ASMR for Anxiety and the Benefits of Role Play ASMR in 2020

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She’s an “internet person,” as she sheepishly calls her vocation in one of her videos—using the catchall term to describe her role as a professional soother whose ASMR videos help relax and lull her 563,000 followers to sleep, and as a YouTube personality who alternately offers advice on everything from diet and candle DIYs to her zero-waste routine. Currently she lives in L.A. with her boyfriend and her cat, Ruby, where she likes to rescue kittens, pole dance, and make elaborate fruit plates.

In videos she credits her mother, who used to lightly massage Julia before bed to help her fall asleep, for her formative experiences with ASMR. And though she only made her first ASMR video in 2018 (after officially starting her YouTube channel 11 years ago), she’s already racked up over 116 million views.

Her extremely wholesome followers like to call her videos “premium ASMR,” and even as a recent acolyte, I have to agree. Julia’s brand of ASMR is all about self-care and simulating touch—an especially useful tool now, when many of us are feeling slightly feral and isolated, and craving physical touch. There’s also a pretend dialogue to the many role play videos on her feed, which adds an element of human connection, as if someone’s lovingly engaging in conversation with you.

In them, Julia often appears in a turtleneck with immaculately clean nails. Her face is rarely in frame, which I actually prefer—unlike other ASMR-tists who like to look right into the camera, Jim Halpert style—since the focus is more on her long graceful fingers than her gaze. And her tone is always calm and inviting, whether she’s whispering or murmuring.

Among the many ASMR services she provides, she can give you a massage or facial, brush your hair, make you a drink (or a mocktail, if you like), and say nice things about you for a solid half hour—my personal favorite. There’s also a whole series of her touching other beautiful people, if you’d prefer to live vicariously through someone else. Her fingers extended toward the camera, massaging the air, can make my entire head of hair feel as though it’s standing up on end, which—combined with the dim lighting and her dulcet tones—usually inspires a sense of bliss (as if my whole scalp is radiating warmth), then deep calm and drowsiness.

Other delights of Julia’s videos are the hyperspecific self-care additions, such as the seasonal essential oil blends that she’s mixed up “just for you.” Her wellness tool kit is pretty extensive, though, like an endless reel of things you’d find on a fancy Mother’s Day list. In a role play video, she might extend you a pair of warm pajamas straight out the presser, or offer up a single piece of dark chocolate from the Philippines on its own crystal dish. Healthy bedtime snacks and beverages are staples in her videos, which feel extra decadent when viewed before bed.

Some details are borderline Goop-y, but I would truthfully listen to hours of Julia talking about how her tiny bottle of lilac absolute perfume is refined in a bathtub, or how her pu erh tea is picked, fermented, and pressed in China. All add to the therapeutic effect of these videos, which—as she sometimes notes—are designed to help you feel special, loved, and safe.

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In an interview with the New York Times, Stephen Smith, Ph.D, a psychologist at the University of Winnipeg, explains that this type of ASMR engineers a faux intimacy: “There’s so much online that allows you to not actually interact with other human beings yet still feel close—artificially close—to other people. ASMR does that,” he said. He goes on to note that ASMR shouldn’t be your only source of human closeness, though in a global health crisis, we will take what we can get!!

https://www.self.com/story/asmr-for-pandemic-anxiety

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