Posts tagged with "Relaxing"

Brain tingles: First study of its kind reveals physiological benefits of ASMR

April 5, 2019

It’s a phenomenon that is trending on social media, but is rarely discussed elsewhere. Autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR) is described by most who experience it as a tingling, warm, relaxing sensation that starts in your brain and spreads throughout your body. It is triggered by a variety of subtle stimuli, such as whispering or the sound of crinkling paper—and researchers are now finding that it may benefit both mental and physical health.

In the first study of its kind into the physiological underpinnings of ASMR, researchers from the UK’s University of Sheffield and Manchester Metropolitan University have found that people who experience the phenomenon have significantly reduced heart rates compared to those who do not.

And it truly is a phenomenon: Today, there are more than 13 million ASMR-triggering videos on YouTube—and they range in subject matter from  medical examinations to haircuts and massages, to (strangely enough) towel-folding tutorials. Viewers say they watch the videos to relax, relieve stress, or sleep better.

Dr. Giulia Poerio, of the University of Sheffield’s Department of Psychology, comments, “Lots of people report experiencing ASMR since childhood and awareness of the sensation has risen dramatically over the past decade due to internet sites such as YouTube and Reddit.

She notes, “Our studies show that ASMR videos do, indeed, have the relaxing effect [that has been] anecdotally reported— but only in people who experience the feeling.”

In one experiment, for example, the researchers studied the physiological changes that occurred when participants watched two different ASMR videos and one control (non-ASMR) video in a laboratory setting. Half of those who took part in the study were recruited because they identified as experiencing ASMR, while the other half were recruited as age- and gender-matched controls who did not experience ASMR.

The results demonstrated that those who experience ASMR showed significantly greater reductions in their heart rates when watching ASMR videos (an average decrease of 3.14 beats per minute) compared to those who do not. They also showed significant increases in positive emotions including relaxation and feelings of social connection.

Dr. Poerio remarked, “What’s interesting is that the average reductions in heart rate experienced by our ASMR participants was comparable to other research findings on the physiological effects of stress-reduction techniques such as music and mindfulness.”

In another experiment, over 1,000 participants completed an online survey after watching a selection of ASMR and control (non-ASMR) video clips—stating how frequently they experienced ‘tingles’ and their emotional response to each video. Those who experience ASMR were also asked also answered questions about their common ASMR triggers and general experiences of ASMR.

Dr. Tom Hostler, a lecturer in Psychology at Manchester Metropolitan University, said: “The online study found that people who get ASMR reported feeling both more excited and more calm, as well as less stressed and less sad after watching ASMR videos, compared to people who don’t get ASMR.

“It has been widely anecdotally reported that ASMR helps people to relax, but ours is the first published experiment to show these changes in emotion. We also showed that it wasn’t just watching videos in general that had this effect, as ASMR participants didn’t respond to the ‘control’ videos we showed them in the same way.”

The paper, “More than a feeling: Autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR) is characterized by reliable changes in affect and physiology” has been published in the journal, PLOS One

Research contact:  g.poerio@sheffield.ac.uk

Stressed out? If yoga doesn’t work, try cuddling a cow

December 13, 2018

Americans who are “having a cow” about politics, money, family—whatever—can now hug the actual animal for comfort.

It’s true: Stressed out folks literally are embracing cows for the endorphins that are produced during a feel-good session. For $300, you get a “threesome”—but not in the sexual sense. Rather, the cost of entry enables two humans to caress, brush, and play with one convivial cow for 90 minutes. .

Sessions tend to be monitored and facilitated by a licensed counselor—and the health treatment is, in fact, rooted in science, according to a recent report by Metro US. Indeed, health experts claim that  cow cuddling provides might make it a good alternative for people who just can’t get into meditation.

One of the many benefits to meditation is the ability to slow down your heart rate, which can work wonders for alleviating or even banishing anxiety. Cow cuddling can do the same thing, according to Mountain Horse Farm, a wellness retreat in Naples, New York, that offers this experience.

Cows have a body temperature that is slightly higher than humans and their heart rate is lower than ours,” the retreat explains on its website. “Cuddling up with a cow, feeling that lower heart rate and higher body temperature, is very relaxing.”

Think of it as therapy that doesn’t require you to say a word. “They will pick up on what’s going on inside and sense if you are happy, sad, feel lost, anxious, or are excited and they will respond to that without judgment, ego. or agenda,” the Mountain Horse Farm website explains. They’re sensitive, intuitive creatures, they explain, which makes them perfect for sensing your emotions and responding to your subtle body language.

Right now, the farm is home to two cows, Bonnie and Bella. Bonnie is just 11 months old and is still  very playful. She loves to be petted and brushed. Bella is a sweet two-year-old cow that also loves to be cuddled and brushed—although her biggest joy is eating. Both cows are being raised as pets and will enjoy a long and happy life on the farm.

Research contact: info@mountainhorsefarm