I would like to start this post by saying that I ate avocado toast during the same week that I, a millennial by every definition, bought my first home – so suck it Tim Gurner. I will have my avocado toast and eat it, too.
For a good portion of my life, I’ve had anxiety. Tightness in my chest, nausea, and headaches that feel like they’re pulling my brain out of my ears are just a few of my symptoms during a flareup. I was clinically diagnosed back in 2012 as having Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, and Somatic Symptom Disorder [Yes – I’m aware that every symptom on WebMD results in cancer.]
My anxiety has been higher than usual lately [probably because I did just buy my first home] and it’s caused me to research different ways to cope. I’ve tried the medicinal approach twice before. I’ve been on Prozac, which after three months did absolutely nothing for me, and I’ve been on Cymbalta. Cymbalta helped with my overall mood stability and generalized anxiety, but I was informed by a medical professional to stop taking the medicine immediately and I experienced what’s called “brain zaps.”
I thought I was dying. Truly, I thought I was dying. What was this medicine doing to me that, by suddenly stopping, I was having what I thought was a stroke every 5-10 minutes twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week for nearly a month? I just can’t imagine – so I vowed to never take that shit again.
I’ve written about my depression/anxiety a few times, but it’s constantly changing so what I felt a few months ago isn’t at all what I feel today. My anxiety is tricky. I can go days without having an episode and then suddenly I’m shopping for honey at Kroger and I break out into a cold sweat and have to leave immediately because the aisles were closing in around me. It’s tough, and even tougher when I refuse to go the medicinal route.
Keep in mind, I’m not a holistic healing kind of gal [though I have tried holistic approaches for various ailments that worked for me]. I love a good Ibuprofen. I just can’t agree with the physical alteration of the chemicals that make me….me. What I have been focusing on lately is a simple question: what makes me relax?
So, what makes me relax?
Soaking my feet in a foot spa, a warm shower, the scent of lavender, gifs to control breathing, rubbing behind my labrador’s ear [the softest ears EVER…17/10 would give pets for eternity], snuggling under a blanket, and watching/listening to my latest venture – ASMR videos.
ASMR stands for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response. The best way to explain what ASMR feels like is to give you an example that everyone can relate to. You know that feeling when you’re getting your hair washed at the salon and your body suddenly turns into a noodle, your head tingles, and you feel like you have entered the gates of Heaven? Ding ding ding! You just experienced ASMR. To read more about it and the different stimuli/triggers, click here.
Up until two weeks ago, I had no clue what ASMR was – but! I had experienced it most of my life and just didn’t know the official term for it. Different people experience ASMR in different ways. “Tingles” is the most common physical sensation, though you can also have chills or “waves” through your head and down into your spine. Psychological sensations such as total relaxation, calmness, euphoria, and sleepiness are the most common. I tend to experience the psychological sensations more than the physical.
How did I discover ASMR, you ask? I was taking a journey through dark side of YouTube [I love conspiracy theories] and stumbled across an ASMR video and I have been hooked ever since. My favorite account is Gentle Whispering ASMR. Her name is Maria and she is truly a goddess. The videos take some adjusting, as I found it extremely awkward at first. This was mostly because I didn’t really understand what I was watching. Six hours later, however, I realized I may have just found my cure [I emphasize my because everyone is different, of course] for an anxiety flare up.
I mentioned before that ASMR videos can be awkward to watch at first. I was actually a little embarrassed to tell people I was watching them because, well…I’ll say this – if your mom was to walk in on you watching one and had no idea what it was, she’d probably think you were up to no good.
Unfortunately, there is data to back up your mom’s reaction. According to one of the few studies that has been done on ASMR, 5% of the participants used ASMR videos as a sexual stimulant. This is not their intended purpose. Their intended purpose is to ease your mind and create a relaxed environment, which is what they do for me and what I hope they’ll do for you.
Everyone is different and what works on one person may have no affect on another. ASMR works like a charm for me, and once I finish a video I am completely and totally at peace. For anyone who doesn’t like the medicinal approach to dealing with anxiety or for anyone who just wants to relieve stress, I highly recommend giving ASMR videos a chance.