If you’re one of the many people who researchers say experience an uptick in anxiety and/or depression over the holiday season, you may at this point be scanning through your December credit card statements, regretting buying all of those $50 dark rum and pine-scented candle gift baskets. Or maybe you're alone, eating sweaty pork fried rice from the takeout container, wondering if you'll ever see the sun again. (You will, but not for a long time.) Or worse, you're at a holiday party crammed with co-workers, nine of which have already told you how sorry they are that your fianceé dumped you, the day before this holiday party.
But take heart: The internet has sent you a little Yuletide stress relief package in the form of strangely comforting videos. So instead of trying to soothe back-to-back panic attacks by chugging grandpa's homemade eggnog, consider momentarily escaping holiday hell by watching a video of someone squeezing slime, or smushing kinetic sand or — trust us — stirring a bowl of shaving cream.
1. Slime is back (!) and it got a makeover. In the '90s, TV shows like "Captain America" and "TMNT" made slime the toxic, sludgy, cancerous representative of the underworld/pollution, and Nickelodeon used it as their signature, slightly sadistic joke, dumping electric-green goo over the heads of kids and celebrities alike. Now, social media has repurposed slime as something that's mesmerizing to look at and, well, pretty. Audeezslime, an Instagram account dedicated to all things viscous that has 163,000 followers, exemplifies this soothing slime trend. The slime that Audeezslime makes for her videos has a texture somewhere between saltwater taffy and gel toothpaste; sometimes it’s as smooth as jello, other times it's speckled with moonlike craters or covered in tiny, foamy divots — like dough bubbling with yeast. But the real nerves-soother comes from the sound it makes when she squeezes the stuff.
A quick piece of advice: Hit "play" with an open mind. Although the premise may sound a little sexual, these videos harken back to a freer time — back when we all oh-so-happily squelched Play Doh, or perhaps more disgusting things, through our fingers, and didn't have to entertain and cook for thirty, mostly dislikable guests.
2. Kinetic sand videos have been making their way around the internet as of late. A mix of sand and oil (or, depending on the recipe you follow, a mix of sand, corn starch and soap), the substance looks like wet sand, but with a magical sticking property. You can smush it, cut it and poke it, but all those little granulars will shift and stay together, as if they're magnetic. YouTubers take advantage of the soft, fluid texture of kinetic sand by rubbing it between their fingertips, or by patting it into the shape of a bread loaf and then slicing it like it’s fresh-baked foccacia.
Also, here's a pro tip: Watch kinetic sand videos with your headphones on. The shifting sand particles sound a bit like the crackle of a fire — no stockings hung from the chimney with care needed.
3. If you use the internet with any amount of regularity, you probably already know about the phenomenon of ASMR, or "the tingles." ASMR, which stands for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, is a response that presents itself as a pleasurable, relaxing, tingling sensation in the head or scalp that can also extend down the body through the spine and into the limbs. It's often triggered by certain sights or sounds, such as watching someone paint, or brush their hair, or turn the pages of a newspaper.
Given that ASMR is now watched by millions of people worldwide, it's no surprise that an abundance of holiday-themed ASMR videos exist, including this one, from the very popular ASMRist, GentleWhispering. Around the 18-minute mark, she begins to show and talk (whisper) about an array of Christmas tree ornaments, tapping her long fingernails against them. I know you may be thinking, umm, I’m trying to escape this holiday madness, not stream it directly into my ears, but hear me out. First off, even if you’re not the world’s biggest fan of ASMR videos, there’s something soothing about having someone look directly into a camera and talk to you so nice and quiet-like — particularly if you've just endured an hour of your uncle mansplaining the topic of the book you're working on back to you. Second off, it turns out that even the tackiest of Christmas tree ornaments make these chime-like, delicate sounds when tapped, touched and lightly scratched. Enjoy!
4. Okay, so you can’t reverse time and stop yourself from commenting on the results of the 2016 election — those inflammatory words will now forever reverberate around family dinner table, causing red-faced, sputtering reactions of all kinds. But you can immerse yourself in "Back to the Future"-style magic in the form of making what’s broken whole again.
In this video made by the channel Wryfield Lab, a man slowly and thoughtfully cuts a couple of ripe tomatoes, then plays the recording backwards and in slow motion. The sounds of the chopping are entrancing: The knife glides up and down, eventually creating unpunctured fruit from what first appeared as a pile of sliced-up pulp. It’d be too easy to start jamming on what this all means metaphorically regarding life and death and time, but if your holiday season is in shambles and you’re trying to plug up the emptiness you're feeling with fruitcake, stop it: This "reverse therapy" may bring you three and a half minutes of fulfillment instead.
5. If you're wondering who thought to mix shaving cream with UV face paint and then record themselves playing with it underneath a blacklight, look no further then the title: "My happy therapy for when I'm bored at home (and high)." This totally weird but arguably magical video, made by Pieke - Hersenspinsel, may allow you to enter into an imaginary scenario — a scenario which involves getting seriously stoned, snagging the bowl of whipped cream reserved for the pumpkin pie from the fridge, sneaking off to a peaceful, family-free space and slowly stirring the magical, fluffy cream around until all of your stress dissolves.
6. Ritz Crackers, aka the most ubiquitous cracker on holiday cheese spreads across the country, recently released a commercial in Korea featuring an actress eating (surprise!) a Ritz cracker. But this is no just-take-a-bite-then-smile-for-the-camera-sweetheart ad; it’s designed for those who enjoy the intimate sounds of crinkling plastic and chewing, aka probably those among us who experience ASMR and are triggered by these noises.
If you can ignore the persuasive, slighly sexy voice whispering, "Eat Ritz Cracker" in English, which totally raises the question of whether Nabisco is getting in the game of subliminal messaging, the clip may help you develop a better tolerance or perhaps even an appreciation for that special member of your family who eats with their mouth open. There’s always at least one.