Daphney Ho had an other life in the stressed-out fashion world before giving it all up to bring floatation therapy to Hong Kong. #legend spoke with the co-founder of Floax to find out what the benefits of the water-based therapy is, and why opening up the conversation to mental health and wellness is so important in the city.
How did you discover floatation therapy? How did the first session make you feel?
We discovered floatation therapy during a getaway vacation to Bangkok two years ago. My partner and I take regular trips to Southeast Asian countries visiting resorts and spas as our own way of getaway from our stressful work in Hong Kong. So we were Googling online about new spa or massage parlour on our last night of our stay and came across this image of a futuristic pod, it said floatation therapy spa centre, and had very good reviews so we decided to give it a try. My first experience was surprisingly and unexpectedly good, didn’t know an hour of total disconnection with no disturbance, can have a such significant result for both mental and physical health. A completely refreshed mind and a relaxed body which left us in awe.
What would you say are the long term effects of regular floatation?
To be honest after we discovered and studied more about floatation therapy, there are really numerous benefits. Ideally, and if possible, we recommend long term treatment for our general wellbeing, similar to exercising or yoga. The most significant long term effects for city dwellers in Hong Kong are improving sleeping quality, insomnia, relieving long term muscle pain and tension, also for stress reduction, depression and anxiety.
What was life like for you before Floax?
I used to work for an international brand as a Regional Senior Fashion Designer, so my day to day job was constant trend updates, brainstorming for each season’s collections, preparing sketches and meeting deadlines etc. That’s why fast pace, long working hours and overtime during weekends was my typical life before Floax.
How do you stay mindful? What does being mindful mean to you?
To me, being mindful is a self-tuning process to stay positive, thankful and be able to guide myself back to on track towards my goal. It may sound silly but I spend a lot of time communicating with myself every day and asking myself a lot of questions, whether it is on things I feel happy or upset about, or simply a situation that I’m stuck in. The effect is most significant during float sessions, where I am completely secluded in the pod, my mind is more open to thoughts and solutions. Another one is being close to nature – it allows me to embrace and to feel in sync with the surroundings which provides me with a lot positive energy.
You’re also a certified aroma therapist. How did that happen?
That would be from my various spa visits during all the getaway trips. I am very sensitive to scent; it is always the first sense I pick up when I enter a spa. A good natural scent can really change my mood. What’s more, I always feel magically healed when the therapist used natural oils during the aromatherapy treatment, which led me to the wonders of essential oils and aromatherapy. Simply beautiful and amazing I think.
Is wellness well developed in Hong Kong?
I would say physical wellness in Hong Kong is significantly growing and well developed. There are plenty of gyms, yoga studios, massage parlours that you can visit if you need physical pamper in Hong Kong, people are more aware of their health and work life balance than we used to. They will go for organic/green/superfoods, and people are engaging in more outdoor activities on weekends. However, I think the city still lacks awareness and support on mental wellness, as this is something harder to identify, which is quite worrying as stress and mental illness is a very serious issue for us living in Hong Kong.
Is Hong Kong a city that’s easy to talk about mental health?
Not easy at all. People here are so accustomed to living under high-stress and fast pace, we hardly allow ourselves to stop and think or understand mental health. As our Cantonese saying goes – “Lion Rock Spirit”, it has become a stereotypical mindset of Hong Kong citizens, that we are expected to be tough and efficient, we need to survive and fight for our dreams. This kind of mindset is deeply rooted especially for the older generations. Mental health is always a sensitive issue that people are not willing to confront, because showing emotional weakness goes against our traditional beliefs. I must say there has been some progress in recent years, with people slowing down, raising mental health awareness, but there’s still much room for improvement.
What other wellness treatments do you enjoy?
I really enjoy all kinds of treatment that can calm myself and bring me to a meditative state. Apart from floating, I am also really into sound bath therapy. If I’m on vacation, I will definitely go for Ayurveda spa treatment.
What do you do to stay fit?
With each passing birthdays, my metabolism is also slowing down, so I started to develop different routines in order to stay fit. I recommend a lot of stretching before bedtime and after waking up, make time to jog for an hour at least once or twice a week. More importantly is to have a positive and happy mindset, instead of forcing myself to be in the perfect size/shape. Basically just do whatever that put a smile on my face.
What are your biggest fears and have you overcome it? If yes, how?
My biggest fears would always be moments of doubting myself. Like starting my business, there were moments that I would feel low and start doubting my decisions, and the negative thoughts would burden my initiate passions and beliefs. It is very difficult to keep myself energetic and positive, and have people to agree with me. To overcome it, I would take a break and meditate, having a self conversation is really helpful to put myself back on track, also simply talking to people who share your vision and mindset seem to be effective.
Tell us your favourite Instagram to follow?
Is social media important to you?
It’s a love and hate thing to me, since I really don’t want to be addicted to social media. I have to admit it is very important to keep myself updated with the latest trends, it is also an important bridge between us and our customers to share our stories and beliefs behind FLOAX.
What is your favourite scent?
I always love lower note scents, they give me a healing and zen feeling. My favourite would be all kinds of wood scents, Hiba wood has recently become my favourite!
What is currently on your playlist?
Bill Evans and Fox Capture Plan are currently on my playlists.
Who is your legend?