By Natalie Stamper, Psy.D
I learn a lot from my kids. Recently, I found my teenage son and his friends viewing videos together. Much to my surprise, what I observed was a great example of a self-care exercise. Upon inquiring about the content of said videos, they told me it was called ASMR.
I had never heard of such videos, so naturally, my interest was piqued. After some research, I found that ASMR stands for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response and that it may actually be a useful tool in maintaining well-being and happiness. According to writer (and mother of five) Crystal Ponti, ASMR is a “physical sensation characterized by a tingling feeling that typically starts at the scalp and then travels down the spine.” This can otherwise be known as frisson, a sudden feeling of excitement or even tingling, often manifesting itself in the form of goosebumps.
One may wonder how ASMR correlates with mental health. To begin with, it is brought out by visual, auditory, or touch stimuli in the body that promotes a calming response in the central nervous system (Ponti). A 2015 study in the journal PeerJ reported that, following ASMR, participants experienced “feelings of well-being, improved mood, stress and anxiety relief, and relaxation” (Coleman). Those who experienced ASMR found that they felt more calm and positive. Additionally, it has been reported to induce temporary relief of chronic pain, stress, and depression. Some have claimed that sounds such as typing on a keyboard give small sensations similar to the feeling of love. It puts people in a “womb-like intimacy” (James).
Examples of ASMR inducers include:
- Whispering (the soft sound triggers soothing tingles)
- Tapping (this rhythmic trance can aid in sleep and relaxation)
- Scratching (most commonly practiced on hard surfaces, it can be soft or hard tapping; either produces a nice sensation)
- Blowing (especially in the ear, the sound and feeling of a gentle breeze can be very relaxing)
- Page turning (turning pages offers a delicate sound one may find pleasing to the ears)
- Concentration (while unexpected, concentrating on a single task can make one feel good)
- Eating (while potentially gross, the sound of chewing food can be immensely satisfying to some)
- Hand movements (visual appealing, sends viewers into a relaxing and meditative state)
- Plastic crinkling (think bubble wrap)
The sensations triggered by ASMR have become quite popular among youth and adults alike. And for good reason. It is particularly useful in terms of self-care and is readily available to anyone who may be interested. If you’re struggling with finding relief from anxiety, depression, stress, or if you are having trouble sleeping, ASMR is worth a shot!
Ponti, Crystal. “What Is ASMR, and How Can It Benefit Your Kid’s Mental Health?” Motherly, 12 June 2018, www.mother.ly/parenting/what-is-asmr-and-how-can-it-benefit-your-kids-mental-health.
Coleman, Erin. “Does ASMR Ease Anxiety?” Benefits Bridge, United Concordia Companies, 5 July 2017, benefitsbridge.unitedconcordia.com/asmr-ease-dental-anxiety/.
James, Paul. “How ASMR Can Relieve Anxiety.” Voices of Mental Health, AMS Creative Studio, 25 July 2018, www.voicesofmentalhealth.com/blog/how-asmr-can-relieve-anxiety.
“15 Of The Most Common ASMR Triggers.” LOLWOT, 17 Mar. 2015, www.lolwot.com/15-of-the-most-common-asmr-triggers/.