The magic of ASMR
A gentle whisper in your ear. Personal attention from a doctor or a dentist with a soothing voice. The sound of water splashing musically into a glass. Whatever the trigger might be, a pleasurable tingling sensation spreads across your scalp, and a soft, almost euphoric relaxation flows through you. If this sounds familiar, you may experience ASMR; a phenomenon so mysterious that science hasn’t completely figured out how it works yet, and so wonderful that words can’t do it justice.
ASMR stands for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response. It’s basically a pleasant, relaxing feeling triggered by exposure to certain stimuli, usually visuals and sound. These triggers can vary dramatically from person to person, but common ones include those already mentioned, as well as sounds of crinkling or rustling paper, clinking glass, and certain accents.
With the advent of youtube, a whole community of ASMR artists has emerged. These people make videos where they try to trigger ASMR in the viewer by speaking softly to the camera, using props to create sound effects, or even role playing as a doctor conducting an eye exam or a hairdresser giving a trim.
Here’s an example of an ASMR artist role playing as a mother tending to an injured child:
For those who experience ASMR, it can be an incredibly effective tool for relaxation, sleep, and coping with stress. My own discovery of it a few years ago has helped me immensely in dealing with my OCD. Others have claimed it helps them manage Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Insomnia, and a variety of other anxiety and sleep disorders.
It’s a lot like meditation or yoga, in that it allows the brain to focus and shut out unpleasant feelings and thoughts.
So far there has been very little research done on ASMR; for instance, nobody’s bothered to give someone a brain scan while they experience it, to see what parts of the brain are being stimulated. However, the massive popularity of ASMR videos and artists, and the abundance of anecdotal evidence suggest it’s a widespread phenomenon.
Over my last few blog entries I’ve been addressing coping strategies, and there are few I have found as helpful as ASMR. I can’t count the number of times it has helped me recover from a panic attack, or allowed me to put aside my fears and go to bed.
The ASMR community helped give me my life back, and for that I cannot thank them enough.
I know all this may sound strange to some of you, but if you suffer from anxiety, I urge you to try it out; a whole new world could be waiting for you.
Here are the channels of some of the more popular ASMR artists: