Our brain is programmed to stress us. It does that a lot and on just about any subject. Like a lot of behavioral reactions, stress used to be (and still is) a survival mechanism that our brain used in order to inject alertness when needed. It’s there so we could harness internal resources and spring into action in a matter of seconds when hunted or hunting.
Fortunately for us, we rarely need to spring into action nowadays to avoid a prowling lion. Today, stress is not helpful and is often counter-productive. When stressed, most of us lose focus and are immersed in unpleasant feelings.
In the past, we needed all that “potential energy” when we faced fight or flight situations. It probably saved our lives more than once. Today, this energy still exists in each of us in certain situations; if it is not discharged via some sort of conduit (either physical or of a more neural nature), it slows us down.
That’s why we need to get creative in the way we release stress. We don’t have time to go on a vacation every week; often we even can’t step away from the almighty computer, tablet, or cell phone.
In comes ASMR. Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR) or “braingasm” is a sensation that manifests itself as a gentle shiver that runs from your head down your spine and limbs. This is not to be confused with the more commonly known chills or “goose bumps,” as those are called frisson. It might also feel like a sensation of tightening in your throat or tingling in the back of your scalp. Everyone feels it differently, but in all cases it feels awesome.
Some people report that it enters them into an amazingly relax euphoric state that leaves them surprisingly relaxed. Some people even report that it helps them to relax anxiety and other stress related symptoms.
It is triggered in two different ways:
It is usually achieved voluntarily by a specific thought or a pattern of thoughts that is unique to us. It happens when we think about something pleasant or recollect and experience we had enjoyed immensely in the past while our mind wanders.
This happens involuntarily when we’re exposed to an exterior stimuli such as visual, audio, nasal and some sort of cognitive stimuli such as paying close attention to someone talking to you with a soft-spoken intonation, explaining something obvious or teaching you something new. For some reason, paying attention to instructions works very well on the majority of the population, a sort of low level hypnosis, if you will.
According to the ASMR research and support site, the feeling can be triggered via these external triggers:
- Exposure to slow, accented, or unique speech patterns
- Viewing educational or instructive videos or lectures
- Experiencing a high empathetic or sympathetic reaction to an event
- Enjoying a piece of art or music
- Watching another person complete a task, often in a diligent, attentive manner. Examples: filling out a form, writing a check, going through a purse or bag, inspecting an item closely, etc.
- Close, personal attention from another person
- Haircuts, or other touch from another on head or back
Although the way in which you feel this sensation may vary, you probably felt it already but never told this to anyone. Why? Because up until 2010, ASMR didn’t exist anywhere (written at least) and everyone thought that it’s a feeling unique to them.
There are a lot of ASMR videos you can watch online that can trigger this sensation and it’s the fastest way to reduce your tension levels while working on a computer.
Since the research about ASMR is only in its infancy, there are no conclusive triggers that can be identified and if you have never experienced it, you probably never will.
Try it, you might find you even like it. You can listen to products unwrapping, role playing videos in which people reveal your destiny with tarots cards, napkins folding instructions and even haircutting sounds.
Have a good one.