The Healing Power of Taking a Pause: Give Your Mind, Body, and Spirit a Break
It's like Disney World for wellness-junkies.
Although busy lives and never-ending to-do lists tell us to keep going at all costs, there is so much healing in disconnecting from a productivity-above-all mentality. “In our modern world, with so much environmental and emotional stress — cell phones, wireless radiation exposure, constant notifications, the 24-hour news cycle… — the body is always in survival mode and not tapping into the parasympathetic [nervous] system,” explains Dr. Charles Tabone, Naturopathic Medical Doctor at Pause, an urban oasis of calm that is essentially like Disney World for wellness fanatics. (Except, instead of roller coasters and dressed-up characters, you’ll find rooms of flotation tanks, infrared saunas, and Cryotherapy machines.)
At Pause, wellness-goers are invited to make wellness the priority, interrupting the rampant stress cycle that holds our wellness hostage. Various hi-tech wellness modalities, including UFO-like flotation tanks and IV-therapy overseen by Dr. Tabone, help us rē-imagine the journey to wellness in a sophisticated setting. Making wellness chic has a certain appeal; virtually everyone (and city-dwellers in particular, who are especially detached from the rhythms of nature) can enhance the quality of their lives by fostering their connection within and tending proactively to their well-being.
Each emotion, worry, ache, or pain has a message pointing back to the holistic interconnection of mind, body, and spirit. For instance, even when stress originates from a thought in our minds, it results in a flood of physiological responses impacting the body directly: “Adrenaline and cortisol [increase] heart rate, blood pressure, and give your brain and muscles the fuel they need [to power the] fight or flight response,” Dr. Tabone says of the biological state of hyper-arousal that results.
He says that the long-term results of chronic, unmanaged stress include suppression of the immune system, and a decrease in the growth repair pathways in our bodies. Toxic stress is even linked to the onset of negative gene expression, a field of research studied in epigenetics.
This is exactly why it can be transformative to mindfully work self-care and stress-reduction into your lifestyle. Interrupting the deleterious cycle of the unregulated stress response can come down to, well, taking a break. “Taking time out to ‘pause’ gives our bodies permission to relax and heal; it benefits our immune systems, our emotional and physical health, our metabolism, our digestive health, our cognitive health, and more.”
Taking a mindful pause to prioritize your health and wellness is what we are all about at rē•spin. There are countless ways to catalyze the body’s innate healing potential — from dabbling in energy work, to fitness, nutrition, or sweating in an infrared sauna. But here are a few more ways to do so that are as thrilling as they are unconventional.
The idea of cryotherapy is terrifying — first you strip down to a towel, slippers, socks, and mittens, and then you step into an individual-sized freezer with a temperature in the negatives. (-220 degrees Fahrenheit, to be precise.) Inside, you’ll feel the chill down to the hairs inside your nose! But it’s afterwards that practitioners report feeling invigorated, focused, and empowered.
Dr. Tabone names health benefits attributed to cryotherapy that range from improved muscle recovery, to the invigoration of the autonomic nervous system. Repeat exposure and even shivering can help increase your metabolic rate, improve your immune health, and give your moods and energy levels a boost. He also points out that “training your body to relax in the presence of acute stress” is akin to teaching your body to return to a parasympathetic state after being triggered into a state of hyper-arousal. (Thanks to neuroplasticity, repeating this process can help train your brain to rehabituate from stressors, getting you back to a calm baseline more efficiently in the future.)
Floating allows you to experience sensory deprivation. After rinsing off in a shower, you climb into an egg-shaped chamber filled with body-temperature saltwater. Once you’re enclosed within, you can turn out the lights and turn off the music to experience complete relaxation — it’s as if you’re floating in outer space. (Don’t worry — if you’re claustrophobic or scared of the dark, you can leave the top open a crack to let light in.)
“Similar to the benefits of meditation, taking time in a sensory deprivation float pod can increase mood, reduce anxiety, promote better sleep, help with memory consolidation, and more,” Dr. Tabone says, noting that it also takes the weight off your joints, relaxing your muscles. Because the pod is filled with mineral-rich salt, you are also able to absorb Magnesium — a critical mineral that most are deficient in, yet is essential for countless bodily functions that range from the cardiovascular system to our bone-mineral balance.
Infrared saunas differ from traditional saunas in that near-infrared heat warms your muscles directly, allowing for a more efficient detoxification session. “Infrared saunas enable us to benefit from the production of ‘heat shock proteins’ and also support the body through photobiomodulation, when exposed to red and near-infrared light frequencies,” Dr. Tabone says, referring to a number of biological benefits that occur at the cellular level. Among them? Mitochondrial stimulation, ATP synthesis, and the production of Nitric Oxide, which he explains is important for heart health. “You may also increase your immune system, promote detoxification, aid in muscle recovery, support skin health and collagen formation, and benefit vascular tone and cardiovascular health.”
Contrast Therapy: Infrared Sauna + Ice Bath
Taking part in contrast therapy requires that you channel your inner Wim Hof — the breathwork pioneer famous for his affinity for jumping in freezing cold water — because you’re going to be submerged in an ice bath. The part that makes it (slightly) easier is that you can intermittently work up a sweat in the infrared sauna, before returning to take a dip alongside actual ice cubes.
The ice bath is not exactly “fun” or “relaxing,” per se, but there is certainly a thrill to the practice — plus, it turns out that the contrast of heat and cold is extremely detoxifying. “Contrast Hydrotherapy has been used for millennia to address various health conditions. In response to sustained exposure to heat, our vessels will dilate and blood flow will move to the periphery. When the body is exposed to the cold, it will cause constriction of vessels, pumping blood towards the body’s core,” Dr. Tabone explains. “This action of dilation followed by compression creates an internal pump which can help flush out toxins and metabolic waste, and increase vascular tone. This will also assist with lymphatic activation and drainage, further benefiting the immune system.”
At rē•spin, we aren’t trying to tell you how to achieve wellness; rather, we want to provide you with a sampling of modalities so that you can concoct your ideal path to wellness. Finding what resonates with you is key to making your wellness practice sustainable. What we love about Pause is that they’re making wellness anything but mundane in the process.