TikTok has 689 million users worldwide and has become one of the most popular social media platforms. The video-sharing app allows millions of personalised short videos to be discovered and created by users, categorised from dance trends, skits and many more. In particular, a well-liked category found on the app is ASMR-based videos. These videos can range from users filming themselves cleaning bathroom sinks, organising kitchen cupboards, voice-over narrating in a soothing voice, or simply cutting into a block of sand – yep, really!
What is ASMR?
So, what is ASMR? Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response is a feeling of pleasure described as a tingling sensation. It starts at the crown of the head which can move down to the back of the neck and along the spine. This response is caused by a range of audio-visual triggers such as whispering, tapping, hand movements, white noise, brushing, scrubbing, placing objects on hard surfaces and even the sound of someone eating – might seem odd hmm?
ASMR helps to relax a person due to the brain releasing specific neurochemicals such as endorphins and oxytocin. These neurochemicals induce deep feelings of relaxation and calmness.
With the pressures of university exams, coursework deadlines and generally living independently for the first time, anxiety is common amongst students and young people. Nowadays, the push to decide what a person wants to do for the rest of their life at a young age no-doubt can be triggering. Needless to say, during times such as the COVID 19 pandemic where life was assumed to carry on, this last year has been filled with multiple additional anxieties.
According to the most extensive study measured on the topic, 1 in 5 students experience mental health problems with anxiety and depression topping the list. Furthermore, around 1 in 3 students have experienced an issue to seek the need for professional help.
How ASMR Can Help:
Can ASMR help reduce anxiety symptoms? There are many techniques and things which can be done to help relieve anxiety. Watching ASMR videos may not be an instant fix, but can be an accessible option when experiencing high levels. A study conducted at Swansea University in 2015 found that ASMR videos helped to alleviate symptoms of anxiety, depression, stress and insomnia with positive effect.
ASMR videos can provide comfort, a sense of reassurance and allow a person to focus on one thing rather than lots of different things at the same time. Often ASMR videos are presented by a person who plays the role of a loving parent with a gentle toned voice, allowing a person to feel in a place of safety and more at peace.
Not everyone will be able to experience the full effect of ASMR – may not experience it at all. However, different types of videos may increase the chances of feeling the effects more easily.
TikTok provides a large range of video content. Favourable amongst users who opt for ASMR style videos, cleaning, organisation, voice over and generally satisfying styled videos are a few to be found under the hashtag – #asmr.
‘TikToker’ and YouTuber, ‘thep00lguy’ – known as Miles – produces short videos sharing the start to finish process of him cleaning algae infested pools. He creates two different styles of videos – one being more audio-visual focused where he pours powder, tablet and liquid based chemicals into pools, and another where he narrates the process of his day spent cleaning a pool.
His down to earth, friendly nature and clean-cut video editing style provides the ASMR characteristics desired.
Find Here: @thep00lguy
Hannah Weir creates calming TikTok’s based on mindfulness and meditation in an ASMR approach. Her short videos range from cooking up sweet treats, journaling, motivational quotes and even making a cup of coffee. She creates a safe place for users to slow down and escape from the hecticness of reality. With relaxing music often playing in the background alongside her comforting voice, she encourages taking time for yourself and focusing on the little pleasures in life.
Find Here: @_hannahweir_
Based in Cumbria, ‘PG Car Valeting’ produces TikTok’s showing the start to finish process fully valeting cars. Specifically focusing on ASMR audio-visual cues, different processes are shared such as snow-foaming, spraying products, jet-washing, brushing and glossing. The videos create a sense of satisfaction when revealing the final result of the pristine car(s), reinforcing the feeling of trust and reassurance ASMR watchers seek.
Find Here: @pg.carvaleting
Something as simple as cutting or moulding different coloured sand shapes can provide a satisfying and pleasurable experience. The TikTok account – ‘sand.tagious’ – shares videos with millions of views of uncomplex videos focusing purely on sand. Audio-visual cues are exaggerated, targeting the senses for the brain’s neurochemicals to be released.
Find Here: @sand.tagious
Give ASMR Videos a Go?
Considering user experience on TikTok, the ease of opening up the app is straightforward and does not provide much thought. Therefore, using the app for a purpose such as ASMR is an accessible option when dealing with moments of anxiety.
Remember that this method is likely to not completely relieve anxiety long-term. It is encouraged to take time away from your phone and social media. Think about how much time you spend on socials and if this is always contributing a positive impact to your life. Most importantly, do not hesitate to get in touch with a professional and seek help if you are experiencing mental health issues.
Mental Health Helplines
Anxiety UK: 03444 775 774 (Mon – Fri: 9:30am – 5:30pm)
Samaritans: 116 123 (Available 24/7)
Mind UK: 0300 123 3393 (Mon – Fri: 9am – 6pm)
Shout: Text ‘SHOUT’ to 85258 (Available 24/7)