Italian actress Sophia Loren relaxes on the Libyan set of the desert adventure film ‘Legend of the Lost’, 1957. (Photo by Silver Screen Collection/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

If we could somehow measure the anxiety in the atmosphere during this nail-biting election it would be record-breaking. Millions of Americans (and internationals) emotionally and intellectually exhausted as they wait out the outcome between Trump v Biden, 2020.  As we go to bed tonight, we have little clarity, no result and a whole lot of ego. Trump is prematurely claiming victory, demanding late-count mail ballots are fraudulent and, in turn, causing a cacophony of disenfranchisement. But Biden is also positive, saying he “feels good about where we are”. It’s enough to make even those least politically inclined to sit up and turn on the 24-hour news cycle.

So, switching off your phone and its heart palpitating info-reel might be particularly hard to do tonight. Not to mention then zoning out enough to doze off. Perhaps it’s time to join the ever-growing phenomenon that is ASMR. Never heard of it? It stands for autonomous sensory meridian response. Coined by a cybersecurity expert in 2009 who wanted to describe the feeling she got when she listened to, and viewed, certain mundane actions being performed by others. Things like hair brushing or nail tapping or slow whispering. Things that inexplicably caused a reactive “brain tingle”-type sensation. And she wasn’t alone. She soon found many others felt similar when exposed to these common triggers. Some reported it to feel like a whole-body relaxation, others like a kind of euphoric meditation. As a result, ‘ASMR’ is now the third most searched term on YouTube.

Scientists and psychologists are excited by the potential of this very-modern tech-trance. They believe it could help treat anxiety and addiction disorders, although its research is still in early stages. It’s being likened to yoga and meditation in its ability to cause nervous-system relaxation, a slowing heart rate and a deeper sleep. YouTubers are cashing in on the millions of invested viewers too, with reams of channels now dedicated to themes as expected as body massage and facials to videos as weird as frying chicken and capybaras eating pumpkins.

Unfortunately, researches have concluded that ASMR is not achievable by every individual, however. It’s a kind of “you get it or you don’t” scenario. Some will view the content as soothing and mind-massaging while others will think it’s just, well, weird.

And look, it is all a bit of an odd YouTube void. Watching videos of people do regular stuff (play video games, cook, clean wardrobes) seems to be a sign of our times. But whatever, anything is worth a shot tonight. Namaste online.

Here’s your starter pack:

Massage and hair brushing

Microphone brushing sounds

Scratching and tapping sounds


Scalp massage

Check-up role play