Between Netflix, Facebook and YouTube, many, if not all, of us have access to loads and loads of mindless content to help us relax, engage, or procrastinate – videos and shows we queue up to satisfy some type of need, or fill up some kind of space. But what if instead of doing this mindlessly, we did it mindfully?
As part of my thesis research, I’ve been studying the positive, satisfying effects of Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response videos, or ASMR videos. For some, tuning in to this realm of content can have real, health benefits which are similar to the effects of practicing mindfulness.
Today, I will give you a little of the history behind ASMR, introduce you to the wide range of the video content in existence, and demonstrate how its similarity to mindfulness techniques can help you relieve stress and have a primarily positive experience with ASMR.
So, here’s a little background on ASMR so you know what we’re getting into.
What started as a niche audio community on YouTube is now a well-known, interdisciplinary and cross-platform anomaly. Within the last five years, the term ASMR has been created to describe the physical and psychological reaction many viewers experience as a result of watching these videos.
Now, the term ASMR describes not just that response, but the videos themselves.
Thomas Hostler, writer for The Conversation, tells us that ASMR originated, almost accidentally, from the 1980s television series The Joy of Painting hosted by Bob Ross (Hostler, 2018).
From there, ASMR found its way online, and many have been following along with Ross’ tutorials, creating their own spin-offs of the show, and calling themselves ASMRtists.
Thus, the two main elements of ASMR were formed – the soft, instructional whispers paired with satisfying visuals like paint being dragged across a canvas.
But, moving forward, there’s now a lot more variation to ASMR. Bob just laid the foundation.
Secondly, the nature of meme culture has something to do with this perpetuation of altered content, as it describes the development of ASMR niche communities. Making its way from YouTube to other social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram, ASMR is the main influence of what are known as “satisfying” videos. Here, users can be seen slicing into soap, aligning inanimate objects, piping pastries, etc.
This is really what ASMR is about – triggering that positive reaction or response.
Finally, a recent, in-depth study from the University of Sheffield, in the United Kingdom has found that by tuning in to ASMR content, experiencers can actually benefit from increased relaxation and decreased stress (Poerio, 2018). This same study likened the positive effects from ASMR to those of mindfulness – the practice of grounding, awareness techniques which calm and focus the body’s attention.
Much like I’m doing now and throughout my speech to stay present and composed.
In this way, ASMR can be an antidote for stress, depression, anxiety, insomnia, and other mental illnesses.
So, I’d like to encourage you to focus on what you find satisfying or relaxing.
I hope you learned a little bit about the mindful consumption of ASMR and will think about using it the next time you feel stressed or can’t sleep.