Hey there, long time no talk. Lately my dreams are almost impossible to detangle from reality because reality is so damn weird. And so are my dreams.
I deduced about a week ago that I might go insane if I didn’t stop looking at Facebook and the news. It’s day 7 of my detox, and I almost feel human again. But it does beg the question, how does one fill the leisure time when we can’t go outside and do normal human things?
While I enjoy Netflixing and chilling (like literally, you animals), I start to take issue with every series and movie because it’s showing me a life I can’t have right now. People leave their houses often and interact, like, in person.
And since I’m living in a bubble, I just want to watch things that make that feel normal. Ergo, all of these videos fall into the category of ‘won’t remind you of what you can’t have.’ Plus, even under the best of circumstances, they are all ultra-soothing to watch.
10. BuzzFeed Tasty:
People Making Food, Specifically Cake
A couple of years ago I went through a phase where I watched these videos on loop late into the night. It’s just a pair of hands making baked items. No face, no talking, just hands making food. “Just one more video,” I would think to myself, and then I would chance upon ‘17 Tasty Pie Recipes’ and feel like I’d hit the jackpot.
24 minutes of people’s hands making 17 different types of pie? Hell yes.
Why is it so satisfying? Why do I find find it so calming? Why did I watch this particular video about 200 times? (I’m serious.)
I don’t know! To be clear, I wasn’t making any of these recipes. I just wanted to watch them.
Now, it is with great care and awareness that I make this recommendation. Do not watch when already hungry, and be prepared for this to intensify your sweet tooth. Don’t worry, I’m in the process of writing a post about the best at-home workout videos, too. I got you.
9. Foo the Flowerhorn:
Macro Aquarium Videos
Another wordless option, this channel is full of videos of a pair of hands meticulously cleaning a natural aquarium, and then feeding its inhabitants. The channel offers a pleasingly consistent green hue and gorgeous close-up shots of the fishies.
It doesn’t sound that great until you watch it, but trust me.
I’m not really sure why I like it, which can be said for most of this list, but it is both peaceful and satisfying at the same time. Their world is even smaller than mine, and they seem stoked, which, I’ll be honest, makes me feel little bit better about my situation right now.
One could argue I’m just an animal in a cage watching animals in cages, but I’m not going to go there.
Ornate Cashew Buttercream Flowers
As mentioned earlier, I had a phase where I looped cake videos late into the night on repeat. And while this isn’t such a far cry from that, it feels healthier because it’s raw vegan cakes, and she pipes her flowers with cashew buttercream.
Besides, what I really watch it for is how artfully and accurately this woman makes flowers out of cashew buttercream. It always looks like a real flower, and the cakes all look like real bouquets. The artist is always wearing a floral dress, too. It seems like it must always be spring where she is (which is actually my old haunt, Berlin!)
It’s just so pleasant.
Like You’re Hanging with a Friend
On the list of I don’t know why I like this, but I do, are videos where people are filming their everyday lives. It seems like it would be monotonous, and yet it is very entertaining and especially calming, because it’s so relatable.
Ashley’s videos can be 20 minutes long of just her chatting with the camera, and yet they’re so engaging. She’s vulnerable and conversational like a friend would be, and since 80% of her videos are shot at home, it feels very normal in this weird time in life, like we’re just hanging out on FaceTime or something. She was a homebody before it was cool.
6. Erica Lee
So… people enjoy watching others clean. This is actually a thing.
At first, it sounded weird to me. But given how I can be quite disorganized at home (Just look at my camera closet. No, actually, don’t), cleaning vlogs are borderline inspiring. They’re also relaxing to watch, which is perfect for when you just want to wind down and watch something, anything, on your phone.
I don’t know what it is, but there’s just something so calming about watching a space go from messy to sparkling clean on time-lapse, all cleaned up without having to clean it myself. I think it’s having a positive effect. I could be getting motivated to clean out my closets.
5. Primitive Technology:
Building with Just What’s on the Land
Another wordless option, John Plant goes into his backyard and, using just what’s available on the land, builds structures with his hands and primitive tools he makes himself. The sound of the forest and the building is crisp and clear, and it’s beautifully shot as well. As a bonus, you can turn on subtitles and read along with it to understand the steps better. Or just zone out and watch.
In this particular video, he builds a shelter from scratch over the course of 102 days. The dedication and the gratification of seeing it all come together make this one of my favorites.
4. Mr. Tfue:
Building Natural Swimming Pools with Just Two Primitive Tools
This guy, I really don’t know why, takes just two primitive tools and builds insane underground pools over the course of two months. Like Primitive Technology, it is wordless and beautifully shot, and it’s also oddly delightful to watch.
At first I was bothered that he would build this incredible pool for no apparent reason when it takes so much work and is so ornate. Then I realized he’s just doing it because he wants to, and that blew my mind. The point was just to build it. Imagine that.
3. Night on Earth:
Animals Being Animals
If you zoned out to Planet Earth back in 2008 then you’ll love Night on Earth by the same producer, and with the same reliably stunning and mind-blowing camera work. While this does show me many amazing places around the world, it doesn’t make me yearn in the way a normal TV show would because a) Animals live outside and it makes sense to see them living their best lives, and b) They’re shooting tiny, obscure, and crazy things that I’d probably never endeavor to see in person anyways (like underwater in Svalbard in the thick of winter or the jungle floor in the pitch black).
As an added bonus, it’s narrated by none other than Samira Wiley, and watching it at night before bed has been particularly soothing. Since it’s mostly soft blue hues, I feel lulled into sleep. I love this so much, I’m actually trying to ration out the episodes.
This is the only one on this list that isn’t entirely free to watch, and it is available on Netflix (where you can get your first month free).
2. Peaceful Cuisine
Vegan Recipes + ASMR
Japanese YouTuber Ryoya Takashima runs one of the most relaxing channels on the platform. He’s meticulous, precise, and calm at all times, not to mention super talented in the kitchen! From authentic Japanese food and pastries, to coffee and desserts (all vegan), each recipe video is posted twice – one with relaxing background music, the other with autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR). Listening to the rhythm of his knife pounding on the chopping board, the crushing of garlic, and the soothing sound of rice being poured into a pot is borderline pleasurable for some. ASMR gives me the heebie geebies, so I opt for the music.
There’s no talking, and his face is hardly ever shown in these recipe videos, so viewers can focus on enjoying the work of art he puts into his videos.
A Girl’s Simple Life
Close to a million people are drawn to an anonymous Korean young woman and her simple daily life. I am one of them. Ondo is a long-haired Korean (her face is almost never shown in her vlogs) who shares her daily life that consists of making simple food in her tiny kitchen, drinking coffee, watching TV in bed, making craftwork, and cleaning her studio apartment. She finds joy in staying home and being alone, inspiring her mostly young audience to be independent and happy on their own.
She typically says very little in her vlogs, but shares her thoughts with subtitles (which are translated into multiple languages by her followers). It’s kind of like watching a reality show sans drama and suspense.
Who knew my random binge watching habits of seemingly odd choices would one day have a benefit? By switching fully to things like this when I need leisure time, I feel lighter, less stressed, and less reminded of how unpredictable things are right now.
What are your favorite things to zone out to?