The fact that “self-care” is the most searched term on Google indicates that many of us are on the hunt for new relaxation techniques. We need methods that are quick, effective, inexpensive, and can be done at home. ASMR videos check all those boxes, but it might be the one thing you haven’t tried, or maybe even heard of.
This week, we’re helping you #TakeCare by exploring the viral relaxation video trend. ASMR has gained explosive popularity in the last several years, with hundreds of millions of viewers and an always-expanding wealth of free online content. What started as a Youtube trend is quickly breaking into the mainstream. Michelob ULTRA created an ASMR commercial for the 2019 Super Bowl starring Zoe Kravitz. The video “Cardi B Explores #ASMR” posted by W Magazine has over 41 million views. ASMR’s fanbase is undeniable, so what is it all about?
What is ASMR?
ASMR stands for autonomous sensory meridian response. It is often described as a euphoric soothing sensation in the back of the head and down the spine, commonly referred to as “tingles” by those in the ASMR community. These tingles are stimulated by a variety of soft sounds referred to as “triggers.” The most popular ASMR triggers are whispering, tapping on objects, and crinkling paper or packaging.
The primary goal of any ASMR video is to relax the viewer and put them at ease, but this can take many different forms. For example, one popular ASMR sub-genre is role-play videos. It is not uncommon to see titles like, “Relaxing Haircut,” or even, “ASMR Grocery Store Checkout,” where the content creator speaks to you directly, transforming a pretend mundane scenario into a calming experience.
It might sound wacky, and many are skeptical of the trend. In her W Magazine ASMR video, Cardi B whispers, “My husband thinks it’s very strange and weird that I watch ASMR every single day to go to bed.” There’s no doubt that countless others share this same sentiment. However, there’s also no denying the benefits that ASMR provides to some. Cardi continues, “but it gives me a very tingly, tingly, tingly sensation.” (Another common ASMR trigger is repeating words several times, almost like a chanting a mantra).
The physical benefits of ASMR:
While physiological research on this internet phenomenon is limited, the comments section of any ASMR video offers insight into what viewers gain from the experience. Notably, like Cardi B, an overwhelming percentage of commenters watch the videos to help them fall asleep. Many people report watching their favorite videos over and over again as a reliable bedtime meditation.
Gibi ASMR is one of the most popular “ASMRtists” on Youtube, with 2.7 million subscribers. Her most viewed video is called, “Dark & Relaxing Tapping & Scratching [Close Whispers].” (It is not uncommon for creators to identify which triggers are in the video in the title. No click bait here). The video has garnered almost 20 million views, precisely because viewers watch it repeatedly for relaxation. The top comment speaks for the room, “Who else keeps coming back to this video?”
ASMR might not be for everyone, but there is evidence to suggest that it helps some people slow down. One recent study found that “those who experience ASMR showed significantly greater reductions in their heart rates when watching ASMR videos (an average decrease of 3.14 beats per minute) compared to those who do not.” This effect is similar to the positive physiological changes that occur during meditation.
Quieting the body and the mind has become increasingly difficult, precisely at the moment when we need it most. Next time you find yourself googling “self-care,” give ASMR a try.