Self-care that causes brain tingles

Self-care that causes brain tingles

Whispering, finger tapping, slime squishing, hair brushing – these are just some of the popular triggers in autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR) videos. You most likely have come across the popular self-care trend – after all, there are over 13 million videos of the phenomenon on YouTube.

ASMR refers to an involuntary tingling sensation, usually starting at the top of the head and spreading down the body. It can also elicit a sense of deep relaxation. Those who enjoy ASMR videos often develop preferences for certain visual or auditory stimuli, usually referred to as triggers.

But can ASMR be a legitimate self-care habit? The short answer is yes.

According to Dr. Srikrishna Mylavarapu, a psychiatrist with Aurora Health Care, viewers may see an “improvement in concentration and sleep, and a reduction in anxiety and chronic pain problems.”

Using ASMR as a relaxation technique has risen in popularity due to its accessibility. All you need is a device that connects to the internet. “Anyone who would like to use nonpharmacological means to reduce anxiety, and improve sleep or concentration can try implementing it,” Dr. Mylavarapu says.

Emerging research reveals that ASMR lights up regions of the brain associated with reward and emotional arousal. Another study indicates that viewers experience a slower heart rate. However, Dr. Mylavarapu says that more research is needed to confirm the positive effects ASMR has on mental health.

As with many self-care habits, ASMR is about personal preference. It may take time to find what triggers the sought-after “brain tingles.” Triggers are often a combination of sight, sound and touch stimuli.

Popular triggers include:
  • Soft speaking or whispering
  • Light touching or tapping
  • Squishing, crunching or ruffling sounds
  • Hair brushing or styling
  • Deliberate hand movements
  • Close personal attention
  • Light patterns
  • Repetitive tasks

While potential side effects of ASMR are currently unknown, Dr. Mylavarapu notes that some may not enjoy it, especially if you have a sound-related disorder, such as misophonia. Others may find watching it awkward or uncomfortable.

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Sammy Kalski