Have you ever experienced that wonderful, tingling sensation near the crown of your head after hearing someone whisper, or crinkle a bag, or cut through construction paper? Well, there's a name for that, my friends; it's something called an autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR). And simulating these weirdly feel-good experiences is a straight-up phenomenon on the internet these days — so much so that there are even ASMR videos that help with stress, made especially for those moments during your day when you just need to check out of real life for a second, and lose yourself in a strangely calming YouTube video, instead.
Now, as you might have already gathered, ASMR can be kind of hard to describe. According to research published in the scientific journal PLOS One, ASMR refers to "the experience of tingling sensations in the crown of the head, in response to a range of audio-visual triggers such as whispering, tapping, and hand movements."
But the coolest thing about ASMR is that it really can shift what's going on in your mind and body in a positive, calming, stress-relieving way. In the PLOS One study, the researchers wrote,
Findings indicate that ASMR is a reliable and physiologically-rooted experience that may have therapeutic benefits for mental and physical health.
The one catch here, the researchers pointed out in the study, is that the stress relief effects of ASMR only happen in people who experience the phenomenon (i.e. researchers aren't quite sure why, but not everyone can experience ASMR). But if you're someone who does experience ASMR in response to the right triggers, the study found that the phenomenon is "associated with reduced heart rate and increased skin conductance levels." In other words, there's a very real, bodily reduction in stress that can happen when it comes to ASMR.
Now, are ASMR videos a little odd? I'm going to go ahead and answer that with my own opinion and say, yes, y'all, they are. But as someone who experiences that little brain tingle, I highly recommend taking a few minutes to give yourself the gift of watching or listening to a little ASMR. Here are a few videos to get you started.