WHAT IS ASMR AND HOW CAN IT HELP ME RELAX?

26 May 2020 | Student Advice

Let’s admit that most of us are a bit stressed at the moment. Things are still very uncertain and, despite having a little more freedom, we all have lingering feelings of doubt and fear. Well, this latest trend could help to ease your anxiousness.

For those of you who have not heard of it, ASMR stands for autonomous sensory meridian response. It is described as a relaxing or tingling sensation, which travels down from the scalp to the neck, in response to specific and gentle stimuli (often particular sounds). You know that feeling when you shiver in response to a gentle whisper or the croon of a whale’s song? Well that’s ASMR. It’s worth pointing out that ASMR videos are not limited to vocal sound. The things that people enjoy listening to can range from the turning of pages, to the clank of an anchor as it reaches the bottom of the ocean. Most commonly though, ASMR videos are made up of people whispering positive phrases whilst completing everyday tasks. The videos can often last up to an hour and act as a soundtrack to listen to as you relax or fall asleep.

At present, scientists aren’t really sure what makes people experience this sensory phenomenon but believe that it is the repetitive nature of sounds which soothes people. A study in 2015 revealed that many who can feel the effects of ASMR have their first experiences as a child, suggesting that these childhood memories act as a trigger for ASMR in adults. More recently, research has shown that people experience ASMR in different ways and react to different triggers – as well as some people not being able to experience ASMR at all. It is also believed that, with repetition, people may become “used to” certain sounds and no longer be triggered by them. Have no fear though, there is no short supply of videos to watch. In the last ten years, ASMR has become a social media trend which spans from Youtube to TikTok. Influencers like “ASMR Darling” (Taylor Darling) and “HunniBee ASMR” (Naomi McRae) have amassed millions of followers whispering, popping and crunching into their microphones.

Savvy brands like Kellogg’s may have cashed in on ASMR long before the trend began with their signature Cornflakes (Snap, crackle and pop indeed!) but other brands have also jumped on the band wagon in the last few years. In 2017, IKEA incorporated ASMR into their “Oddly IKEA” video, whispering soothingly about how to create “a perfect college dorm”. In 2018, KFC also created their melodious and humorous advert, “KFChill”, which confuses your ears with the strangely similar sounds of trickling rain and frying chicken. ASMR has even become a featured part of luxury spa retreats like, “Whisperlodge”, where treatments are paired with relaxing ASMR inducing sounds.

But how does can ASMR help you at home? Well, if you enjoy ASMR, then it may simply help you feel good during lockdown. Whether you shiver when listening to ASMR role plays or the spraying of a bottle, why not take a little bit of time out of your day to watch a Youtube or TikTok video and see what all the hype is about? Alternatively, if you feel like an evening of pampering, Youtube is filled with ASMR wellness routines, which can guide you through the motions of cleansing whilst treating you to soothing sounds. You could even ask a partner or friend to brush your hair or treat you to a massage while listening to an ASMR soundtrack. Finally, among its many meditations, the Calm app has a whole section dedicated to ASMR. If you want to learn more, I would recommend Emma Smith’s book, ‘Unwind Your Mind’, which teaches you about the impact ASMR can have on easing anxiety, improving sleep, and feeling peaceful.

By Ilona Cabral

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