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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 January 21, 2020

5 Steps To Move Out Of Stagnancy In Life

5 Steps To Move Out Of Stagnancy In Life

In the journey of growth, there are times when we grow and excel. We are endlessly driven and hyped up, motivated to get our goals.

Then there are times when we stagnate. We feel uninspired and unmotivated. We keep procrastinating on our plans. More often than not, we get out of a rut only to get back into another one.

How do you know if you are stagnating? Here are some tell-tale signs:

  • If you have been experiencing chronic procrastination on your goals
  • If you don’t ever feel like doing anything
  • If you keep turning to sleep, eating, games, mindless activities and entertainment for comfort
  • If you know you should be doing something, but yet you keep avoiding it
  • If you have not achieved anything new or significant now relative to 1 month, 2 months or 3 months ago
  • If you have a deep sense of feeling that you are living under your potential

When we face stagnation in life, it’s a sign of deeper issues. Stagnancy in life, just like procrastination, is a symptom of a problem. It’s easy to beat ourselves over it, but this approach is not going to help.

Here, I will share 5 steps to help you move out of this stagnation. They won’t magically transform your life in 1 night (such changes are never permanent because the foundations are not built), but they will help you get the momentum going and help you get back on track.

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1. Realize You’re Not Alone

Everyone stagnates at some point or another. You are not alone in this and more importantly, it’s normal. In fact, it’s amazing how many of my clients actually face the same predicament, even though all of them come from different walks of life, are of different ages, and have never crossed paths.

Realizing you are not alone in this will make it much easier to deal with this period. By trying to “fight it”, you’re only fighting yourself. Accept this situation, acknowledge it, and tell yourself it’s okay. That way, you can then focus on the constructive steps that will really help you.

2. Find What Inspires You

Stagnation comes because there isn’t anything that excites you enough to take action. If you don’t have a habit of setting goals, and instead just leave yourself to daily mundanes, it’s not surprising you are experiencing stagnation.

What do you want to do if there are no limitations? If you can have whatever you want, what will it be? The answers to these questions will provide the fuel that will drive you forward.

On the other hand, even if you are an experienced goal setter, there are times when the goals you set in the past lose their appeal now. It’s normal and it happens to me too. Sometimes we lose touch with our goals, since we are in a different emotional state compared to when we first set them. Sometimes our priorities change and we no longer want to work on those goals anymore. However, we don’t consciously realize this, and what happens is we procrastinate on our goals until it compounds into a serious problem.

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If that’s the case for you, it’s time to relook into your goals. There’s no point in pursuing goals that no longer inspire you. Trash away your old goals (or just put them aside) and ask yourself what you really want now. Then go for them.

3. Give Yourself a Break

When’s the last time you took a real break for yourself? 3 months? 6 months? 1 year? Never? Perhaps it’s time to take a time-out. Prolonged working can cause someone to become disillusioned as they lose sight of who they are and what they want.

Go take some extended leave from work. A few days at bare minimum; a few weeks or months will be great. Some of my ex-colleagues have quit their jobs and took months out to do some self-reflection. Of course, some of us might not have that luxury, so we can stick to a few weeks of leave.

Go on a trip elsewhere and get away from your work and your life. Use this chance to get a renewed perspective of life. Think about your life purpose, what you want and what you want to create for your life in the future.

These are big questions that require deep thinking over them. It’s not about finding the answers at one go, but about taking the first step to finding the answers.

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4. Shake up Your Routines

Being in the same environment, doing the same things over and over again and meeting the same people can make us stagnant. This is especially if the people you spend the most time with are stagnant themselves.

Change things around. Start with simple things, like taking a different route to work and eating something different for breakfast. Have your lunch with different colleagues, colleagues you never talked much with. Work in a different cubicle if your work has free and easy seating. Do something different than your usual for weekday evenings and weekends. Cultivate different habits, like exercising every day, listening to a new series of podcasts every morning to work, reading a book, etc (here’re 6 Proven Ways To Make New Habits Stick). The different contexts will give you different stimulus, which will trigger off different thoughts and actions in you.

When I’m in a state of stagnancy, I’ll get a sense of what’s making me stagnate. Sometimes it’s the environment I’m in, sometimes it’s the people I’ve been hanging out with, sometimes it’s my lifestyle. Most of the times it’s a combination of all these. Changing them up helps to stir myself out of the stagnant mode.

5. Start with a Small Step

Stagnation also comes from being frozen in fear. Maybe you do want this certain goal, but you aren’t taking action. Are you overwhelmed by the amount of work needed? Are you afraid you will make mistakes? Is the perfectionist in you taking over and paralyzing you?

Let go of the belief that it has to be perfect. Such a belief is a bane, not a boon. It’s precisely from being open to mistakes and errors that you move forward.

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Break down what’s before you into very very small steps, then take those small steps, a little step at a time. I had a client who had been stagnating for a long period because he was afraid of failing. He didn’t want to make another move where he would make a mistake. However, not wanting to make a mistake has led him to do absolutely nothing for 2-3 years.

On the other hand, by doing just something, you would already be making progress, whether it’s a mistake or not. Even if you make a supposed “mistake”,  you get feedback to do things differently in the next step. That’s something you would never have known if you never made a move.

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Featured photo credit: Anubhav Saxena via unsplash.com

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