The importance of physical health is well known. We must sleep for an average of eight hours every night, eat healthily, and be active. The combination of these activities will help most people live productive healthy lives. However, taking care of your mental health should be a top priority as well.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month 💚
One in five people will suffer from neurological disorders in their lifetime. That’s 43.8 million people living with depression, anxiety, and other behavioral issues. Mental illness does not discriminate, it can affect anyone regardless of race, gender, or social class. Anyone can be affected at any time in their life.
Unlike physical illness, mental illness cannot be seen. Many people who live with mental illness feel a sense of shame about their situation because of the stigmas attached to their invisible issues.
In 1949, May was designated as Mental Health Awareness month to help end the stigma so many endure. By ending these harmful beliefs, more people will be able to access resources, treatment, and support.
Fun fact: To support mental health awareness, some people wear green ribbons!
What Effect Do Pets Have on Mental Health?
Pets can positively affect mental health. According to the Mental Health Foundation, pets can be a way to relieve stress and anxiety. Having a companion to care for, talk to, and play with can ease the loneliness that depression can bring to your life.
All pets require maintenance and love, even when their owner is not doing too well. On days that you're feeling down and really don't want to get out of bed, you’ll know your friend is happily waiting for you. For many pet owners just realizing that they have a pet to look forward to spending time with is enough to motivate them to get out of bed and start their day!
Seeing a thriving pet also helps the owner feel appreciated and loved. It’s a truly rewarding experience to take care of and love a pet.
Fun fact: People with Alzheimer’s have fewer anxious outbursts when they have an animal companion!
What Kind of Pet Should You Get?
Finding a low maintenance pet is usually ideal for those who must deal with mental illness. When someone feels like their bad days outweigh the good day, they don't want a pet that needs constant attention. It can end up being a stressor instead of stress relief.
Even cats who are notorious for being finicky with their owners need constant attention; they act like their bowls MUST be overflowing with food otherwise they are starving! They require toys, vet visits, litter, and clean litter boxes. For some, that could be ideal. Especially when you can hold your cute fluffy pet. But if your life is already hectic, it can be too much.
A pet that would be easy to take care of would be a moss ball pet. Marimo (Aegagropila linnaei) are small balls of algae, not moss, despite their nickname. They are native to Lake Akan in Japan and are a token of love and luck for life.
As pets, they require little attention. They thrive in cold dark waters while relying on waves to help them keep their unique orb-like shape. They need a little indirect sunlight and can be left alone for a long period of time.
Moss Ball Pets + Mental Health
Since moss balls don’t need a lot of sunlight, you can leave your moss ball pet beside your bed or in your kitchen. They won’t get upset if you leave them while you’re practicing self care. You also won’t have to worry about food since they make their own through photosynthesis.
They just require water and love! Just be sure to change their water every week or two. Every now and then, take your marimo out and roll them around gently in your palms. This helps them keep their shape while also helping you bond with your pet. It can be comforting since they are squishy kind of like slime!
They will grow up to five centimeters a year, and really that doesn't seem like much. However, when you have them for years, they can get quite big! Don't worry; it takes time so you won't have to rush out to find them a new tank anytime soon.
Fun fact: These mystical organisms can live for 200 years or longer. (Wow! Five centimeters a year seems huge now!)
Also, why not give your marimo some more friends? Moss ball pets are very beneficial to other water wildlife. They act as a filtration system in small tanks by absorbing pollutants such as ammonia. They also act as a safe place for other wildlife because they don't carry any parasites.
Stick a fish or two in the tank with this zany pet. Decorate the aquarium with some beautiful stones, trees, and other cute things! It would benefit your mental health to give yourself something beautiful and positive to enjoy. Lastly, please remember to take the time to care for yourself and your Moss Ball Pet!
Author: Coti Sarrell
Coti Sarrell is the newest addition to the writing team for Moss Ball Pets. She is currently enrolled at Jacksonville State University majoring in English with a minor in Communication.