What is ASMR?
ASMR stands for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response and describes a tingling sensation that usually begins in the scalp and runs down the back of the neck to the upper back leading to a feeling of euphoria, deep relaxation, and calm. ASMR occurs in response to a specific auditory and/or visual trigger for example whispering, mouth sounds, tapping, blowing, page turning/crinkling, typing, writing.
Where did ASMR come from?
The idea of ASMR has been around for a long time with the phenomenon being described in classic literature by Sylvia Plath, Virginia Woolf, and others. ASMR as we currently understand it was first described in an online forum where people began discussing their experiences of it. The term ASMR was first coined in 2010 by Jennifer Allen and since then social media has united a previously scattered community of individuals who experience ASMR. There are estimated to be over 25 million videos on YouTube created with the sole purpose of triggering ASMR.
How can ASMR help me?
Studies show that when ASMR is triggered specific areas of the brain are active suggesting the likely involvement of dopamine, which leads to the experience of pleasure and oxytocin which stimulates relaxation and comfort. Studies have also demonstrated that ASMR leads to a reduction in heart rate and an increase in skin conductance response. These responses are like those seen with stress reduction techniques, including mindfulness and music therapy, suggesting that ASMR may have therapeutic benefits for those struggling with anxiety, stress, and other conditions related to an overstimulated sympathetic nervous system (e.g., insomnia, anger, OCD, PTSD).
ASMR can be combined with more traditional psychological techniques, helping to relieve symptoms in the short term whilst also addressing their underlying causes and so alleviating them in the longer term as well.