The lawyer was stuck as a cat.
The video that recently circulated of a lawyer stuck with a cat zoom filter was one of the newest things to make us laugh. Whether we’re enjoying cute animal videos or quick comedian pieces, in a year with many layers of stress, a quick laugh can be all-important.
“It’s a pause and a distraction,” said Jocelyn Carter, associate professor of psychology at DePaul University’s College of Science and Health. “Our bodies really like it when we take breaks to laugh or just breathe or sit differently.”
She herself shared the cat video with her family.
“One of the things that made it relatable is that everyone is on Zoom all the time,” she said. “It activates a lot of different points of contact that we can all relate to, and so comparing the cat with the people doing their normal work only made us realize how ridiculous this situation we all find ourselves in is. “
As our bodies and minds adapt to situations, it can be easy to miscalculate how much stress these unprecedented circumstances can cause, she noted.
In addition to a nearly year-long pandemic, there have been prominent examples of police brutality and racial injustice, discrimination against Asians, election stress and coronavirus-related parenting struggles, she said.
“I think we’re forgetting that,” she said. “We’re pretty good at adapting to difficult things, but we’ve only had layers and layers of it.”
By this point, she said, most people have developed coping skills. “I think we are probably also unaware of the toll all these adjustments have put on our bodies, minds and sanity.”
While we are under stress, our bodies increase the production of hormones that help us respond. But it’s helpful to remind the body not to cling to a chronic stress response all the time, Carter said.
A funny or silly video is a reminder that even things that seem stressful – a mistake in an important meeting – can be fine.
“We cannot pay attention to everything at the same time and with the same concentration,” she said. “Laughing or other fun activities actually give the body a feedback system that it is okay to relax and recover.”
So check out more videos. Schedule breaks in your day for a few breaths or a few laughs.
And use the videos to interact socially, she suggested. Most of us cannot see our friends or colleagues on a regular basis. Setting up a phone or video chat seems like unwanted screen time.
But text with a funny video or meme could be the perfect quick hit of friendship.
“Reach someone in your life and share that and that will help you and that will help you,” she said.