It really is possible to “aww” the anxiety away, new research has found.
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 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, and researchers found both fell significantly in the course of watching video footage of the adorable animals. Additionally, a clinical psychological analysis found that anxiety levels were reduced on average by 35%, and in some cases by nearly half, the Daily Mail reported.
“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,” study researcher Dr. Andrea Utley said. The majority of participants were students set to take an exam following the video watching session, and the rest were employees who identified as feeling stressed at work.
“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,” Utley said, according to the Daily Mail. “Indeed, in some individuals, heart rate and blood pressure were even higher, indicating a higher level of stress for those participants.”
The study comes ahead of Singapore Airlines’ and Tourism Western Australia’s trial for their new online Quokka TV venture. “At a time when mental health is on the agenda more than ever before, new university research has suggested that simply watching videos of Western Australia’s quokkas has a positive impact on mental wellbeing and can reduce stress,” reads a marketing company’s caption on an unlisted YouTube clip of Quokka TV. “We have always been believers in the idea that a few minutes in the company of a quokka in their natural habitat is time well spent, but now it’s official: These adorable animals are good for both body and mind. Just one more reason to visit the wonderful landscapes of Western Australia when the time is right.”