Emotions are running high at the moment given the current global pandemic. And with this health crisis has been a lot of understandable anxiety.
While there are a number of ways you can manage this anxiety —including avoiding news after a certain time or putting a ban on checking social media before bed — it could help to try something a little out of the box.
ASMR stands for autonomous sensory meridian response and it refers to the feeling people get when watching and listening to certain content. If you’ve ever seen those videos on YouTube of people whispering into a microphone, that’s an example of ASMR content.
According to Vox, many individuals describe experiencing “tingles” when watching ASMR. Others report feeling deeply relaxed or even sleepy.
One study from the University of Sheffield found that ASMR creates “tingling sensations in the crown of the head, in response to a range of audio-visual triggers such as whispering, tapping, and hand movements.”
Can ASMR help anxiety?
From many anecdotal reports, the answer to this is yes. It can help with a range of ailments including anxiety and insomnia. But, the scientific evidence is limited because there hasn’t been enough research conducted in the area.
According to Sarah Keedy, an assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioural neuroscience at the University of Chicago, ASMR isn’t a permanent fix, but if it works for you, go for it.
“ASMR is a low-risk thing,” she told HuffPost. “People perceive that it’s helping them relax, so what could be wrong with it? And that’s true because it is a reasonable means of treatment. However, if you’re truly suffering and you are trying to find appropriate help, you should ask for appropriate help. The internet and its availability of information can interfere with people’s judgment in asking experts for help.”
Despite it not being a medical fix for anxiety, there is a plethora of information online about how helpful ASMR can be.
“I even noticed random noises, like gentle crinkling and paper shuffling, had a tendency to soothe my anxious states,” Alana Saltz wrote for Bustle.
After suffering with insomnia, writer Megan Cary found that ASMR was a sleep-inducing saviour for her.
“ASMR has not only given me hours of sleep back, but it has also given me hours of my life back,” she wrote for Elite Daily.
Giulia Poerio, a researcher who spearheaded the study at the University of Sheffield study, says that the success of ASMR could be linked to its relaxation qualities.
“We found that ASMR videos produce significant reductions in heart rate in people who experience ASMR, so we now have more objective evidence of the idea that ASMR is relaxing. It’s not just people telling us that ASMR makes them feel relaxed,” Poerio told HuffPost. “Their physiology is telling us the same thing too.”
What does ASMR content include?
There are a few dfferent types of content when it comes to ASMR. The most basic is usually someone simply whispering into a microphone, while others can include simple tasks like “spraying a water bottle, tapping, stirring a bowl of soup, or crinkling wrapping paper,” according to Vox.
Some videos can even include people role-planning and pretending to be a doctor or librarian. Basically, there’s something for everyone in the world of ASMR.
But, it doesn’t work for everyone…
“I’ve showed friends ASMR videos, and they’ve watched them without experiencing any relaxation,” Cary wrote. “It could be the video did not include their personal triggers, or they simply weren’t in the mood to relax.”
Relaxation aside, it might not also help with your anxiety.
“ASMR did in fact positively influence me, but it’s not for everyone,” Leslie Villarama, who uses ASMR to cope with anxiety, depression and panic attacks, told HuffPost.
“It’s important to keep in mind that ASMR does not exactly help mental health issues completely. A lot of [ASMR content creators] try to remind everyone that ASMR is not a replacement for an actual therapist and if someone does heavily suffer from mental health issues, it’s always recommended they seek out help.”
So, don’t expect ASMR to be a cureall, but it could help to quieten certain anxious feelings you might be experiencing due to the current COVID-19 pandemic. And, with extra time of our hands, why not try something new?
The current health crisis is evolving rapidly. If you suspect you or a family member has coronavirus you should call (not visit) your GP or ring the national Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080.