What is ASMR and how does it help with stress?


Mother daughter

What does ASMR stand for?

ASMR stands for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response.

What is ASMR exactly?

Essentially, ASMR is an incredibly pleasurable, buzzing, warm, relaxing sensation often described as tingles or chills that tend to start in the neck or back of head and travel down the spine to your arms and legs.  The sensation brings about feelings of euphoria, happiness, comfort, calmness, peacefulness, relaxation, restfulness and/or sleepiness.  It is tricky to explain to those who have not experienced it.

What causes ASMR?

ASMR can be stimulated by one or a variety of “triggers”.  Almost anything can be a trigger but they are usually repetitive, methodical, steady pace, steady volume and non-threatening.  The strongest triggers are usually a combination of types of stimuli including:

Visual-eye contact, flowing hand movements, watching someone have their hair brushed

Audible-soft whispering, mouth sounds, chewing, blowing, tapping, scratching, cutting, crinkling

Tactile-caring touch, rubbing, light scratching, blowing, brushing

Is ASMR sexual?

ASMR is not usually sexual although, it is easy to see how an unaware observer could assume that it is sexual or fetishistic, based on the nature of the stimuli.  However, to try to sexualize an ASMR session actually ruins the whole experience.

Who can get ASMR?

Anyone can experience ASMR but unfortunately, not everyone does.  The majority of people say that they first experienced the “tingles” when they were a child but that does not eliminate the possibility of first having the sensation as an adult.  The whole experience is very subjective and is different for everyone.

What are the benefits of ASMR?

Those in the ASMR community have expressed feelings of euphoria, comfort and relaxation.  It is described as a self soothing mechanism.  They say that there is a reduction in their stress, they fall asleep easier and they sleep more soundly as a result of encountering their triggers.  At the moment, there is not a lot known about the science and physiology of ASMR.  One theory is that ASMR is reminiscent of bonding behaviours between a child and a parent or a friend.  For example, a child receiving a soothing back rub from a parent or someone they trust will stimulate the release of feel good hormones such as endorphins, dopamine and oxytocin.  Even the loving gaze of a mother looking down at her child or the sound of  parents doing dishes in the other room while the child peacefully falls asleep are nostalgic memories that may influence what triggers work best for an individual.  Another example would be children drawing on each others’ hands with pens or markers.  It all seems very nurturing and simply feels great!

How can I experience ASMR today?

Youtube videos – Type “ASMR” into youtube and a whole plethora of videos made by ASMR artists will pop up! Take some time to explore these videos and find out what works for you.  What triggers give you the tingles?

Friends & Family – Do you have a significant other or partner?  Maybe a friend that you are comfortable enough who is willing to act out your favourite triggers?

Spas & Beauty Services – If you are one of those people who only responds to tactile (touch) stimuli, you may want to consider getting a hair cut, having your nails done, getting a massage, or getting a facial.  There are even spas out there that offer ASMR as part of their treatments.  If the idea of fighting traffic to get to another appointment has you stressed, there are mobile spas and wellness companies available to come to your home, office or other location of choice.