This is how watching cartoons can ease stress and anxiety

You may be suffering from an anxiety disorder or just enduring a particularly stressful week at work, but whatever you’re going through, you may find that watching cartoons helps to ease your stress. That’s the case for one HuffPost writer, Lauren Rearick, who shared in a personal essay this week that she copes with her anxiety and depression by watching shows like Steven Universe and Adventure Time.

“Over the past year, I have turned to cartoons again and again,” she wrote. “My mind begins to feel at ease, my worries disappear and, sometimes, unlike in the rest of my life, I even laugh.”

And it turns out that she’s onto something — cartoons are actually a great way to relieve stress and cope with mental health issues.

It’s not just the bright, pleasant colors and cute animation that help ease bad feelings. Cartoons can actually provide reprieve by presenting a more uplifting vision of the world and a message of hope and comfort.

“As far as watching cartoons go, it’s been previously proven that laughing and dopamine lower blood pressure and release endorphins,” Jack Cahalane, chief of adult mood and anxiety services at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, told Rearick. “It makes sense because cartoons are very light, interesting and creative.”

Some doctors, such as Dr. David Rosmarin, founder and director of the Center for Anxiety in New York City, actually use a technique called “behavioral activation” to treat patients with depression and chronic worry. This treatment involves increasing activities you find pleasurable, which could include watching cartoons.

“Kids’ cartoons can be a support treatment because they incorporate themes like community order, friendship, family, teamwork, that good always wins over evil, and that the sun will always come out tomorrow,” said Dr. Laurel Steinberg, a New York–based psychotherapist, in an interview with Vice.

So maybe the next time a bout of depression or just the everyday blues strikes, turn on Steven Universe and give a different kind of therapy a try.

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