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Virtual Stress Relief: Guilty Pleasures

Welcome to Virtual Stress Relief Sponsored by the UB Libraries
Last Updated: Mar 6, 2024 10:53 AM

Embrace Your Guilty Pleasures

Shira Gabriel, associate professor of psychology spoke with Bert Gambini for this UBNow article where she outlines how embracing your guilty pleasures can help relieve the stresses of social distancing.

Below find a collection of guilty pleasures to spend some time on!


Fresh zucchini, carrots, tomatoes, limes, ginger and other vegetables and herbs are sliced into a salad on a plate

Bon Appétit

If you have missed the joy that is the Bon Appétit Test Kitchen's YouTube channel, this is a great time to change that!

They continue to produce content as the different personalities test recipes from their own home kitchens. Rejoice in the shared struggles of being in a Zoom meeting or class and trying to wrangle kids, pets and roommates!

Image attribution: "Flat Lay Photograph of Vegetable Salad on Plate" by Ella Olsson from Pexels


Baker's hands brushing off flour over bread dough

Peaceful Cuisine

If you're seeking calm and tranquil videos, give Peaceful Cuisine a try. These videos are a great way to focus on the sights and sounds of cooking. Warning: you may finish a video with a sense of calm, but you may also be hungry.

Image attribution: "Baked Baking Chef Dough" by Malidate Van from Pexels

Four macarons in purple, pink, orange and green stacked on a table

NYT Cooking

The New York Times Cooking channel on YouTube has both aspirational and quarantine-pantry friendly recipes. Using your time to get your pantry in order? They have a video for that as well!

Image attribution: "Four Macaroons" by Arminas Raudys from Pexels

Hand holds a slice of bread toasted and decorated to resemble a dog's face


You can't go wrong with Tasty's collection of cooking videos--everything from Make It Fancy using popular canned goods to trying out a 140-year-old cake recipe.

Image attribution: "Slice of Loaf Bread with Dog Face" by Buenosia Carol from Pexels

A pale brown sweet tart in a pan is broken and crumbling on a dark blue surface

You Suck At Cooking

Cooking not really your thing, but quarantine's forcing you to fend for yourself? You Suck At Cooking might be able to help with some no-frills recipes to get you through!

Image attribution: "Sweet tart crust fail" by Joy licensed under CC BY 2.0

Backyard Bird Watching

An American Robin sits on the branch of a tree

Cornell All About Birds

This online bird guide can help you identify birds and learn more about them from Cornell University. Check out Merlin on their site or the mobile app to help you identify the birds you see.

Image attribution: "American Robin" by Becky Matsubara licensed under CC BY 2.0

American crow on pavement in front of greenery

National Audubon Society Guide to North American Birds

Looking to use your quarantine time to befriend your local murder of crows?

Learn more about them and other local birds through the National Audubon Society's Guide!

Image attribution: "American Crow" by Andy Reago & Chrissy McClarren licensed under CC BY 2.0

Black capped chickadee sits on a tree branch in the rain


Another option to visually identify birds you have spotted is WhatBird. Their forums are also active with fellow birders.

Image attribution: "Black-capped Chickadee" by Minette Layne licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

BuzzFeed Quizzes

BuzzFeed Quizzes: There isn't much more distracting than a good BuzzFeed quiz. Or a not-so-great BuzzFeed quiz. They can even help you figure out whether you are a Sim or not.

Don't miss out on BuzzFeed Quiz Party to take quizzes with friends! Perhaps you have a group of K-pop loving friends who are in desperate need of knowing which member of BTS you are. Have a quiz party to find out!

Try this collection of 17 relaxing quizzes for a start. They can even help you with the hard decisions in life like which throwback TV show to watch! (I got Boy Meets World)

Distract yourself with a quick round of trivia, have a quiz pick your next movie to watch based on holiday foods or test your fast food fry identification skills! This librarian is no expert in fast food fries and only got a 6/16 thanks to some lucky guesses.

Listen to a Book


Humans of all ages enjoy a good story!

Roald Dahl fan? Us too! Filmmaker Taika Waititi and a rotating cast of celebrity friends have partnered with Roald Dalh HQ to read James & the Giant Peach to raise funds for Partners In Health.

LeVar Burton of Roots, Star Trek: The Next Generation and Reading Rainbow fame delights listeners of his podcast: LeVar Burton Reads

Storyline Online has quite a few children's books read aloud by actors. Check out Wanda Sykes, Betty White or David Harbour just to name a few!

The University at Buffalo Libraries now has their own podcast! Libraries Out Loud is a series where the producers engage with UB faculty, students and staff through in-depth conversations to discover the connections between the Libraries and current research, learning, teaching and creative activities underway at the university. Take a listen for a new episode every month!

eBooks and Audiobooks

Public libraries like Buffalo & Erie County Public Library (BECPL) and New York Public Library (NYPL) have great collections of ebooks and audiobooks to choose from.

Don't have a library card? Don't worry, you can signup online: BECPL and NYPL (note: NYPL applications are currently not being processed; however, you can still access materials through the SimplyE App)

Binging Together

Back of man's head as he looks at a TV screen with many watching options to choose from

Get Together at a Distance!

Missing movie night with your friends and family? Try Netflix Party to synch up video playback and add group chat!

Image attribution: "Man Watching TV" by Mohamed Mahmoud Hassan licensed under CC0 Public Domain

Streaming TV and Movies

Looking for a free streaming service? Crackle and Tubi are just two options for you. There's also Pluto TV and IMDb TV!

Anime fan or at the point where you're ready to try something different? Try a free-level Crunchyroll account.

This Rotten Tomatoes' editorial offers a variety of highly-rated films that are available for free from different streaming options--film classics, documentaries, horror and more.

Look below for some of the video databases available through the UB Libraries!


Special Thanks to our partners in Stress Relief: UB Health PromotionWhispers Café and the SPCA's Paws for Love program

We look forward to working with you again soon!