Ever since I can remember I have been trying to find ways to calm my anxiety, in turn hoping this would ease my depression. Something that would soothe the tightness in my chest, the queasiness in my stomach, and the aches in my head, neck, and back that are triggered by stress and anxiety. I have tried baking, cooking, breathing exercises, and painting, not to mention trying distraction methods like watching TV and movies. Yes, these have all helped but that effect wears off in no time.
This all changed within a year, when I stumbled across my first ASMR video on YouTube. ASMR stands for “Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response.”
The sole purpose of ASMR is to relax people. Ideally, ASMR videos are meant to give the viewer a relaxing tingle at the back of their head and/or spine. ASMR videos usually involve one or more of the following things:
• Gentle whispering
• Relaxing hand movements
• Smacking of the lips
• Nail tapping/scratching on hard surfaces such as tables
• Brushing sounds
Although it sounds scientific, only one study has been published on the phenomenon, despite the fact that everyone in the world experiences physical responses to sounds. ASMR is along the same lines of getting frightened by a loud noise or cringing at nails on a chalkboard, except instead of a negative response, these sounds promote relaxation. The 2015 study found that 98 percent of people who seek out ASMR videos watch them for relaxation purposes, and 70 percent watch them specifically for stress and anxiety relief. Many participants added that they use ASMR videos to help where other therapeutic and medical interventions have failed to make a difference.
Once I stumbled upon the term, I fell into a rabbit hole of ASMR YouTube videos for every ASMR trigger imaginable. There are videos with soft-spoken voices, whispering, accents, crinkling, writing sounds, keyboard typing, tapping, water pouring, and so much more.
Although, these aren’t the ones that soothe me. They don’t send my brain into an abyss of calmness and serenity. Oh no, it is in fact slime and soap cutting videos that take me to my happy place.
Video Type: Slime
The hallmarks of any good slime video are the pokes, prods, stretches, and folds. Watching people dip their fingers into goo and create popping and squishing noises ignites an instinctual response that’s either deeply unsettling or strangely satisfying to watch. These ASMR-inducing slime videos become even more hypnotising when other items are added into the mix, such as Styrofoam packing beads which act like bubble wrap, which just so happen to be another popular action featured in relaxation ASMR videos.
Slime is a soothing and calming approach to ASMR, which promotes relaxation and a therapeutic sense of well being, helping to de-stress. Boy, is this right. I can’t tell you how relaxing it is hearing the slime pop as its squished, hearing the different condiments put into the slime scratch together and create their unique sounds. I may not be happy to admit this, but slime has been the best method of relaxation for me to date.
Video Type: Soap Cutting
Carving soap bars into tiny cubes is so satisfying visually and aurally that there’s a whole series of videos depicting its many pleasures.
The premise is simple: all you see is a pair of hands cutting up soap in various ways. The videos typically have no music, because the sound of the soap being sliced and diced is so heavenly, you would never want anything to disturb it. You can find soaps of all different colours, shapes, sizes, and textures, and Instagrammers cut them up using various tools and techniques, such as cutting up cubes of soap, slices and even crunching soap curls.
Other Uses for ASMR Videos
In her Elite Daily article, Megan Cary talks about how ASMR has been invaluable in managing her insomnia: “ASMR has not only given me hours of sleep back, but it has also given me hours of my life back.” She says that the videos help her turn her mind off and get her to sleep much faster. Lifehack also published an article about reducing stress with ASMR, citing ASMR as a creative way to manage anxiety through the euphoric and relaxing state these videos can inspire.
It can take time to find the triggers that work for you, and there are people who don’t feel anything while watching ASMR videos. Chances are, if you have ASMR, you probably already know it and have an idea of what you respond to. Either way, it’s worth checking out, especially if you struggle with stress and anxiety.
I’ve been hesitant to tell people about my love of ASMR videos, but I know that I shouldn’t be. I watch ASMR videos when I’m feeling anxious, having trouble concentrating, experiencing pain, and even when I’m depressed or discouraged. Anything that can help soothe anxiety, depression, and chronic pain for so many people is clearly a valuable resource, no matter how odd it might seem.
About the Author
Bethany is a 20 year old from England; she suffers from Raynauds, Erythromelalgia, GERD, Hypermobility, Anxiety, Depression, and PTSD. She is also the creator of Young, Sick and Invisible: a Chronic Illness Blog.