Natural Stress Relief : Tingles and ASMR

Social hair grooming is a typical trigger of ASMR
Social hair grooming is a typical trigger of ASMR

Take a Moment to Reflect

Many people will have memories from childhood of being at the hairdresser or doctors and getting a strong tingling sensation over their scalp, neck and shoulders and maybe other parts of their skin as well. The effect is a natural reflex to many innocuous activities that take place in a completely safe social environment. Our awareness of this sense of social harmony reinforces the sense of belonging to this place and time. The resulting sensations we feel can range from a mild sense of peace to what has been termed ASMR – a profound sense of absolute security, safety and harmony accompanied by a tingling sensation over the skin that obliterates thought in an overwhelming state of bliss.

The tingles mentioned are likely hard-wired into humans as a social reflex to do with grooming and bonding. This stuff is deeply buried in the irrational parts of the brain along with other emotional reflexes such as love and attraction, all of which are beyond our concious control. However, knowing that we can trigger reflexive responses with the right kind of stimulus is pretty cool and a community has sprung up in recent years centred around ASMR “tingles” and the incredibly relaxing effects that they have on our minds and being.

The triggers for tingles are ever so gentle and typically centre around sight, sound and touch, and to a lesser extent smells and tastes that trigger memories that in turn trigger the tingles.

It’s “ASMR”: What On Earth Does That Mean?

This stands for autonomous sensory meridian response. Being a simple soul I find “tingles” easier but that word can be a bit too general and ambiguous for many people, so some people went on a hunt for something that could capture the experience a bit more specifically. The term ASMR was credited to Jennifer Allen on the founding of the ASMR Facebook group in 2010. The reasoning behind the term (if you care) goes along these lines:

  • “Autonomous”, since the effect is a reflex just the same as when you prick yourself on a pin or scald yourself on something hot.
  • “Sensory”, since the triggers are things you feel, hear etc.
  • “Meridian”, meaning “peak”, pertaining to the euphoria of the tingles. The feeling is extremely relaxing and pleasurable, emptying the mind of thoughts and replacing it with bliss.
  • “Response”, since the tingles are caused by something else.

All in all then, ASMR is a blissful experience brought on by sensory triggers affirming a social situation of absolute safety and security. It’s worth noting that this includes situations of “perfect solitude” by say, being in the moment with the world on your own, but the company of other people can trigger stronger effects in both magnitude and duration.

The innocuous activities of other people in a safe environment are typical triggers of ASMR
The innocuous activities of other people in a safe environment are typical triggers of ASMR

How Can ASMR Benefit You?

As I described previously, ASMR stills the mind and body naturally and powerfully. Could it be that your mind is always racing in this ever-connected internet age? Need a release from your problems? Maybe you just need to clear some space in your mind for a moment. Modern people use their knowledge of ASMR to do all of these things using media made by their favourite ASMR artists. All you need is a suitable place and some time to kill.

There are bound to be a myriad of alternatives to the mainstream ASMR artist community, and indeed I have a few ideas of my own I’d like to explore pertaining to weather sounds and ambient urban sounds. A quick Google search turns up various communities and resources. All I need to do myself is to find my favourite.

The route into the world of ASMR is basically free, assuming you have access to YouTube and the like. You can spend money if you wish by sponsoring your favourite artists, assuming you really appreciate their work and the help they provide.

Pets also seem to get ASMR as a part of the social bonding process
Pets also seem to get ASMR as a part of the social bonding process

That’s Enough Mumbo Jumbo and Cat Pictures. Let’s Have a Go at ASMR, Right Now!

People have different triggers and some don’t respond to triggers at all, so this next part might be a bit hit-and-miss. Just browsing YouTube artists I found some triggered me more easily than others and this makes sense if you think how personal tastes and habits are, a bit like asking someone what their favourite flavour of ice cream is when presented with 50 different options.

For this to work you need to be wearing headphones or ear buds. The artist uses a 3D microphone to recreate the sound as if you were right there and they were interacting with you in person. Then, pick a video below that you like the theme of (you can always change your mind) and watch a few minutes. Just let yourself be in the moment and relax. Expect nothing. Whatever happens, happens.

Hair and Scalp ASMR
Chalk on a Blackboard ASMR
A Top 120 of Heather Feather’s ASMR Triggers
Old Style Italian Barber ASMR
Science Fiction Roleplay ASMR

I was a bit naughty and switched the 3rd video after my initial publishing due to a request. If you saw it and want it linking again I can do so in the comments.

Explore Your Mind and Take Control with These People

I am very new to the ASMR community but I’m extremely familiar with the subject matter. To be honest I never even knew the phenomenon had a name, let alone a whole community of people out there exploring it! So, here are the initial communities that I’ve found:

I really hope you found some of that illuminating because for me, this is another one of those moments when the internet just got cooler. If there is one word of warning I would give, it’s be careful how much time you spend on these videos. It’s very, very easy to let hours fall by without even realising! Tell me about your ASMR experiences in the comment section below because I would love to learn more about this phenomenon.

9 Replies to “Natural Stress Relief : Tingles and ASMR”

  1. I’ve never heard of this…I mean I know what you’re talking about, but I didn’t know there was an official name for it…or that it was something anybody was paying attention too..

    Are there any studies out there about this that you know off? If so could you direct me to them? Interesting stuff. Well, you lean something new everyday.

    1. Hi Dave,

      All I’ve heard about myself are the communities on YouTube and Facebook. The YouTube one is a lot of fun.

  2. Ha! Interesting … I myself am a fan of relaxing sounds and sometimes I use youtube to play indian chanting or other similar sounds to help me relax when I go to sleep. ASMR is also new to me I never heard about the word before, but now I did and know what it means thanks to you, its amazing what you can find on the internet these days. Thanks for the links too I’m checking the youtube links as first step.

  3. Hello there Cirian! I just wanted to thank you for introducing me to this usual be yet quite addictive world of ASMR! After starting to watch the videos on your page I began to feel myself becoming more and more enthralled by them. I don’t know what it is and until now I have never heard of ASMR, but this is something that is strangely relaxing. I only read at the bottom of your page after watching the videos that you mention spending hours watching them. I can see how this could be the case! Thank you for sharing this with us, I look forward to investigating this further.

    1. Hi Andrew, glad to show you something new. Likewise, I didn’t realise ASMR was so widespread or popular as it’s not the sort of thing that tends to pop up in conversation 🙂 I’ll be sure to do some more coverage of this intrigueing phenomenon.

  4. Wow, this is fascinating. I never knew that there was a name for this. I’ve always found it hard to describe to others. Some of my triggers include the sound of computer keyboard typing, the sound of a lawnmower, and whispering.
    Do you know if there are videos or recordings available of various ASMR trigger sounds?

    1. Hi Ian! It’s amazing how many triggers there are. I found on YouTube artists that will do lots of different trigger sounds in one video, in fact you can use the YouTube link at the bottom of my article and it has the ASMR search term preloaded into it.

      An artist I’m just discovering is “Heather Feather ASMR” and she has a video with 120 triggers in it! It’s pretty long (4.5 hours) but it has 2.5+ million views at the moment so it must be doing the trick 😉

      What I plan to do in the future is a few artist spotlight pieces covering the best artists I can find, so lots more good stuff coming up. Hope that helps. 🙂

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