OK, answer honestly. Do you sometimes binge watch cute animal videos on YouTube?
You know the ones — with the large, potentially ferocious dogs curled up with kittens smaller than their sharpest teeth.
Or the unlikely best friends videos - bears and lions who rub shoulders (and heads) while cleaning each other, or monkeys and dogs playing side by side together.
There’s something immediately relaxing about these videos, even after the most stressful of days.
And now, it seems, there’s also science behind the ability of adorable animals to make us feel better.
A study of 19 students and staff at the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom found that blood pressure and heart rates went down for all study participants after watching 30 minutes of a video featuring cute animals.
Anxiety also decreased, according to participants who self-reported their levels based on an accepted clinical self-assessment tool.
The reductions were significant, according to a study report, which found that the average heart rate of all participants fell from 72.2 bpm to 67.4 bpm, a reduction of 6.65%.
Similarly, the average blood pressure dropped from 136/88 to 115/71, according to the study, which said the decrease represents a 14.9% drop in systolic blood pressure and a 18.28% drop in diastolic blood pressure.
The study, which took place in December 2019, was paused due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but its data is interesting and worth trying out for yourself the next time you feel stressed and need to relax.
As the COVID-19 pandemic nudges us all to pay more attention to our mental well-being, adding cute animal videos to your arsenal of more traditional self-care tools like yoga and meditation is a good idea.