recognize that their behavior is irrational. But knowing that and being able to do something about are two different things.[7] People with this disorder don’t like the way they respond toward others and wish they were different. This “knowing” often spawns feelings of guilt and inferiority, which exacerbate the problem.

The Causes of Social Anxiety Disorder

Biologically, social anxiety seems to run in the family. Whether this is genetic or learned behavior is another issue. But even if you are genetically disposed does not mean that you are consigned to a future of social anxiety.[8]

Psychologically, a person may have been bullied, made fun of in the past, or experienced some other trauma that triggered social anxiety disorder.[9] These issues too can be overcome.

Environmentally, a person may observe the negative consequences of how others are treated and respond in fear to avoid such treatment themselves. Children who are overprotected by their parents and not allowed to develop social relationships with others may not learn good social skills.[10] But it is never too late to learn!

Treatment for Social Anxiety Disorder

Mainstream Drug Treatments

As is so common with Americans, we frequently reach for a pill to solve our problems. And in the case of Social Anxiety Disorder there are numerous drugs on the market prescribed to treat this disorder. Ironically, many of these drugs bear side effects common to the very issue they purportedly address! Below are two examples of drugs (Zoloft and Prozac) commonly prescribed for social anxiety disorder.[11]

Zoloft – “Common side effects of Zoloft include sleepiness, nervousness, insomnia, dizziness, nausea, skin rash, headache, diarrhea, constipation, upset stomach, stomach pain, changes in appetite, abnormal ejaculation, impotence, decreased sex drive, difficulty having an orgasm, dry mouth, and weight loss.” [12]

Prozac – “Side effects of Prozac include nausea, upset stomach, constipation, headaches, anxiety, insomnia, drowsiness, dizziness, nervousness, heart palpitations, loss of appetite or increase in appetite, weight changes, cold symptoms (stuffy nose, sneezing, sore throat), dry mouth, decreased sex drive, impotence, or difficulty having an orgasm. Some patients may experience withdrawal reactions such nausea, nervousness, and insomnia upon stopping Prozac.”[13]

Based on those side effects, one might well observe that if you didn’t have social anxiety disorder before taking those drugs, you might certainly develop it after taking them!

Cognitive Behavior Therapy

The most effective treatment currently available for social anxiety disorder is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Cognitive behavioral therapy seeks to “guide the person’s thoughts in a more rational direction and help the person stop avoiding social situations that once caused anxiety. It teaches people to react differently to the situations that trigger their anxiety symptoms.”[14]

A primary goal of CBT is training you to be your own therapist. In this regard, there are a number of self-guided manuals available. Many people with social anxiety disorder are making great progress by following the book, The Shyness and Social Anxiety Workbook: Proven Step-by-Step Techniques for Overcoming Your Fear by Martin M. Antony, Ph.D., and Richard P. Swinson, M.D.[15]


You can also begin to transform your mind and thoughts away from anxiety by reading and meditating on Scripture. God designed us for relationship with Him and with others. You were made for relationships. By meditating on what He says about relationships and implementing those principles into our lives, we can overcome many of our social difficulties.

Also, He knows us intimately—even better than we know ourselves. In addition to that, He loves us unconditionally, so we can trust Him implicitly. Because He knows us so well and loves us so much, in the Bible He has given us instructions, examples, and encouragement on how we can interact with others in a healthy manner.

For instance, check out the following passages regarding our relationship with God and others:

  • Psalm 139:1-4, “You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely.”
  • Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
  • Matthew 10:28, “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.”
  • Romans 12:10, 16, “Be devoted to one another in love. Live in harmony with one another.”
  • Philippians 4:6-8, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things”.[16]

more growth, peace, blessing and grace from GodAsk God to help you with your response toward others. “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” (2 Timothy 1:7) Because God has not made us timid and fearful of others, we can depend on Him to help us overcome this problem.

Whatever anxiety or discouragement we might have about our relationships there is always more growth, peace, and blessing that God’s grace can bring.

Additional Anxiety Help

Other positive steps you can take that may help you overcome social anxiety disorder include:

  1. Getting plenty of rest
  2. Eating nutritiously
  3. Exercising regularly
  4. Applying music and chroma (light) therapy.

All of these solutions are important for squelching anxiety and achieving peace and joy in your life.

When I was 12 years old, I recognized that I was painfully shy. I knew that I didn’t want to be that way. So, I asked my parents to send me away to camp for a week, knowing that it would push me out of my comfort zone. I went, not knowing another soul there!

My camp experience had the desired effect. Because no one there knew me, I started all my relationships with a clean slate. I began to relate with others—even strangers—in ways I had not formerly tried. It opened my horizons and changed me profoundly.

How about you? What steps will you take from those provided above to reach out to others and turn a phobia into a pleasure in which you’re able to truly enjoy the company of others?

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Rob_FischerRob Fischer has been writing professionally for over 35 years. His experience includes writing curricula, study guides, articles, blogs, newsletters, manuals, workbooks, training courses, workshops, and books. Rob has written for numerous churches, for Burlington Northern Railroad, Kaiser Aluminum, and Barton Publishing. He has also trained managers in effective business writing. Rob holds two Master’s degrees, both focused heavily on writing. Rob has published eleven books and serves as an editor and ghostwriter for other authors.



[1] WebMD, “Social Anxiety Disorder,” February 13, 2014, http://www.webmd.com/anxiety-panic/guide/mental-health-social-anxiety-disorder.
[2] WebMD, “Social Anxiety Disorder.”
[3] Thomas A. Richards, PhD, “What Is Social Anxiety?” Social Anxiety Institute, nd, https://socialanxietyinstitute.org/what-is-social-anxiety.
[4] Thomas A. Richards.
[5] WebMD, “Social Anxiety Disorder.”
[6] WebMD, “Social Anxiety Disorder.”
[7] Thomas A. Richards.
[8] WebMD, “Social Anxiety Disorder.”
[9] WebMD, “Social Anxiety Disorder.”
[10] WebMD, “Social Anxiety Disorder.”
[11] Social Anxiety Support, http://www.socialanxietysupport.com/.
[12] RX List, “Zoloft Side Effects Center,” 4/2/2015, http://www.rxlist.com/zoloft-side-effects-drug-center.htm.
[13] RX List, “Prozac Side Effects Center, 4/2/2015, http://www.rxlist.com/prozac-side-effects-drug-center.htm.
[14] WebMD, “Social Anxiety Disorder.”
[15] Andrew M. Jacobs, Psy. D, Martin M. Antony, PhD, “Social Anxiety Disorder and Social Phobia,” Social Anxiety Support, nd, http://www.socialanxietysupport.com/disorder/.
[16] Philippians 4:6-8, Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ®Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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