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Watching Fish Can Boost Your Health, According To Researchers

Watching Fish Can Boost Your Health, According To Researchers

When you think of healthy activities, you probably picture morning jogs, yoga, maybe choking down a protein shake.

But research offers a surprising addition – staring at fish!

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A study conducted in Plymouth, UK at the National Marine Aquarium found that after watching fish “people felt more positive” and “became more relaxed.” The study even noted reductions in blood pressure and heart rate.

This is not an entirely new concept. Past research has led many doctors’ offices and dental practices to include small aquariums in their waiting rooms with the intention of decreasing stress. But according to Deborah Cracknell, the Lead Researcher, “This study has, for the first time, provided robust evidence that ‘doses’ of exposure to underwater settings could actually have a positive impact on people’s wellbeing.” It also demonstrated that adding more fish to an exhibit can enhance the beneficial effects for viewers.

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More Information About the Research Study and Its Findings

Scientists from Plymouth University and the University of Exeter Medical School collaborated to conduct this study at the National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth, UK. The University of Exeter reports, “The researchers benefited from a unique opportunity in order to conduct their study when the National Marine Aquarium refurbished one of its main exhibits – in a large 550,000 litre tank – and began a phased introduction of different fish species.”

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In their report, the researchers explain how they took advantage of the situation by venturing to measure “behavioral, physiological, and psychological reactions to increases in levels of marine biota.” To do this, they divided the test subjects into three groups. The first group “viewed the exhibit when it contained only seawater and artificial decoration.” The second group viewed the tank when it was partially stocked, and the third viewed the fully stocked tank. The goal was to determine whether participants viewing a fully stocked tank would experience greater results than those viewing a partially stocked tank.

As it turned out, the researchers were on to something. The study found that “increased biota levels were associated with longer spontaneous viewing of the exhibit, greater reductions in heart rate, greater increases in self-reported mood, and higher interest.”

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The scientists suggested these findings could potentially help companies design better exhibits to “maximize the restorative potential of aquaria in health care environments and other stressful settings such as the workplace.”

How This Research Study Can Make Your Life Better

After learning about the beneficial effects of fish gazing, perhaps you’re ready to write your local mayor a letter petitioning for more aquariums. But you may not need a full-fledged exhibit to enjoy positive results. Past research cited in the study has discovered health benefits from simply having a fish tank in your house. “Riddick (1985) added an aquarium to the home of seven non-institutionalized elderly people and found that the aquarium group experienced a significant decrease in diastolic blood pressure (DBP) compared with two other groups […] with no fish tank to care for.”

If you’re interested in starting a home aquarium, here’s a helpful guide by Business Insider. The article provides numerous tips and also comes with a caution: “Despite all of the studies suggesting that aquariums reduce stress, it’s important to note that they can induce stress as well, especially if you’re in charge of the aquarium’s upkeep. Cycling the tank, performing periodic partial water changes, managing the filtration system, vacuuming the gravel and feeding the fish can be time-consuming and mentally taxing. Of course, if you’re worried that the upkeep may be too much to handle, you can always enlist the services of an aquarium maintenance company.”
If owning your own tank sounds too time consuming or expensive, consider visiting one of TripAdvisor’s Top 25 Aquariums in the United States. And start impressing friends with your new knowledge! When you see a co-worker looking stressed and overwhelmed, kindly suggest he go stare at some fish.

Featured photo credit: Monterey Bay Aquarium/Christopher Michel via flickr.com

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Kyle Young

Operations Manager, GoinsWriter

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Last Updated on March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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