A collaborative survey done by the University of Leeds and Tourism Western Australia has found that watching videos of cute animals can significantly reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.
For the study, 19 participants, including 15 students who were due to take an exam 90 minutes after the session, and four academic support staff who had declared they were feeling stressed at work, watched videos of Western Australia’s quokkas — a famously selfie-adept marsupial known for its smile-like facial structure — for 30 minutes. The individuals had their blood pressure and heart rates taken before and after watching the animal clips. It was revealed that the average group blood pressure fell from 136/88 to 115/71 during the session, while one participant’s heart rate fell from 90bpm to 68 bpm – a 24.4 per cent drop in just 30 minutes.
Additionally, a clinical psychological analysis found that anxiety levels were reduced on average by 35%, and in some cases by nearly half. One participant became so relaxed they almost fell asleep and another also commented on how the ‘smiling’ quokkas, a kangaroo relative, helped him feel relaxed.
Commenting on the physiological results, Dr. Andrea Utley said: “It was clear that students were anxious ahead of their exams, with heart rates and blood pressure for most participants mildly elevated before our session took place. Indeed, in some individuals heart rate and blood pressure was even higher indicating a higher level of stress for those participants. Throughout the course of the session, heart rates and blood pressure fell across all individuals to a level that would be considered healthy and indicative of limited stress or anxiety.”
This study shows that there’s a reason animal videos are so popular online; they have health benefits just for watching them.