ASMR stands for autonomous sensory meridian response; a euphoric experience characterised by a static-like or tingling sensation on the skin that typically begins on the scalp and moves down the back of the neck and upper spine, precipitating relaxation.
Basically, it’s all about the tingles. You either get them or you don’t.
Typical ASMR involves whispering, or someone speaking softly, crinkly sounds like pages being turned or plastic being crunched up, tapping noises, sounds of nature like raindrops, firewood crackling, or wind blowing through leaves, and often visual cues that strike a sense memory in the viewer; having your hair stroked, massage, or someone doing your make-up, etc.
It’s also a big business, with ASMR youtube channels drawing in millions of followers/viewers, podcasts, workshops and research being carried out to learn more, and no doubt monetise it even further.
I’m an ASMR newbie, in that I’ve probably only been using it for about a year now. Lots of people listen to ASMR for lots of reasons, personally if I’ve had a tiring day and I’m falling asleep scrolling through twitter, I don’t use it at all but where I do find it invaluable is for those mornings where my internal alarm wakes me for work, but I’m on a day off and need to drift off again, or when I wake up early with a hangover and the sugar from the alcohol won’t let me fall back asleep, or sometimes when I’m anxious and thoughts are swirling through my brain and I need a big old switch to quieten it all down.
So ASMR is not just one of the weirder internet sensations, (although it could be considered quite strange, if you don’t find it relaxing), lots of people find it uniquely helpful in dealing with anxiety, low mood and insomnia. Here’s my top three current ASMRtists (I know, but I didn’t come up with that) currently on YouTube:
- Emma @WhispersRed.
Emma is a British Youtuber with the softest, calmest voice. She comes across as being very caring and maternal, which all combined, knocks me out instantly. Best video to start with?
This ASMR Library (of course, I would love the one about books):
Alb is a Canadian vintage-loving, pink-haired, super softly-spoken dream. My all time favourite video from her is this Polly Pocket extravaganza, where she takes us through her entire collection.
I was a big PP fan and I’ve tried several times to watch this through to the end, but I just keep falling asleep…
- Ting Ting @TingTingASMR
Ting Ting is a Chinese Youtuber, popular for her sweet, gentle voice and videos like this, where she educates you in the art of a Chinese tea ceremony.
That is, if you can stay awake long enough to learn anything.
You can also relax with ASMR in a podcast format, if that’s more your style. The ASMR Podcast is pretty popular, and apps like Calm and Headspace are also well loved and offer ASMR as well as mindfulness and general relaxation.
If you’re looking for more ways to look after yourself, check out Chloe’s list of self-help books.