Allan Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D. was in private practice for more than thirty years. He is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the states
Stress Reduction, Tropical Fish and Aquariums
Although it is not discussed very much, there are health and emotional benefits that come from having an fish tank or aquarium. This is true whether its a fresh water or salt water tank. Why?
One of the environmental stimuli that people find very soothing is the sound of running water. There is a type of music than includes the sounds of ocean waves, rain storms and running streams that is mesmerizing as well as relaxing.
There is nothing more soothing than going to the beach and both watching the waves roll on shore and listening to the sound of the rolling surf pounding the beach.
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Many of us intuitively know the benefits of flowing water. This is why many people go fishing in local streams and lakes. Many people have told me that, more than catching fish, the benefit they get from fishing is standing in a lake, taking in the sounds of nature and taking in the beauty of the lake and surrounding area.
What owning and caring for an aquarium offers is the chance to bring the calming effects of nature right into the home. Once an aquarium is established and decorated with rocks and plants, watching fish swim back is stress and anxiety reducing. The gurgling sound of the bubbles add to the therapeutic effect of looking at the tank. Also relaxing are the colors of both the fish and background inside the tank. Studies show that it can reduce blood pressure and emotional agitation. That is why they are displayed in such diverse places as dentist offices to nursing homes, restaurants and doctor offices.
If there is any stress connected with owning an aquarium it is on the initial set up. The chemistry of the water must be balanced and the temperature regulated. For the beginner there are manuals that provide easy to follow instructions for the establishment and maintenance of a fish tank. With salt water aquariums the process is more complex but there are companies that will come to the house and set up the tank and even maintain it if that is what is wished for. However, many people find maintenance of either type of aquarium very relaxing.
In our hectic daily lives filled with work, family, paying bills it is important for all of us to have ways of relieving the pressure all of this creates. An aquarium provides a way for the entire family to participate in its benefits. Also, along with exercise, meditation and yoga, fish tanks are a wonderful way to further reduce anxiety and stress.
An aquarium need not be large. There are now mini aqariums that sit on the desk top and have the same effect as the large ones. Also, this need not be expensive and, when you think about it, is a good investment in emtional well being.
Your comments and questions are encouraged.
Allan N. Schwartz, PhD
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