People who experience ASMR are as selective about their preferences as people are about favorite foods or music. Some content is pleasing to many people; some are acquired tastes. The vastness of the ASMR virtual library means you’ll find your favorite taste, if you’re willing to explore. The most important element to getting started consuming ASMR content is to find out what you like, since it is such a deeply personal experience.
ASMR stimuli can be grouped into four general categories:
- Touch (what you touch or watch someone touch or interact with): fingernails tapping, turning pages of a magazine, manipulating objects that click.
- Visual/Observational (what you see/watch): slow, rhythmic, sensual (but nonsexual) gestures; soft lighting.
- Audio triggers (what you hear): whispering, soft talk; talking slowly using gentle, soothing tones and volume, emoting; eating sounds; crackling fire.
- Scenario/participatory (role-playing): massages, spa treatments, barber/salon visits, medical exams, tea service, drinks mixed and poured as though at a bar, applying makeup.
According to ASMR University, ASMR stimuli share many of the same qualities. They’re repetitive, methodical, occur at a steady pace and volume, and non-threatening. The creators of these stimuli convey particular dispositions, which include kind, caring, empathic, attentive, focused, trustworthy, dedicated, and expert.
Experiment and watch many different styles of video and audio content. What feels pleasurable? What calms you? What agitates you? Tuning into your response—which may be involuntary and unequivocal—is part of sorting out your ASMR preferences. Listening to a bedtime story may help you sleep, but the gentle tapping of fingernails on wooden beads might focus your mind and settle racing thoughts. Slurping noodles or crunching honeycomb may leave you nonplussed, but there are thousands of alternatives.
Navigating Resources Online
YouTube is far and away the largest and ever-replenishing resource for ASMR audio and video, providing endless free choice. A tolerance for ads is required, as well as the patience to discern and discover content that resonates with you. Keep in mind that not all content is created equal, and not all content will be beneficial or appealing to you. For the ASMR novice or curious viewer, YouTube offers unlimited choice and depth, as well as breadth; you will find what elicits brain tingles or euphoria for you, and the site’s algorithms will be sure to deliver you more of that.
Audible’s library of audio content includes original productions of whispery bedtime stories, recordings of situational role-plays (such as getting a haircut or setting up a tea party), and even sleep hypnosis.
Listening to podcasts (through Apple, Spotify, Audible, and other apps) is another free and diverse option for fresh, bingeable content. A search for ASMR yields dozens of options, spanning the spectrum of content categories (from shuffling footsteps on concrete to sensual role play).
ASMR can also be triggered in person, like when attending a class or a performance. Intimate, immersive ASMR events, such as New York City’s Whisperlodge, were growing in popularity pre-pandemic.
You can of course listen or watch ASMR content wherever you’d like; unlike binaural music or hypnosis, its intention is not to enter an altered state. If you are watching or listening to alleviate anxiety or depression, you might want to create a ritual space, or at the very least a regular routine. Clear your schedule, set aside enough time to achieve the desired effect. Find a quiet and private space, if you prefer privacy. Instead of streaming content as a distraction, make a calming ritual out of it and allow the preparation of the space to help with beneficial effects.
More Anecdotal but Delightful Benefits of ASMR
It can relax you. Like other sounds people consider calming—downtempo music, rain drumming on a roof, ocean waves caressing sand, lullabies—some ASMR content is simply relaxing. You do not need to experience four-alarm brain tingles to reap the benefits of listening to a series of bedtime stories, quasi-whispered by trained actors. Lots of ASMR content offers equal-opportunity engagement.
It can engage and (quietly) distract you from online and media noise. Even a shallow dive into ASMR content yields a fascinating trove: endlessly creative use of materials that clink, rustle, clack, swoosh, brush, smoosh, and slurp. ASMRtists are virtuosos, offering novelty, calm, and heartfelt engagement with sometimes little more than their voice.
It can augment your mindfulness practices. Some research has shown that the ability to experience ASMR correlates to an openness to mindfulness practices and a capacity for interoception. In other words, if you experience ASMR, your neurobiology is likely primed for meditation, visualization, yoga nidra, and more. Find a category of ASMR you are attuned to and integrate it into a daily practice: unwinding after a long workday or destressing after a contentious discussion.
It can give your mind a breather at bedtime. Like other relaxing music or soundtracks, ASMR audio and videos can be queued up in a playlist to help you get to sleep. The comments fields of many online ASMR videos are stacked with grateful affirmations from viewers who never managed to stay awake for the entire thing.
Keep Your Brain Tingling with “5 Ways to Use Sound for Energy Tingling.”