Do you have a strange affinity for background noises? Do you seek out YouTube videos to play for a continuous hour? Do you just like to relax? You might be into ASMR.
ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response) is what happens when a particular sound triggers a state of low-grade euphoria. Listening to anything from the tapping of fingers against a cell phone screen to the squishing of that rainbow slime that’s been all over the internet can induce a distinct tingling that starts on your head and crawls down your neck and upper back. Visual stimuli like curtains blowing in the breeze can also enhance this feeling.
I know what you're thinking. What does this have to do with any sort of geekery or fandom? You’re about to find out, and possibly get addicted.
It was by complete accident that I fell into the magical, life-changing YouTube channel ASMR Rooms and soon found myself being lulled halfway to sleep by smoking cauldrons and bubbling potions, howling winds and crackling fires, the creaking of stairs and the crackle of ancient pages turning. Each video focuses on a specific, fantastical location and transports you there via both enticing imagery and in-world audio. Disembodied voices echoed in the halls of Hogwarts. Footsteps stole through the Lonely Mountain. The sounds of ravens cawing in the charred waste of Winterfell could have been coming from right outside my window.
While these videos are still effective with eyes closed, I’d suggest keeping them open for a few minutes to really take yourself away to scenes straight out of Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings, and Game of Thrones (for those of you still going through Season 7 withdrawal). You can almost smell the incense shrouding Littlefinger's brothel or the charred wood that remains after the fall of Winterfell. Hide out in Bag End if you'd rather be in Middle-Earth where the whole Iron Throne question isn't an issue. Things tend to levitate on their own in the wizarding world of Harry Potter, and there are always strange silhouettes passing outside the windows.
There are also videos for all you gamers out there. Fans of Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag will appreciate how the crash of a stormy sea won't drown out the creepy tinkling of a music box on Captain Edward’s ship. You can even go to an alt-verse version of Jurassic World where GLaDOS from Portal gives you a rundown of the park (and she doesn’t leave Aperture Labs for nothing).
So forget the boring old candles and lavender oil — because you've just found the geekiest way ever to unwind. You're welcome.