An HSP’s Personal Experience with ASMR

ASMR, or Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, is a very hot topic these days for those seeking relief from the stresses and distresses of life. If you don’t know what ASMR is, read this article first.

This phenomenon just recently came to my attention. And I became curious. Whenever something involves the senses, it gets my immediate scrutiny. So, I went to YouTube to give it a try.

I searched out several different interpretations offered by different creators. On every one of them I found that I had to stop the video after the first minute or so. The sounds that were being pumped into my headphones were annoying to me. Those sounds that were supposed to be soothing were overstimulating my nervous system in a negative way. Much in the same way that a clothing label promptly begins to “annoy” the part of my body it touches, causing me sensory anxiety.

Image by Wokandapix from Pixabay

I do, on an intellectual level, understand how those sounds may trigger comfort and peace to someone. But to me, they were just the opposite. At first, I thought that maybe it was that particular creator’s video – perhaps in the way they presented the sound – that was the problem for me. However, after waiting enough time to regain my calm, I would try a different person’s rendition of the same sounds. In my personal experiment those sounds were whispers and crinkling paper, sometimes on a backdrop of soothing music, sometimes by themselves. I became overstimulated each time.

I found this interesting. I had gone into my examination hopeful. In the past, I’ve had a pleasant and thoroughly calming effect arise from another person “breaking an egg over my head.” To do this little exercise, you sit upright while another person gently taps the top of your head (as if to crack an egg), then places the tips of their fingers where the tap occurred. Simulating the egg dripping down your head, they begin to slide each finger slowly and lightly down everywhere except your face. They do this until they reach your shoulders. I didn’t know it at the time, but this process would fall under the ASMR umbrella of triggers. A type of gentle massage.

ASMR affects each person differently according to their own unique nervous system. So, I suspect that these are triggers that for someone else are soothing but are uncomfortable for me.

I also suspect that the response is increased in the HSP because of our increased sensory sensitivities. We have more finely tuned nervous systems that arouse easily to subtle stimuli. Which direction that arousal goes, pleasurable or annoying, is found in the intricacies of our individual makeup.

Even though my personal research did not turn out as I hoped it would, I would still encourage any HSP to find their own individual ASMR triggers and make use of them. We must be kind to ourselves and making use of ASMR techniques is one way in which we can do that.

Copyright 2021, Monica Nelson

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