ASMR, or Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, is a calming, euphoric-like sensation some people experience as a result of certain stimuli, such as the sounds of someone sorting through paper, nails tapping, packages crinkling (a personal favorite) or even the lilt of someone’s voice. ASMR is not a medical condition, at least not officially, and it’s not indicative of a health problem. It’s used as a kind of therapy by the people who know about it, and there’s an entire community on YouTube comprised of “ASMR-tists,” aka YouTubers who use their channels solely for ASMR, and their subscribers, which number up into the hundreds of thousands.
There’s an article from Social Neuroscience that defines ASMR as “a perceptual condition in which specific visual and auditory stimuli consistently trigger tingling sensations on the scalp and neck, sometimes spreading to the back and limbs.”
The tingling feeling, which kind of feels the same as when you get goosebumps (the good kind) is what those sensitive to ASMR are after when they sit down to watch a video. Whatever gives you tingles is called your “trigger,” and triggers vary widely from person to person; what triggers me may not trigger you.
Unfortunately, not everyone experiences ASMR, and for those who do experience it, they may not know that it has a name and that they share the phenomenon with millions of people around the world. I’ve been ASMR sensitive all my life, but I didn’t find out what it was and that other people had it until about a year ago.
ASMR Is Therapeutic
ASMR offers those who are able to feel it a wealth of potential benefits, though because there has been no thorough scientific or medical investigation into ASMR as a whole, only opinions and theories exist as to how one can use it to improve their lives.
ASMR is used to ease anxiety and depression, induce sleep and relieve everyday and/or chronic pain. Undergoing ASMR is kind of like popping a pill, only ASMR is better for you, as at least with it you’re not putting a foreign substance into your body.
Also like a pill, one can develop a tolerance to ASMR, meaning the same content that once gave you feel-good sensations will cease to work after awhile if you’re incessantly exposed to it. Unlike medication, however, more ASMR won’t overcome the tolerance. Instead you’re forced to stop watching videos for a certain amount of time to get your tingles back. The amount of time is up to each individual. Personally I don’t go more than 4 or 5 days, but I’ve heard of some people going weeks without viewing ASMR content in order to experience it once again. Personally, I should probably think about taking longer breaks, but I really don’t want to, and my attitude in this regard has convinced me that ASMR is addictive in nature.
If you stumbled upon an ASMR video without knowing what it was, chances are you’d be confused and maybe even creeped out.
Role-play ASMR is very popular. Doctor role-plays, librarian role-plays and “caring friend” role-plays are examples of this type of video. What happens in them is that the ASMR-tist talks to the viewer as if they’re in the room with them, making up replies as they go along. Some artists are better at this than others.
Another type of popular ASMR video is called “What’s in my bag?” In these videos, the ASMR-tist pulls items one by one out of their purse, satchel, backpack, etc. and explains each one’s significance while using it to make trigger sounds for their audience.
More women than men make ASMR videos, and YouTube is filled with a ton of ASMR-tists, though it’s my humble opinion that just because someone has an ASMR YouTube channel doesn’t mean they’re any good at ASMR. I believe that not everyone is blessed with the ability to trigger ASMR sensations and that there exists only a select few who have the “magic touch” so to speak.
My Favorite ASMR-tists
So who has the magic ASMR touch? My favorites include the most popular ASMR-tist on the internet, GentleWhispering (Maria), as well as ASMRMania (Olesya), WhispersRed ASMR (Emma), Rhosgobel Rabbit ASMR (Jessica), TheOneLilium ASMR (Lilium) and Darya Lozhkina ASMR.
The reason these lovely ladies are my favorite is because they’re the best, based on everyone else I’ve viewed on YouTube, at catering to my unique triggers. That said, the ASMR community is big enough that I’m sure there are a few gems I haven’t yet found.
Some Things To Keep In Mind
If you’re now interested in ASMR, there are a few things to keep in mind. Firstly, don’t expect that the first (or second or third) video you watch is going to trigger your ASMR. Just because you’re ASMR sensitive doesn’t mean all stimuli will be able to trigger you. For example, the sound of whispering is supposed to be one of the most common triggers, but it’s never worked for me.
To find out who and what triggers you best, watch a range of artists, expose yourself to different triggers and try all video styles (role-play, show and tell, etc).
Secondly, and I can’t stress this enough: wear headphones!
Thirdly, remember that not everyone experiences ASMR, but if you’re someone who doesn’t the videos can still be beneficial, as they’re aimed at relaxing and nurturing the well-being of those who watch them.
Lastly, though ASMR is becoming more well-known with each passing day, there are still many people who don’t know about it, so spread the word! The more people who know about ASMR, the faster the world will come to understand it.
[Featured Image by OLaLa Merkel/Shutterstock]