The internet can be a wonderful place, but it can also be an extremely toxic environment.
You can learn about anything you want just by typing some words into a search bar, or you can slowly lose your faith in humanity from reading the comments on a Facebook post.
And now that the tumultuous election season is finally over and the end of the election brought no relief, you may have experienced even more of the latter.
Newsflash: Constantly hanging out on that side of the internet definitely won't boost your mood. On the other hand, if your unhappiness stems from events going on in your daily life, the last thing you'll want to see after opening up your computer is bad news.
But as easy as it is to get sucked into the ruthless, dramatic (and entertaining) side of the internet, it can also act as an outlet for positivity.
Here are eight ways to use the internet to boost your happiness and de-stress:
1. Find your new favorite band.
Discovering new music that you enjoy is kind of like stumbling upon the pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. At some point while shuffling through the songs on your Spotify playlist, you'll come across a song that can completely turn your mood around.
Or, you can always watch a continuous stream of music videos on YouTube. Depending on the song or video, this can almost feel like a form of auditory or visual therapy. Put your headphones in, and tune your worries out.
2. Work it out.
If you're feeling down, getting to the gym can seriously feel like a chore. But what if you didn't have to leave your bedroom?
There are tons of guided exercise videos out there for people at any level. You can find a free 10-minute gentle yoga video to get the blood flowing or an hour of intense movement where you'll definitely be sweating (and getting those endorphins fired up).
If you'd rather not move at all, you can always follow a guided meditation video. Whatever you choose, the options are out there, and all of them will definitely help to relieve some stress.
3. Get motivated.
Continuing on the topic of videos that can boost your mood, there are also dozens of motivational speeches out there that can help you get out of a funk.
Maybe you're not pleased with the path you've created for yourself or you feel stuck in a career rut. Watch a TED Talk or look up different famous commencement speeches.
Hearing someone speak about situations that are similar to the one you're in and how to move past it can be very therapeutic.
4. There are always animals.
If people are pissing you off, there are animals. The Internet is likely about 99 percent cat videos anyway, so these won't be hard to find.
As an animal lover, something about a funny or cute video of animals just being animals tends to put a smile on my face. (I'm partial to cats, but I won't rule out any other creature.)
This might only be a temporary boost of happiness, but the lighthearted nature of these videos can definitely brighten your day, even for just a bit.
5. Talk it out.
People can be mean while typing from behind a computer screen.
Rather than interacting with angry, opinionated strangers in a comment section, reach out to a friend on social media. Because that's really what Facebook is for, right?
Catching up with an old friend and reminiscing about memories could be just what you needed to lift your spirits.
6. Treat yourself.
Online shopping counts as retail therapy, too. Even if you just add items to your shopping cart and never actually purchase them, it is still relaxing to look through the pages of shoes, tops and accessories and imagine putting together an outfit.
And knowing that something you bought online will be showing up on your doorstep in the next few days is the best feeling ever.
7. Treat others.
Doing good makes you feel good. If you have a cause you strongly believe in, consider donating your money or time to a charity that supports it, if you don't already.
While sharing articles about problems in the world is great for spreading the word, it is not necessarily going to change anything. If you have the means to even just donate $10, do it. Research charities or look up projects that interest you on sites like Kickstarter.
You might not realize the impact you're making right away, but it will be worth it in the end.
On a smaller scale, even just ordering a gift for a friend to brighten their day and yours.
8. Help is out there.
If you are unhappy to the point where you lack the motivation to get out of bed or do activities you used to enjoy, then the above list may not be able to help you. If you have a serious mental illness such as anxiety or depression, cat videos unfortunately won't help.
In that case, do go see a doctor, but remember you can also get help from the comfort of your home. Online cognitive behavioral therapy programs have also been shown to be effective.
Some are free while others aren't, so see what works best for you.
And the next time you come across an article or comment online that stresses you out, close your browser.