You know that tingly feeling you get when someone plays with your hair or whispers in your ear? Or maybe listening to your officemate delicately type on their laptop keyboard immediately helps ease your anxiety at work. That pleasant sensation not only has a name, but an entire YouTube community celebrating it. It’s called ASMR, or Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, and the ASMR YouTube community is quickly catching on in the mainstream as a legit way for people to manage stress, get great sleep and relax. We chatted with ASMR YouTube superstar Belle Cornell (aka TingleBelle), to learn WTF ASMR actually is, what it’s meant to do and how you can use it in your own life.
WHAT IS ASMR?
ASMR stands for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response and is defined as a “euphoric experience characterized 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,” Belle explains. She says that “not everyone experiences ASMR from the same sounds or ‘triggers,’” and there are some people who don’t experience the phenomenon at all. Belle says that “if you experience ASMR, you have probably done so for much of your life, though it has just within the last few years gotten a name and scientific recognition.”
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE MOST COMMON TRIGGERS?
“Some common triggers are whispering, soft speaking, crinkling sounds or tapping,”says Belle. A quick ASRM search on YouTube will also yield results like: “crinkle shirt, paper sounds, rain stick, water drop sounds and back massage.” But Belle reminds us, “Everyone has different triggers. Whispering may induce tingles in one person and to another may actually cause anxiety.” She suggests that people watch a variety of videos to find what type of ASMR works best for you. Belle even has a specific trigger test video where she goes through a long list of different sounds and actions for viewers to explore their personal triggers.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS?
“Many people are using YouTube ASMR videos to relax, help them sleep or even in some cases to calm a panic attack,” Belle says. For her personally, Belle says, “Googling ‘what is ASMR’ changed my life.” She explains that she’d just had her first child and was struggling with diagnosed anxiety and OCD, and “ASMR videos helped me relax and fall asleep, which I was not getting very much of.”
She says that she’s spoken with her therapist about ASMR, and “while she’s still majorly unaware of what it is exactly, she approves of it as something I use to help relax or come down from an anxiety attack.” With that said, she reminds us that “ASMR videos should not be used in place of medicine that has been prescribed, but could very well assist in the treatment. “
Additionally, while some videos are meant to induce tingles, other ASMR videos are made “purely to help calm a person.” She explains that there are also ASMR videos of people reciting positive affirmations or giving tips on how to stop an anxiety attack and aren’t meant to “necessary make the viewer feel tingles.”
If you’re a complete newbie to the community and spend some time clicking around the (five million and counting) ASMR videos on YouTube, it’s quite possible your first reaction will be, simply, “weirded out.” A video by another popular ASMR YouTuber, Taylor Darling, entitled “ASMR Helping You Fall Asleep in Bed Friend Roleplay,” features the young woman whispering to the camera as though to a person laying in bed, simulating giving them a massage. Without proper context, it can easily veer into fetishism, which Belle (and the entire community) is well aware of and hope will change as the community becomes more widely accepted.
Belle says the most important thing for newbies to remember is to “not be quick to judge. Some videos that may seem “weird” or “unusual” to you may be just the thing that helped someone else to overcome a serious attack. The ASMR community is welcoming and is open to answering questions and referring videos or other content creators that someone may enjoy.”
Is there something specific that gives you that tingly feeling from the top of your head to your toes? Tweet us @BritandCo and let us know what it is!
(Photos via Getty)