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About six months ago, I went off the grid with social media. I completely purged myself of anything Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Reddit, and Snapchat related. Temporarily disable? No, no, no. I permanently deleted everything. At the time, I deemed that social media was causing me more stress than pleasure, so I got rid of it entirely to enjoy the simple pleasures of life. There are just too many unnecessary or rage filled posts people make on the internet and I got incredibly exhausted from it. Every post ranging from political arguments, to multiple humble brags about Stacy’s big ass engagement ring ends up sending me in to a spiral of internal conflict and filled my day with stress.
However, it didn’t take me long to realize there was a huge part of the internet that I was dearly missing. My time being nearly “off the grid” opened my eyes that I was lacking one of my biggest stress relievers: animal videos.
Ever since I was young, escaping in to nature or surrounding myself with animals was the only guaranteed quick fix for a great mood- it’s foolproof. If you know me at all, you’ll know that I have an inherent need to spend time hiking, on a lake, at the dog park, on a mountain, at the beach, etc. But when I’m in my office in the middle of a loud Los Angeles boulevard, my ocean horizon computer desktop background isn’t cutting it.
Watching cute animal videos was no longer a “want.” It became a need.
Call me childish, but whenever I see an animal do something adorable (ie: exist), I can’t help but instantly see my own personal stressors as manageable that day. I know that cute animal videos are far form a cure for everything that’s wrong in this world, but there’s just something magically healing about the sweet innocence and inadvertent hilarity of animals that can help me feel better. That’s when it hit me: anything associated with the beauty of animal life or nature is my ultimate form of self-care.
Not only are cute animal pictures and videos just adorable, but they’re pretty accessible when you’re stuck in your cubicle eager to drown out the office for a solid minute or two. Open Instagram and go to the accounts for Happy Hens and Highlands, Penny the Goat, Juniper the Fox, Maya the Samoeyed, Bearcoat Tonkey, Lil Bub the Cat, and more… That’s just scratching the surface of my favorites. Instagram also allows you to follow hashtags instead of specific accounts if you’d rather just see #puppiesofinstagram on your timeline.
I guess it’s not all that weird that I need these videos to keep my mental state at equilibrium. In fact, studies probably show that after watching cute animal videos, one’s focus increased substantially. Yes, really. Go watch that video of the mother hen keeping her babies dry from the rain with her wingspan. You deserve it. And your ability to perform well at work demands it. Next time your boss yells at you for watching viral dogs do the “What The Fluff?” challenge, tell him it’s only beneficial for your work ethic in the long run. ‘Cause science.
If you’re a softy like myself and you’re inclined to do even more than just observe, there are plenty of sites that promote saving animals and their environment, too. If that’s your cup of tea, Explore.org has live puppy and kitty streams to promote the North Shore Animal League, and Zooborns.com showcases everything from baby kangaroos and tigers and educates about conservation efforts. At the end of the day, there’s no better way to feel better than practice daily gratitude and help someone/something else.
Suffice it to say, I’m back “on the grid” (to an extent)… But thankfully I’ve become more disciplined in viewing exclusively the type of content that’s beneficial to my stress levels: highland cattle playing with puppies..