By now, we’re no stranger to even the oddest of internet fads: we’re looking at you planking and the Kylie Jenner lip challenge. But if the videos circulating of a person softly talking into a microphone, clicking their fingernails or slicing soap shavings have left you scratching your head, you’re not alone. These videos, while odd, are actually incredibly relaxing for some people and a trigger for something called ASMR. As someone on the CS team who experiences ASMR (autonomous sensory meridian response), I’m here to tackle the topic and clear up a few things. Read on for the breakdown of everything you need to know (and maybe were too scared to ask) about ASMR.

image: free people

photo by free people

What Is It?

First things first, ASMR stands for autonomous sensory meridian response. Research is in its infancy, the term ASMR just being coined in 2010, but it’s a phenomenon that’s spreading throughout the internet. It’s been defined as “a feeling of well-being combined with a tingling sensation in the scalp and down the back of the neck, as experienced by some people in response to a specific gentle stimulus, often a particular sound.” The Guardian describes it as “a feeling of otherworldly relaxation… like your brain is melting in a good way.”

Some of the most common triggers include whispers, white noise, lip smacking (I know, stay with me), having a person’s complete attention, watching someone perform a meticulous task, as well as chewing, tapping, scratching and rustling paper. A 2015 study published in PeerJ looked into ASMR and suggested it can improve mood and even pain symptoms through the various common triggers. And while someone intimately whispering into a microphone may sound sexual in nature, it’s been shown to be primarily therapeutic. In a recent study, less than 2% of those triggered by ASMR said it had sensual implications for them.

How Do You Know If You Have It?

One way is to see if the above descriptions and triggers sound familiar! I had never heard of ASMR until a friend sent me an article about it a few years ago, but as I read it, it perfectly explained a sensation I would try to describe growing up as a heart burst. It would happen if a teacher was kindly explaining something to me or when my grandma would chat about this and that as she did a craft with me. Other triggers for me included someone playing with my hair and soft tapping sounds. Those actions send shivers down my scalp and shoulders and leave me feeling uber relaxed.

If you’re still not sure if you experience ASMR, peruse the videos below!

image by the coveteur

ASMR Video Examples

ASMR has grown to a point where people have entire YouTube channels devoted specifically to ASMR. W Magazine even has a full segment on celebrities doing ASMR-inspired interviews. Click through below for a few video examples of different triggers and get ready to go down the black hole that is ASMR videos.

Still not sure if you experience ASMR? Try searching “ASMR test” on YouTube and watch a video like this one, to see if you are triggered.

We want to know what you think – totally weird, or do you experience ASMR?

3 comments
  1. 1
    Jessica | February 8, 2019 at 10:42 am

    I am an ASMR enthusiast. Watching these strangely alluring videos help me relax in times of stress or wind down at the end of the day. It’s almost meditative. If you are looking for legit recommendations, check out Gentle Whispering ASMR, WhispersRed and ItsBlitzz on YouTube.

    Reply
  2. 2
    Timeless Fox | February 9, 2019 at 9:20 am

    🙂

    Reply
  3. 3
    Kat | February 10, 2019 at 3:17 pm

    It would seem ASMR is not a new area of investigation considering the study of energy flow (prana and chi) is actually ancient. It is odd that when western science begins to study something it is somehow validated and becomes “real”.

    Reply
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