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Have you ever noticed a tingling at the back of your neck or the base of your head? Perhaps when at the hairdressers, or when listening to someone speak very softly? That feeling, the soft, tickling sensation up the back of your neck, which moves up your head, is called an Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR) – a sensation triggered by soft sounds. With blogs dedicated to it, a selection of albums on Spotify, and a huge number of video bloggers giving it a go, ASMR has taken the internet by storm in recent years. But what exactly is it? And could it really be the ultimate stress reliever?
What is ASMR?
It’s the name given to the pleasurable tingling in the head or scalp which is triggered by auditory, visual, or tactile stimuli. Exactly what causes it? No one seems quite sure, and different things produce the effect for different people. Tapping sounds, mouth sounds such as lip smacking, and soft whispers panning from one ear to the other are all common triggers. Latching on to this trend are a new cohort of ‘YouTubers’ specialising in recreating sounds that trigger ASMR in video form. Now, there a various videos specifically designed to relieve insomnia, anxiety, and panic attacks.
What are the benefits of ASMR?
It’s becoming widely known for its relaxation benefits with users reporting meditative benefits. Some listen to the YouTube videos before bed to calm their senses and others during stressful times. ‘This sensation is widely reported to be accompanied by feelings of relaxation and well-being,’ say psychology academics Emma Barratt and Nick Davis who have conducted research into the response. ‘It can provide temporary improvements in symptoms of depression and chronic pain.’
How can I try ASMR?
Anywhere! All you need is access to YouTube and a pair of earphones. These YouTubers are becoming well-known in the ASMR field:
Heather Feather ASMR
Heather Feather is a hugely popular Youtube blogger with over 200,000 subscribers and 61,881,796 total views. She uses binaural microphones in her videos which produce high quality sound that moves between both headphones, and her channel has a large number of videos with different triggers, from Yu Gi Oh card showcases to doctor role plays, meaning there should be something there for everyone.
The UK ASMR
Although less professional than Heather Feather, The UK ASMR is a personal favourite, and still popular, racking up 15,193,458 total views on her Youtube channel since December 2012. She does a number of role-plays, but also unboxings and make up tutorials, so offers a slightly different approach to the soft-spoken ASMR format.
Another hugely popular Youtube channel, ASMR Requests is run by video blogger Ally who has an impressive 44,259,924 total views. As well as a large number of role plays, her channel also has craft and cooking tutorials, and her own FutureCalm series, where she softly tells positive, future focused news stories in an attempt to relax the listener and target anxiety.