Impact of ASMR on Mental Health

Impact of ASMR on Mental Health

Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, popularly known by its short form ‘ASMR’, is the tingling, static-like sensation triggered by certain stimuli that might be auditory, visual or even tactile. ASMR emerged as an online trend on social media platforms and has been growing in popularity ever since. This article explores why this satisfying response has so many people hooked. It talks about ASMR about its effects on mental health.

Let Us Understand ASMR:

Compelling discussions on these sensational experiences emerged through online forums in 2007. As a response, this phenomenon was coined as “Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response” by Youtuber Jennifer Allen in 2010. Although it has gained recognition recently, the concept of ASMR has been around for centuries. There are hints of response to sensations in classic literature texts such as “Mrs. Dalloway” by Virginia Woolf. In this book, words are used in a way that aims to stimulate arousal. Knowing this, it is safe to say that ASMR can be experienced through imaginative stimuli as well.

In today’s world, many content creators use ASMR alone to build their careers. There is a large number of YouTube channels, articles and podcasts that are dedicated to this response. These creators use unique triggers that let viewers be consumed by their videos. Some of these triggers include soft-spoken voices or whispers, tapping sounds using long nails, humming, the sound of crinkling paper, turning pages and soap cutting. Some also use visual triggers such as brush strokes, mixing paint, popping bubbles or calligraphy.

Stress Reduction:

ASMR is a pleasurable sensation that one might describe to be clouding their heads, and moving down the back of their neck, and in some cases, their spine. Many people have reported that it has a calming effect that relieves them from stress. Research shows that other than having a calming effect, it also slows down pulse rate by as much as 3.41 beats. The experience of ASMR is highly dependent on an individual’s level of sensitivity, which explains why some people don’t enjoy it. Although it is largely praised and seen as a method to reduce stress, ASMR cannot completely replace therapy. However, it can be a coping strategy used alongside a stress regulator.

ASMR as a Coping Mechanism:

In 2018, a study on ASMR being characterized by reliable changes in effect and physiology noted that ASMR videos have the following effects on viewers:

  • Allows them to fall asleep more easily
  • Lets them unwind and relax after a long day
  • Gives rise to feelings of comfort in individuals
  • Serves as a distraction from anxiety and pain
  • Acts as a mood enhancer in people
  • Relieves them from symptoms of anxiety and pain.

People who indulge in ASMR show improved overall mental health. These people report lower blood pressure, fewer headaches and lower experiences of anxiety.

Also Read: 10 Mood Boosters That are for free

Exploring More Purposes:

Research related to ASMR is relatively new. While it still has a long way to go, studies in this field have had promising outcomes.

  • ADHD: ASMR enhances concentration in individuals. This suggests that it might be of some use to people with ADHD, who have trouble concentrating.
  • Autism: It might be helpful as a way to improve the regulation of emotions. However, in some cases, overstimulation can have the opposite effect.
  • Improved Sleep: ASMR activates the release of the hormone oxytocin, which results in feelings of comfort and relaxation. This helps in improving sleep issues. Improved sleep can also be attributed to the induction of brain signals that help you sleep.
It’s Okay If It’s Not for You:

Many people find ASMR to be boring, or even unsettling in some cases. Sometimes, this might just be because they haven’t found the right stimulus for them. However, that isn’t always the case. It doesn’t work for some people. ASMR might have the opposite effect on these people. Individuals who are more likely to experience ASMR show

  • Higher neuroticism (Tendency towards negative feelings like anxiety)
  • Higher openness to experience
  • Higher Introversion
  • Lower Agreeableness

Misophonia: It characterizes a strong dislike or even hatred towards sounds. In people who experience Misophonia, auditory ASMR can serve as a negative trigger. They might experience distress, unease, or even panic because of it.

In case ASMR does not work for you, don’t be bothered by it. This might be a good time to consider backing away from the ASMR world. If you proceed to find a stimulus that works for you, do not rush. Take your time to explore options to avoid overstimulating yourself, or causing harm to your mental health.

Read More: 7 Positive Psychology Habits for Everyday Life

Summing Up

Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response is an evolving coping technique with many advantages. People indulge in ASMR as a relaxation method, or even just as a way to pass the time. As a relatively new topic of research, the true benefits of this phenomenon are still to be explored. If the concept of ASMR has enticed you, go ahead and give it a try. Explore different stimuli and see how your brain and body react to them. In case you do not experience the soothing effects of ASMR even after dabbling in different kinds of stimuli, it’s okay to move on. After all, not all humans are the same. However, it is worth giving a shot since the risk is low and the results are seemingly positive.

In some people, ASMR is observed almost immediately after exposure to stimuli. Others might take some time to delve into it before experiencing the goosebumps. Some people build tolerance to stimuli, and the response becomes weaker. If you find yourself in this situation, take a break from the world of ASMR. You can dive back into it once you are ready. In case you are someone who uses ASMR regularly to relieve symptoms of anxiety or stress, it might be a good idea to reach out to a therapist. ASMR can only be a temporary solution to your problems. It is important to remember that ASMR is not an alternative to therapy, but just one of the many methods that help in coping with your problems.

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