Open YouTube, and you’ll see dozens of videos featuring tapping sounds, people writing or speaking softly. They’re part of the ASMR (autonomous sensory meridian response) trend, in which some people experience a tingling sensation and a deep sense of relaxation from certain sounds.
But one YouTuber takes it deeper. Amanda Freitaf, who runs the TrueJoy ASMR channel, combines ASMR stimuli with her Christian faith.
“In today’s age, a lot of us are dealing with anxiety, insomnia, and feeling lonely too sometimes. And I think it’s a great way to calm people, to use the word of God to bring peace to people in a very relaxing environment and spread the word of God,” she says.
YouTube features millions of ASMR videos, some of which get millions of views. But, the Christian ASMR community is still small — Broadview was only able to find fewer than two dozen channels.
Freitaf uses the relaxing triggers of ASMR to whisper or softly recite Bible passages, prayers for anxiety and fear, or even to create relaxing talks about faith.
She began making ASMR videos three years ago on her mainstream “Crystal ASMR” YouTube channel, after using videos to cope with her own anxiety. Now, as an ASMR video creator with more than 2000 subscribers, she says that she receives many messages from people who say her creations helped relieve their anxiety and stress.
“Please don’t stop making these videos. Your soothing voice especially in whispers along with the Word of God is so soothing,” one viewer commented on a video of Bible verses for anxiety.
Another wrote, “This video really spoke to me. It was like the mom I never had singing me a soft song to sleep … I suffer from extreme anxiety and depression and find so much comfort in your videos and voice specifically.”
The study of ASMR is relatively new in the field of psychology. Beverley Fredborg, a Toronto clinical psychology doctoral student who has researched ASMR, explains that while scientific research has not concluded that ASMR helps with mental health and stress, individuals who experience it often report that it does.
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“It’s trance-like, and the tingles they’re very pleasurable and intense … Some people report feelings of warmth. So it can be really relaxing for people who experience it,” Fredborg says.
She says that researchers are also trying to figure out why some people experience the sensation, while others do not. As of now, they predict there may be a genetic component. Researchers have also theorized that ASMR may closely resemble other personal bonding relationships, such as those between parents and infants or among couples. In other words, ASMR involves many of the same triggers experienced in close bonds, such as soft speaking and gentle touching, which may generate feelings of trust and relaxation. Additionally, the release of chemicals such as endorphins, dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin in the brain help individuals feel more relaxed.
Despite the positive impact ASMR can have for many people, Freitaf says that the community has faced stigma from those who see it as something sexual. As ASMR became more well-known and popular, some of that stigma began to diminish. Freitaf is determined to continue to share the message that most ASMR videos are not meant to be erotic but rather for relaxation and comfort.
“This is a channel where we are going to talk about God in a very laid-back fashion and at the same time, incorporate some ASMR triggers. I think that’s the perfect combo,” Freitaf says.
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