I’ve written some in the past about my recovery from serious depression to excellent mental health. One thing that helped me a lot was discovering ASMR videos.
What is ASMR? The term is an acronym for a recently coined phrase, “autonomous sensory meridian response.” It describes a pleasant sensation of tingling in the scalp that often moves down the neck and the spine. (Personally, I sometimes experience it as the classic “brain tingles,” but most often as tingling warmth in my chest that sometimes travels all the way down to my toes.)
Auditory stimuli such as soft voices or whispers, tapping, or crinkling can trigger it, along with many other sounds. So can any situation that suggests close personal attention. Some visual cues and some tactile sensations, such as light touches or hair brushing, can also stimulate ASMR.
These triggers are very personal. I find videos in which an ASMR artist shines a beam of light at me super irritating, and to me, open-mouth gum chewing is revolting. Some people like those things, though.
It seems like some people experience ASMR, and some don’t. Frustratingly, there’s been almost no scientific study of the phenomenon. Is it increasing levels of a neurotransmitter, such as oxytocin or dopamine? Is it triggering a primal, latent response from infancy and early childhood that helps babies and children bond to their parents? (This is my own guess, and I have zero proof.)
I discovered ASMR videos on youtube a few years ago, and I soon figured out that it was a fast and powerful antidote to depression. I would experience depression as a physical feeling, and ASMR would flood it out. The two sensations weren’t compatible, and ASMR won. I’m not especially prone to anxiety, but I’ve heard people say it helps a lot with that, too. ASMR also helps me and millions of people get to sleep. The great thing about ASMR, of course, is that it doesn’t have side effects like many drugs do.
I’m not sure how ASMR videos seem to someone who doesn’t experience the physiological response. They might seem boring, weird, or even creepy. On the other hand, they might still work for relaxing and falling asleep.
If you’ve never given it a try before and you want to, here are a bunch of ASMR videos that I like! For all of these, you won’t really get the effect without headphones.
This first one is from Maria, probably the most popular ASMR artist on youtube, and I wouldn’t be surprised if this is the most watched ASMR video of all time.
This one was made way back in 2011! It’s one of the first ones I ever watched. Only nine minutes long, and very soothing.
I’ve never had an actual reiki session, but I love what Joanne’s done here. This one is great for putting me to sleep.
This is an maginative one with high production values and a high-tech feel. It’s a collaboration between Brainwave Hub and the very popular Olivia. This may sound weird, but Olivia has my favorite hand movements of any ASMR artists I’ve seen.
This one is part of a whole series based on taking a cruise.
Chelsea is one of my very favorites. She uses a lot of real whispering, and she does a lot of girly role plays (shoes, makeup, spa, jewelry), which I really like.
Dmitri has made about ten thousand videos. While I was getting the link for this one, he was in the middle of doing a Reddit AMA! I didn’t check it out because I was in the middle of blogging, but I hope it went well.
I usually use ASMR before bed, but this one is actually nice for the morning, since it’s about coffee.
Fred’s done several videos about AMSR immunity. Basically, some people who watch ASMR videos all the time lose the tingle sensation temporarily, and he’s trying to address that. This video has a bunch of triggers, so you might figure out what, if anything, works for you.
Ally is a real pro with imaginative role plays, like this memory erasure one inspired by the movie Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.
Emma just seems like the nicest person in the world.
Had you heard of ASMR before? Are you familiar with the “brain tingles” sensation? I’d love to hear what you think in the comments! And if you’re an ASMR aficionado, tell us about your favorite ASMR artists. Thanks for reading, and have a relaxing day!