Home Mental Health & Well-Being Students Turn to ASMR Videos for Stress Relief and Improved Focus, Reveals New Study

Students Turn to ASMR Videos for Stress Relief and Improved Focus, Reveals New Study

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In recent years, a new trend has emerged on the digital landscape, particularly among the student community. Autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR), a phenomenon characterised by a tingling sensation in response to various auditory and visual stimuli, has gained significant traction. This sensory experience, often described as “brain tingles”, is becoming increasingly popular for relaxation, stress reduction, and focus, especially among students.

ASMR has transformed social media, with platforms like YouTube and TikTok brimming with content designed to elicit this unique response. The UK has witnessed a staggering 180% increase in searches for ASMR in the past three months, indicating its rising popularity. From the comforting patter of rain on a window to the hypnotic squish of a marshmallow, these soundscapes are not just auditory experiences but a gateway to tranquillity.

ASMR is not just a passing trend but a form of stimulating relaxation. According to Psychology Today, it’s a phenomenon where certain stimuli, like typing, tapping, humming, or hair brushing, trigger a relaxing tingling sensation in the listener. However, it’s important to note that ASMR responses vary widely among individuals. While some experience pronounced tingling sensations, others find these sounds simply relaxing or helpful as a sleep aid.

With 75% of UK students reporting symptoms of stress and anxiety during exam seasons, many are turning to ASMR as a coping mechanism. A 2022 study revealed that participants could ease their anxiety through ASMR videos. Moreover, a 2023 study indicated that ASMR could also assist students in falling asleep, with one participant likening the effect to taking a sleeping pill.

An analysis of YouTube videos from Unidays reveals the most popular ASMR triggers. Topping the list is the sound of rain, classified as ‘pink noise’ and having over 1.1 billion views from the top 20 videos alone. Other popular triggers include dripping water, squishing, drinking, crunchy food, high-pitched sounds, low-pitched sounds, and spray sounds. These auditory experiences have been found to aid in relaxation, reduce anxiety, and enhance focus, particularly during stressful periods like exams.

ASMR Shortbread, a Scottish ASMRtist with 154K subscribers on YouTube, shares her journey into the world of ASMR. While studying Mandarin Chinese at university, she discovered ASMR videos, which not only provided relaxation but also supported her language learning. Her followers particularly enjoy when she incorporates background music or rain sounds into her videos, as well as spa therapy sounds like hair brushing and washing.

The rise of ASMR content aligns with the broader conversation about digital mental health. In an age where stressors are ever-present, particularly in academic settings, ASMR offers a digital sanctuary for students. This phenomenon underscores the potential of digital platforms to positively impact mental well-being, offering accessible tools for relaxation and focus enhancement.

To determine the most popular ASMR triggers, researchers analysed view counts of the top 20 YouTube videos in leading ASMR genres, encompassing a range of auditory experiences. These genres, from the sound of rain to the squish of marshmallows, were meticulously chosen based on their ability to elicit the ASMR response.

For the optimal experience, it is recommended to use headphones when tuning into ASMR videos. This allows for a more immersive and intimate experience, enhancing the soothing effects of the sounds. Whether the goal is to alleviate anxiety, improve concentration, or simply find a moment of peace, ASMR videos offer a versatile and accessible solution.

As the understanding of ASMR grows, so does its potential as a tool for digital wellness. This trend reflects a broader movement towards recognising and leveraging digital platforms as a means of supporting mental health and well-being. With an increasing number of students and others turning to ASMR for relief and relaxation, it stands as a testament to the evolving landscape of digital mental health solutions.

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