ASMR has become inescapble in recent years. By now, you’ve probably came across several videos of people whispering into microphones, or slurping to their heart's content in mukbang videos. In fact, according to Spotify Philippines, “53% of Gen Zs and 45% of millennials listen to ASMR at least once a week,” making it one of the top genres in the Philippines.
ICYDK: ASMR—which stands for autonomous sensory meridian response—refers to the tingling or static sensation you get down your spine when stimulated by certain visuals or sounds. And while people have different experiences with ASMR, for many, it’s a way to relax or wind down—a means of self-care to say the least. For voice actor Inka Magnaye, it’s exactly what led her to start creating content using her relaxing voice.
ASMR as a means of self-care
About two years ago, Magnaye, who is diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), anxiety disorder, and depression, was at her lowest point—getting irritated at even the smallest things.
“It's not necessarily that big of a deal, but because you know you're already dealing with the effects of anxiety or depression or other things that we may have, it becomes a little bit magnified,” she said.
Magnaye shared that she started reading poems out loud and turned to ASMR videos to help her get through her anxiety and panic attacks. But back then, there wasn’t really a platform where she could just listen to ASMR audios “on demand.” Instead, she would download audios off of a video sharing app, transfer them to her iPad, and listen to it when she gets panic attacks.
Until one day, the voice actor decided to read poems to her followers on her Facebook page (which at that time had only 3,000 followers) live, and it garnered many “wonderful responses.”
“When I saw that I was like, ‘Wow, people really need this.’ And being able to help them helped me, because that's a form of therapy also—soothing and helping others,” Magnaye, who came from a family of voice actors, recalled.
In September 2020, Magnaye was tapped by Spotify as one of their exclusive podcasters, where she would read poems and books to help those with anxiety and trouble sleeping for her ASMR and meditation podcast, Sleeping Pill with Inka—the first in the Philippines.
Now with about 80 episodes as of writing, Sleeping Pill with Inka has helped build a sizable community in the ASMR world—it’s no longer for a niche market.
“I get countless messages from people saying that Sleeping Pill helped them through darker nights and nights when they can't sleep. And, you know, sleep is such a big part of making sure that your mental health is working properly,” she shared.
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Audio therapy made accessible
Magnaye continued to share that she created her podcast to “pay it forward and do the same” for those with mental health problems. With her podcast on audio streaming apps like Spotify, content like ASMR audios and podcasts have become “more accessible to people like me who have anxiety disorders.”
“That's one of the reasons why I'm happy that ASMR is getting really popular right now and I'm so happy that Spotify gave me this platform to share my podcast because, again, before it was such a niche thing you'd have to go out of your way to look for it. Where would you even begin to look for ASMR if you didn't know about it? Someone would have to send it to you,” Magnaye said.
She continued: “I didn't care how many people listen to it what I cared about is if it helped people. If I was able to help just one person that night survive their anxiety attack, then that episode was already beneficial.”