Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR) refers to a tingling sensation experienced in the scalp, neck, and other parts of the body in response to specific visual and auditory stimuli. Many people describe it as a pleasurable, calming feeling that can help induce relaxation, and sleep and even manage symptoms of stress, anxiety, and more.
ASMR is unique and different for each individual. Not everyone can experience this phenomenon.
While the research behind ASMR is still in its early stages, it can potentially reduce stress and anxiety.
While ASMR should not replace traditional forms of therapy, it can be a helpful addition.
Throughout the following paragraphs, we'll dive deeper into the practice of ASMR and how it can be used.
What is ASMR?
Self-care, mindfulness, and relaxation techniques have become essential practices in our daily lives. With the growing prevalence of mental health issues such as stress and anxiety, people are now more mindful of their self-care routines.
The ASMR technique is the pleasurable sensation that some people experience when they hear certain sounds, see certain visuals, or feel certain textures. The sensation can be described as a tingling in response to certain triggers. This sensation is often accompanied by relaxation, calmness, and even euphoria.
Some people are more sensitive to certain triggers than others, and this sensitivity can vary from person to person. ASMR has become increasingly popular in recent years, with millions of videos on YouTube dedicated to the topic. In these videos, creators use specific sounds and gentle movements to induce the sensation in their viewers.
ASMR videos can be incredibly relaxing and satisfying to watch, and many people use them to help them wind down and de-stress after a long day. Some individuals have used them to help with anxiety, depression, and insomnia. Many who experience ASMR report feeling a sense of calmness and relaxation after watching or listening to ASMR videos.
The soothing sensation created through ASMR is triggered by sounds or textures that cause a tingling sensation is often described as pleasurable. It is thought to be caused by sensory stimulation that activates the parasympathetic nervous system, leading to relaxation and a sense of calmness.
The sensation of ASMR is often described as a “brain orgasm.” It is not a physical orgasm but is likened to the feeling of being in a meditative state or a state of deep relaxation. Anyone can experience ASMR, but not everyone is susceptible to the sensation. It is a relatively new phenomenon in the public domain for a few years, and many people who experience ASMR have only recently become aware of it.
The benefits of ASMR
ASMR may be beneficial for reducing stress and anxiety symptoms. The sensation calms the body, leading to relaxation and the feeling of being centered. It may be incorporated into meditation and relaxation techniques to improve their effectiveness. The potential benefits of experiencing ASMR for stress and anxiety relief have been suggested in research. Additionally, ASMR can help to lower heart rate and blood pressure, improve sleep quality, and promote relaxation.
Studies even suggest that the stimulation provided by ASMR can activate the pleasure and emotional arousal centers of the brain, thus potentially leading to improved mood and increased feelings of happiness. This, in turn, may help alleviate symptoms of depression. Despite the above-mentioned studies, research pertaining to the full suite of benefits ASMR can provide is still in its infancy. More research must be done on the topic in order to substantiate the proposed benefits as scientific facts.
What triggers ASMR?
ASMR triggers can differ for everyone, as people have different sensory responses. However, some common triggers for ASMR have been identified. For example, soft-spoken voices or whispering, tapping, scratching, turning the pages of a book, or brushing sounds, and certain visual stimuli such as watching someone make something such as art.
Other triggers may include gentle touching or the feeling of certain textures. Some individuals may have multiple triggers, while others may only respond to a single stimulus type. Research shows that the most effective ASMR triggers and personal preferences can vary widely.
Additionally, people often develop new triggers as they explore this sensation. Some people have had success discovering their personal triggers by experimenting with ASMR videos or sensory stimulation; others may find themselves responding to triggers unexpectedly.
The science of ASMR
Despite its popularity, there is a lack of good quality research examining the benefits of experiencing ASMR. Some emerging evidence suggests that watching ASMR videos is associated with reduced heart rate, suggesting that it promotes relaxation in individuals who experience this pleasurable sensation. Other benefits which have been reported in case studies include reduced self-reported anxiety and improved mood.
In a brain imaging study, the experience of ASMR led to activation in brain regions associated with self-awareness and social behaviors. The researchers suggest that ASMR videos may produce calming sensations due to activation in brain regions implicated in social bonding, and potentially the contribution of oxytocin.
Despite the above-mentioned physiological and mental benefits of ASMR, future research is needed to ascertain the proposed benefits.
Using ASMR for stress and anxiety relief
Those interested in experiencing ASMR may want to start by exploring their triggers. Watching ASMR videos is a great way to explore this sensation, as several ASMR videos on the Internet offer a range of sound and visual triggers that one can experiment with to discover what works best. There are also a variety of mental health and wellbeing apps available to use, some of which incorporate the principles of ASMR for reducing symptoms of mental distress. ASMR can also be combined with meditation and other relaxation techniques to enhance mindfulness practice. For example, incorporating ASMR into mindfulness meditation can help ease stress, promote relaxation and a sense of calmness.
If you want to try ASMR to reduce your stress and anxiety levels, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, ensure you are watching or listening to ASMR content from reputable sources. Second, be patient and give yourself time to find your best triggers. Finally, remember that ASMR is not a miracle cure and should not replace professional mental health treatment.
Despite its popularity, the science behind ASMR is still largely unexplored. Researchers are only just beginning to understand how and why the sensation occurs and what impact it might have on our brains and bodies. But regardless of the science behind it, there's no denying that ASMR has quickly become a beloved way for people to relax and unwind.
- Plos One. More than a feeling: ASMR is characterized by reliable changes in affect and physiology.
- PeerJ Publishing. Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR): A flow-like mental state.
- Environmental Research and Public Health. 'It's like Taking a Sleeping Pill': Student Experience of Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR) to Promote Health and Mental Wellbeing.
- Bioimpacts. An fMRI investigation of the neural correlates underlying the autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR).