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Nail art on a laptop in a tasteful loungeroom
Photograph: Creative Commons

The best YouTube videos for relaxing and spacing out

Unwind your mind with our pick of the chillest channels and most blissful clips on the internet

By Claire Finneran
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If you're having a little trouble unwinding at the moment you've come to the right place. YouTube is our world's eternal source for all kinds of energy-level content, but it's at its most potent when mined for relaxing gems. ASMR communities have (quite literally) quietly been setting up camp in this corner of the internet for years now and many satisfying spin-offs have popped up all over. Here, let us guide you through the chillest channels and most surprisingly blissful videos. We're all in need of a little sip from the tranquil fountain of YouTube.

For more longform chill outs, try the 14 best escapist movies to watch right now on Netflix.

 

Pan flute covers of pop songs

An ancient instrument often appropriated by Tree of Life stores, the pan flute is a humble bundle of woody straws that provides a soothing sound when blown on. Cultures around the world have been mesmerised by the pan flute’s musky toots, and now you can too. Simply type in “pan flute pop covers” into YouTube and LOL as you’re lulled. Hello? Is it a strangely New Age version of a song you’re looking for? Bonus: In this cover of George Michael’s ‘Careless Whisper’ our hero, the humble pan flute, has to compete with the famously robust saxophone.

Magnets! How do they work?

Banned in most countries, these tiny magnet balls are a hit online – watch them being touched and you could forget about how, legally, you aren’t supposed to touch them. Don’t let the first 14 seconds of techno fool you, this video is soothing AF. This hand actor is supremely talented at finding compelling ways to make the magnets click together. The ticking away of the magnets doing their thing combined with this person’s exceptional eye for detail make this entire channel a relaxation go-to. Watch to the end to see Magnet World gently plop live fish into the pond and carefully place a miniature turtle on a slide. Bonus: You might also enjoy the DIY moxie of gift-wrapper Shiho Masuda, so casually ingenious, super relaxing to watch.

NASA live streams Earth from space:

If you’re feeling like the world is getting to be a bit much, we suggest closing all of your tabs, making this video full screen, and hitting play. Watching the International Space Station slowly circle the earth with a romantic piano soundtrack does a great job in alleviating worldly woes. “We’re all on this gentle blob planet together, man” you might find yourself whispering to no one. This video is sort of like having a night light but with comments (don’t read the comments). Bonus: Visit the stars in a less literal way with this laidback astrology reading – Oprah’s favourite astrologer, Chani Nicholas, warmly analyses Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda’s birth charts.

Fall asleep to Joe Pera:

Adult Swim may have angled this as a joke about Joe Pera’s monotonous voice, but it quite literally has a narcoleptic effect. Listen as Pera envelopes you in blissfully distracting topics ranging from Stephen Hawking’s marriage to barns (he really likes barns). Falling asleep isn't necessarily the goal here, but this visual lecture does send a lovely shutdown message to your brain. It’s best to not tell you too much about what Pera covers in his soft rambling – turn it on, switch off, and let his gargly low voice lull you into a warm space-out. Bonus: If the sound of nice men's voices really does it for you you'll love the sweet and soft humour of Clive James' Postcard from series. Start in Rome and travel the rest of the globe with Clive's gently hilarious probing. 

Animated food compilations:

What is it about food that isn’t real that makes it look so bloody delicious? This video is one of many, many animated food compilations out there, but it’s a good place for you to start – it collates all the visceral sizzles and sloppy slurps from anime, claymation and CGI films for your blissed-out viewing pleasure. Want to watch a cartoon egg fry and forget about the world? You’ve come to the right place. The leftovers supercut is arguably better and so are a number of hits you’ll find if you simply type “animated food” into the YouTube search bar. Bon appetit, friends. Bonus: Food videos make up a majority of online content, but for supreme relaxation we recommend the ASMR cooking channel Hanse. It's wordless, carefully recorded combining of ingredients done with a clean style.

 Waking up a rabbit with demure objects:

Absolutely stop what you are doing and give yourself five minutes to watch this gorgeous rabbit be roused from slumber by the smell of fresh dill. It's worth it. OneMorePlease is a channel that lovingly catalogues Pipkin the rabbit's great life indoors. There isn't an online trend Pipkin hasn't tried. Rabbit ASMR? Yes. Rabbit mukbang? Right this way. Rabbit getting inexplicably Punk'd-style told he is adopted? Sure, if you want, here. But paws down, the best sub-genre of Pipkin's content is the myriad ways he is woken by the smell or mere presence of things. Sorry to undermine this entire list, but you could probably completely forget about the concept of "stress" by watching the playlists in this channel. Bonus: Pet-based ASMR is a growing industry – try Kakoa the Husky reviewing raw meats before he gets too famous and his videos become riddled with product placements.

How a Viennetta is made:

Behold! The poor household's posh dessert revered for the beautiful, creamy fancy-boy it is. Watch as layers of "ice cream" undulate and ripple over each other in tight formation. Marvel at the reams of "chocolate" ribboning through the middle. Fight back tears as the final spray of "topping" is delivered to the frozen pile of doilies. All set to a mischevious tune, this video is the reason why 'How did this get made?' videos are real-life magic. Cut yourself a slab of Vienetta and make your way through other mesmerising factory hits like bubblegum, rubber bands, tequila, and Lego. Bonus: Watching ripples of creamy goodness is definitely a "thing", so head over to the plethora of cake decorating videos for more twists and turns of the icing variety.

Sesame Street songs from the '70s:

Despite being a brazen threat to foodie culture, 'Everybody Eats' is the chillwave anthem our people need. Much like the rest of the Sesame Street oeuvre, this song pleasantly describes something very banal in a calm and accessible way. We're siphoning it down to the 1970s because that's when the clips really hit the rancho relaxo spot – enter the golden world of their trippy animations or try James Earl Jones delivering the alphabet like it is the role of his life. Bonus: In fact, the entirety of children's entertainment was made by people on psychedelics and our cultural tapestry is richer for it. Get into old ABC classic Roger Glover & Guest's 'Love is All' (1974) for more cute weirdness.

Nail art tutorials:

We can all be a sarcastic Sally sometimes and that's totally fine, but a whole corner of the Internet is quietly operating in an earnest and wholesome way and we should take some time to appreciate that. Suzie, from the channel Nail Career Education, is onesuch lovely operators. She takes nails seriously and wants you to learn, and we could all take an ombre shell out of her book in how to be an affably humble communicator. "Oh wow!" she'll gasp at her own work, and you know what, we're there with her. Through every slick of glitter shellac and every time she quietly calls drying her nails "nuking it" – we're on board. Contemplate art, ruminate on human connection, and relax with Suzie's nail guidance. Bonus: For more wholesome wonder head to channel xpurr for videos devoted to showing you how every single Lush bath bomb looks underwater and from above as it dissolves.

Garden sprinkler sound loop:

The sound of carefree summers you didn't know you needed. We were trying to avoid super basic, predictable aural relaxation but, hoo boy, click play on that. Be soothed by the simple image of a sprinkler reliably ticking away in some green grass and your troubles will slink their way out your ear holes like Alex Mack leaving a classroom. This is an hour and 20 minutes long, an insane amount of time to be watering your lawn, so enjoy this virtual breach of water restrictions in private ecstasy. Bonus: Add some more flair to your POV enjoyment with this virtual shopping tour: it's set in funky Melbourne and contains a lot of picking up and putting down of crinkly products.

More relaxing bonus clips? You got it:

The famous Pennsylvania log

This nostalgic claymation clip from the recesses of your after school TV mind: 

This man showing you how to build a bench from scratch: 

A child admiring New Zealand's pohutukawa trees with Christmas music:

 

 

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