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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 March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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