Simply Nerdy Mom: The ASMR Phenomenon

Monday, July 14, 2014

The ASMR Phenomenon

I wanted to make a post today on something very few of my readers know about. With it's rise in popularity within the last 3 or 4 years, it's becoming easier to find information on the topic, yet people are still unsure of what exactly this new found form of relaxation that strikes an incredible number of people is all about.

ASMR stands for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response and is a distinct, pleasurable tingling sensation in the head, scalp, and back in response to visual, auditory, tactile, olfactory, and/or cognitive stimuli. ASMR has been highly controversial despite it's huge cult following and anecdotal evidence. It is in no way sexual. Those who experience ASMR know it to be a form of relaxation and works better (and is healthier) than any other sleep aid.

I myself experience ASMR and have even started an ASMR Youtube channel. Youtube has been a vital link in bringing together others who have long experienced this feeling of euphoria but had no way to describe it or know if others had felt the same sensations.

The best way to describe this feeling is to compare it to the relaxed feeling you get when someone is playing with your hair, or lightly brushes your arm. These are two of the many different triggers those with ASMR enjoy. For others, it's watching someone perform simple tasks, hearing a soft whisper, light tapping or scratching, or obtaining personal attention.

Have you ever met someone who's voice was so relaxing that it put you in a trance and nearly put you to sleep? This is what the ASMR community feels when they are triggered.

I have experienced this, myself, for years. Up until the last few years there was no way for me to describe this tingly, relaxed sensation I got from (what was, to me) weird actions from others. Listening to someone tap keys on a keyboard, lightly tap objects with their fingernails, or scratching textured objects in a certain way. However, the most obvious and probably biggest of my triggers was someone playing with my hair or lightly tracing something down my back or arms. I was also triggered when friends would write on my hands with pen in class or when I was little and my grandmother would lightly trace around my ear to get me to go to sleep. We called it "Tickling" my ear and it knocked me out.

I was taken by surprise one night after months of no sleep when I stumbled upon these fantastic videos and amazing community of people just like myself.

My very good friend had recently passed away tragically and I was having a hard time sleeping as well as just relaxing in general. I was on edge and stressed all the time over the whole thing. I decided to look up meditation videos to try and calm myself enough to get even a little bit of sleep. 3am and I'm sitting at the computer with my ear buds in and find the Soothetube website. There were meditation videos and there were also Bob Ross videos with comments about how Bob Ross's voice and mannerisms would often times relax others and put them to sleep. It was true for me as well. I remember being in a trance any time I would watch Bob Ross on tv. This is when I found tapping videos. The one that had my "A-ha!" moment involved a lady tapping her flip phone, lightly tracing it with her long fingernails, and pressing the buttons as if she were texting. My initial thought was, "Well this is weird. How is this relaxing to people?" but my curiosity got the best of me and I watched it. That's when it happened! That relaxed feeling. That warm tingly feeling flowing from the top of my head on down to my neck and into my back. It gave me goosebumps.

At the time there was no name for it so in order to find more videos, I just searched Youtube for tapping videos and surprisingly there were others!

The ASMR community has since grown by leaps and bounds and has it's share of popular ASMRtist (A term for those who create content) such as Gentle Whispering, Heather Feather, and Visual Sounds.

These are the wonderful people who tuck me in at night. Who help me manage my stress and depression, and who make you feel like everything is going to be okay. The community is filled with the greatest people with the biggest hearts. Of course, there are those who still do not understand what ASMR is all about and a lot will jump to conclusions and judge. This is only because they do not know enough about it to understand it's amazing qualities. It's not for everyone. There's a surprising number of people who experience this, but there are even more who don't. We are the special ones.

It has helped calm my Autistic daughter as well as helped me through labor pains and the entire pregnancy of my second child. We are even seeing instances when our little guy experiences ASMR.

And while there's still a stigma attached to this form of relaxation, it has drawn the attention of many publications and news sources through out the world. O magazine by Oprah as well as Inside Edition and local news affiliates have done pieces on this phenomena.

If you would like to check out some of my favorite ASMRtists, feel free to visit their youtube accounts, but I ask you, please keep an open mind. It may be beneficial to you and if you find that you too experience ASMR, I say to you, "Welcome to the community!"

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