Strange Anxiety Cures #1: ASMR
By Milly Hailstone
Hey internet friends and fellow anxious babes. This is the first part of a new series I am doing called Strange Anxiety Cures, where I surf the internet looking for weird, but potentially amazing cures for anxiety. In the first installment, I'm trying to figure out if those strange whisper videos on YouTube really work. Yep, I'm sure you've heard of ASMR by now - it stands for autonomous sensory meridian response and it's supposed to give you tingles. But, some are claiming it does much more than send shivers down your spine and can even cure anxiety and depression. Let's find out.
Do Those Whisper Videos Really Work?
I've been aware of ASMR for a while. Whispers, tapping, and ear cleaning videos have been circling my YouTube homepage for a while now but I guess it just didn't appeal to me. That is until I saw a mini documentary series called Follow This (yeah it's on Netflix). I started off thinking it was a fetish thing - there is lots of tongue and lip action in these videos but I couldn't have been more wrong!
According to Wikipedia, ASMR is “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.”
What struck me most was that the documentary series interviewed a woman that claims her depression has completely disappeared since she discovered the strange intimacy of YouTube ASMR videos. There's also plenty of claims that it works wonders for anxiety too, so naturally I had to try it out for myself.
I'm one of those people that ASMR works for, meaning that I get tingles when I hear these crinkly, tapping sounds - however not everybody has this reaction, including my boyfriend who just looked puzzled when I said that I could feel tingles all down my arms and in my neck. I didn't get the 'brain orgasm' described in the documentary, but I was definitely feeling some kind of sensation and I think I'm starting to understand why these videos are so popular.
In comparison to our fast-paced and loud lives, ASMR offers an escape. It's a quiet part of the internet that you can visit anytime and all you need is a pair of headphones. I'll be the first to admit that it is very relaxing and the sounds are oddly satisfying, but I think it's the intimacy that keeps bringing people back to these videos. Each video has a lot of eye contact and whispering and one of the ASMR YouTubers (or ASMRtists) with the largest following even admits to playing a maternal role. If you don't know what I mean, check out the video below. It's a little weird at first, but the digital world can be lonely at times and this faux-intimacy seems to be offering comfort to a lot of people.
But Can ASMR Really Cure Anxiety?
It's very peaceful, and to those who get the tingles it offers an escapism. I think it could be very effective for avoiding panic attacks and soothing nighttime anxiety. Many of the ASMR videos are made to help people fall asleep, and the tapping and rustling sounds can act as distraction from racing thoughts, overthinking and worrying. It manages to pull your focus in a way that music or meditation can't.
If you need some relief from your mind, give ASMR a try. At the very least, it will be a relaxing experience and you might even get one of those 'brain orgasms' that everyone is so hyped about! According to a study, 70% of ASMR viewers watch the videos for stress or anxiety relief, so it's definitely worth a try.
In Part 2 of the series I'll be discovering the world of ETF Tapping. If you don't want to miss the next installment, sign-up for our email newsletter!
Do you swear by ASMR, or maybe it freaked you out? I'd love to know your experience, please write a comment!