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Science Finds That Watching Cat Videos Can Boost Your Performance

Science Finds That Watching Cat Videos Can Boost Your Performance

Cute animal videos are always popular on social media. However, rather than being just a popular way of procrastinating, science has found that looking at all those cute animals is good for your mental health and may even help you work better.

It increases your focus

A study by researchers at Hiroshima University in Japan, found that looking at pictures of puppies and kittens boost concentration and attention. Hiroshi Nittono and his team did the experiments with university students. They noted that “viewing cute things improves subsequent performance in tasks that require behavioral carefulness, possibly by narrowing the breadth of attentional focus.”

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The students were asked to perform tasks requiring careful attention. Those who looked at pictures of cute baby animals had their task performance improved. An additional finding of the Japanese study was that students worked at a slower and more deliberate pace after viewing the pictures.

It promotes more careful behavior

In the same study, students were asked to view stimuli involving a large letter made up of smaller letters. After viewing the baby animal pictures, the participants were able to more quickly process the small letters relative to the large one. A possible explanation noted was that caring for babies requires careful attention to their mental and physical health, an idea that fits with findings that looking at baby animals produced more of an effect than watching adult animals.

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It boosts your energy level

A study by Jessica Gall Myrick, a media researcher at Indiana University in Bloomington, found that participants reported feeling more energetic after watching cat-related videos. A study from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln found a correlation between humor — something often associated with the cute animal videos — and feelings of energy.

It increases positive emotions and decreases negative emotions

Respondents in Myrick’s study reported less negative emotions, including anxiety, annoyance, and sadness, following a cat-watching session. They noted that the pleasure they gained by watching cat videos seemed to outweigh any guilt they felt about procrastinating on tasks. Scientists have found that a “baby schema,” meaning large eyes, chubby cheeks, big foreheads, and generally rounded features, such as baby humans as well as kittens and puppies, tends to activate a smiling, positive effect and nurturing behavior. It also tends to give a dopamine rush to the brain similar to eating sugar. Oriana Aragon, a Yale psychologist, noted “Our survival depends on us taking care of our young. It’s part of our human species to respond to these features.”

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So, while official cat video breaks may not come to your workplace immediately, workers can help make their case with this news from Myrick:

“Even if they are watching cat videos on YouTube to procrastinate or while they should be working, the emotional payoff may actually help people take on tough tasks afterward.”

Featured photo credit: VIKTOR HANACEK via picjumbo.com

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Betsy Ruffin

consultant in writing, research, technology

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Last Updated on September 20, 2018

How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

Being in a hurry all the time drains your energy. Your work and routine life make you feel overwhelmed. Getting caught up in things beyond your control stresses you out…

If you’d like to stay calm and cool in stressful situations, put the following 8 steps into practice:

1. Breathe

The next time you’re faced with a stressful situation that makes you want to hurry, stop what you’re doing for one minute and perform the following steps:

  • Take five deep breaths in and out (your belly should come forward with each inhale).
  • Imagine all that stress leaving your body with each exhale.
  • Smile. Fake it if you have to. It’s pretty hard to stay grumpy with a goofy grin on your face.

Feel free to repeat the above steps every few hours at work or home if you need to.

2. Loosen up

After your breathing session, perform a quick body scan to identify any areas that are tight or tense. Clenched jaw? Rounded shoulders? Anything else that isn’t at ease?

Gently touch or massage any of your body parts that are under tension to encourage total relaxation. It might help to imagine you’re in a place that calms you: a beach, hot tub, or nature trail, for example.

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3. Chew slowly

Slow down at the dinner table if you want to learn to be patient and lose weight. Shoveling your food down as fast as you can is a surefire way to eat more than you need to (and find yourself with a bellyache).

Be a mindful eater who pays attention to the taste, texture, and aroma of every dish. Chew slowly while you try to guess all of the ingredients that were used to prepare your dish.

Chewing slowly will also reduce those dreadful late-night cravings that sneak up on you after work.

4. Let go

Cliche as it sounds, it’s very effective.

The thing that seems like the end of the world right now?

It’s not. Promise.

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Stressing and worrying about the situation you’re in won’t do any good because you’re already in it, so just let it go.

Letting go isn’t easy, so here’s a guide to help you:

21 Things To Do When You Find It Hard To Let Go

5. Enjoy the journey

Focusing on the end result can quickly become exhausting. Chasing a bold, audacious goal that’s going to require a lot of time and patience? Split it into several mini-goals so you’ll have several causes for celebration.

Stop focusing on the negative thoughts. Giving yourself consistent positive feedback will help you grow patience, stay encouraged, and find more joy in the process of achieving your goals.

6. Look at the big picture

The next time you find your stress level skyrocketing, take a deep breath, and ask yourself:

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Will this matter to me…

  • Next week?
  • Next month?
  • Next year?
  • In 10 years?

Hint: No, it won’t.

I bet most of the stuff that stresses you wouldn’t matter the next week, maybe not even the next day.

Stop agonizing over things you can’t control because you’re only hurting yourself.

7. Stop demanding perfection of yourself

You’re not perfect and that’s okay. Show me a person who claims to be perfect and I’ll show you a dirty liar.

Demanding perfection of yourself (or anybody else) will only stress you out because it just isn’t possible.

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8. Practice patience every day

Below are a few easy ways you can practice patience every day, increasing your ability to remain calm and cool in times of stress:

  • The next time you go to the grocery store, get in the longest line.
  • Instead of going through the drive-thru at your bank, go inside.
  • Take a long walk through a secluded park or trail.

Final thoughts

Staying calm in stressful situations is possible, all you need is some daily practice.

Taking deep breaths and eat mindfully are some simple ways to train your brain to be more patient. But changing the way you think of a situation and staying positive are most important in keeping cool whenever you feel overwhelmed and stressful.

Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

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