What is ASMR and how does it help calm the body and mind?

In today’s stressful times, it feels like we are always looking for the next thing to help us relax and unwind at the end of the day. ASMR stands for Autonomous sensory meridian response. ASMR videos feature the creation of different sounds to help produce the autonomous sensory meridian response, which is described as a tingling in the top of your head and down into your upper back. The sensation is often calming and pleasant to those who experience it.

ASMR videos can be as simple as gentle sounds being made up close to a high-power microphone or elaborate roleplays of spa days, doctor visits, talking to a friend, etc. Common examples of these sounds are:

  • Whispering
  • Talking
  • Tapping
  • Scratching
  • Page-turning
  • Writing
  • Typing
  • Crinkling
  • Humming
  • Rain or nature sounds

ASMR sounds can be used as background noise to relax or listen to while trying to fall asleep. However, some people experience a calming sensation from watching the videos. Examples include seeing paint being spread in a smooth, satisfying way or seeing someone’s hair brushed slowly. Another popular one appears to be ASMR videos of a scalp massage.

How does ASMR work?

These soft everyday sounds cause a release of the feel-good chemicals in the brain, such as endorphins. Videos made to appear like the viewer is getting one-on-one attention can also stimulate feelings of being taken care of, which can make us feel good. The tingling sensation some experience alone is enough to make them feel calmer. Focusing on these sounds is also an excellent way to bring ourselves back to center and slow down our thoughts.

ASMR May Not Be For Everyone

Those with sensory issues may want to try it out with caution. Having misophonia also keeps a percentage of the population from being able to enjoy ASMR, as the sounds are bothersome and uncomfortable to them. Others still don’t experience the ASMR sensation of tingles and report not benefiting from the videos. However, with so many sounds to try, many find they prefer some sounds over others. A common ground sound I have noticed seems to be rain, which many found to be a relaxing sound even before ASMR videos became popular. It is not recommended to listen to ASMR while driving, as it can make a person drowsy.

How Can ASMR Be Beneficial?

People who watch or make ASMR videos report that ASMR helps them with:

  • Decreasing stress levels
  • Relaxation
  • Falling asleep
  • An increased feeling of emotional wellbeing

Some believe ASMR also helps them with their pain. However, there is still not enough research or scientific backing for these claims. Though it is still new, and esearch is needed to understand it fully, there have been studies done to see how and if ASMR can help our mood and overall health by aiding in relaxation because lowering your stress can also reduce your risk factors for other health issues.

Final Word

Even though there is not enough scientific backing yet for how or why ASMR helps some of us relax and unwind, there’s no harm in seeing if ASMR could be a relaxing coping mechanism for you. Remember to be patient with yourself as you experiment with the different sounds and have fun with the experience. If you are interested in ASMR, an easy tip to get started is searching for sounds you already know you enjoy, such as rain or page-turning, and go from there.

Written by: Shelby Stern