No time to get a stress-relieving massage in real life? For some people, simply watching someone receive a head massage is almost as calming.
There are hundreds of videos on YouTube that trigger ASMR, or autonomous sensory meridian response, but one of the most popular is from Itsblitzzz, aka Julia. For 35 minutes, Julia massages, touches and plays with her friend Elizabeth’s head and neck while whispering — soft voices and whispers trigger a euphoric, tingling sensation in people sensitive to it. Since posting her latest video in December, it has been viewed more 700,000 times. Some of her other massage videos have been watched millions of times.
A head and neck message is a great way to relieve stress. But why does watching someone else get a head message feel so good?
“These videos are truly helping people,” Julia, the Los Angeles-based video producer, told TODAY via email. “I have received messages from people who claim they are getting the best sleep of their lives after they began watching my videos,” she wrote.
Julia experiences ASMR, too, and this sensitivity guides her as she creates the videos. Even before she heard of ASMR, she remembers experiencing a full body feeling when someone played with her hair or a teacher spoke in a calm, soft voice. She’s very drawn to hands, for example, and she makes sure her nails are clean and trimmed and that her hand motions are fluid.
“It’s a physical sensation that begins in the scalp and extends through the body,” she explains. “Many people classify it is as a tingling sensation. To me, it feels like you are entering a conscious trance. It's almost a meditative state.”
Some people respond to shaving and cutting soap, matches scratching on a box, whispering voice or folding towels. There’s a wide variety of ASMR videos for all of these triggers. Julia suspect so many exist because everyone experiences the phenomenon uniquely.
“ASMR is very subjective. Everyone has different triggers and preferences," she said. "The physical sensation differs from person to person."
For this video, Julia focused on light touches.
Sometimes she isn’t even placing her hands on Elizabeth’s skin just floating above it. While Elizabeth certainly relaxes during the massage viewers also feels lulled.
“Even those who don't experience the physical sensation of ASMR may still feel deeply relaxed from watching someone else enter into a state of relaxation," Julia said.