Just like lots of people with anxiety, I have often turned to the internet in search of ways to help sooth a jumpy mind. A mind that can sometimes feel like it’s wired up to an electric current on maximum voltage… So less than ideal. Amongst the advice handed out by fellow bloggers, meditation guides and yoga videos, there’s a unique corner of the internet, specifically on YouTube, that’s home to what is known as ASMR. I really don’t know how many of you lovely readers will have heard of this before – so I will assume it is uncharted territory and start from the logical beginning – what in the world is ASMR?!
What is ASMR?
ASMR (autonomous sensory meridian response) is, simply put, a relaxing sensation often felt in the head, neck and sometimes limbs caused by visual and/or auditory stimulus. Not everyone feels it but those that do, including me, normally describe it as a tingling feeling that can make you feel incredibly relaxed and sleepy. It’s kind of like having a static balloon held to the back of your neck making all the little hairs stand on end.
How can ASMR be used for anxiety?
I’m guessing you’re starting to see the link between ASMR and a possibly helpful tool for anxious people. Anxiety is an inability to switch off that fight/flight mode; it puts you on edge, makes your heart race, increases irritability, keeps you awake at night… ASMR is an antidote to all of this: it relaxes your muscles, gives you a distraction, makes you sleepy and calm… Sounds magic right?! Where’s the catch?
I guess the drawback of this is that it doesn’t work on everyone. Some people watch/listen to ASMR and don’t feel anything. Some feel more uncomfortable than relaxed. Some are just bemused, a little freaked out or unable to let themselves get into it. And I understand that! The whole thing is a bit weird before you become fully acustomed to it all.
I also fully appreciate that this isn’t exactly a ‘cure’. It doesn’t necessarily reduce the amount, or severity, of anxiety you get in any long-term sense. But it can be good for lowering some negative, tense feelings in order for you to be able to sleep or relax a little bit during any one particular moment, and that’s still pretty incredible.
So the benefits of ASMR…
- Get more sleep/find it easier to fall asleep/reduce insomnia
- Relax and calm down
- Reduce physical feelings of stress
- Reduce anxiety/overwhelming and crowding thoughts
- Experience feelings of happiness that can last for a while
- Some people say it reduces chronic pain for them
Most common ASMR triggers
As I briefly mentioned before, feelings of ASMR can be triggered by both visual and auditory stimulus. The most common ones I’ve come across are:
- clicking/soft mouth noises
- drawing/paper sounds
- slow hand movements
- using a flashlight
Types of ASMR
All of these triggers (and many more) can be put together in millions of different ways to create all sorts of video content – some of which you might be into, some of which might do nothing for you. These are the three broad categories I’ve noticed…
- Pure triggers – no acting or storyline, just a person creating different sorts of sounds with objects/themselves
- Personal attention – this is taking ASMR a step closer to you, inviting you into the same space as the creator. The triggers they perform are directly to you, so face brushing, questioning you about your day, etc. There’s more eye contact involved in these videos, which can then overlap into being…
- Roleplays – these videos set up a situation and allow you to suspend your disbelief for a moment and really be part of the story. Whether that’s having a haircut or going to the dentist, there is an ASMR roleplay for everything.
My Fave ASMRtists
As there is so much out there, going into ASMR for the first time can be a little daunting. So I’ve picked my current favourites out for you to try out.
If none of these work for you but you’re still interested, then keep searching around because it’s likely that you will be able to find something that suits you.
Best Way to Experience ASMR
So you’ve found your video, how best to watch it now? Most people who listen to ASMR do it before going to bed, to get themselves nice and sleepy. To get the full experience, binaural headphones are a good call as you get surround sound. You don’t have to get anything crazy expensive to get a great experience though; these are the headphones I use.
And that’s it really: a calm listening environment, an alright pair of headphones and you’re set!
Do you listen to ASMR? Or do you think the whole thing is strange? Let me know in the comments. According to Twitter, it’s pretty split…
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