A digital age of stress relief

SHILOH PAYNE

Australians are going online in search of relief from our most common mental health condition – anxiety.

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Dmitri Smith uses brushes to create satisfying sounds in his ASMR YouTube videos. Photo: Supplied.

BeyondBlue reports more than two million Australians suffer from anxiety, but some are finding comfort through a relatively new practice sweeping YouTube called ASMR.

These highly popular videos typically feature gentle tapping, whispering, crunching and other satisfying noises. Viewers of Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR) often describe a tingling feeling when watching such videos.

The term was coined in 2010 and the trend has grown rapidly, with some practitioners amassing hundreds of thousands of subscribers through YouTube.

Gold Coast man Dmitri Smith is one of these with an audience of more than 700,000

Mr Smith now earns enough from his videos that ASMR has replaced his job as a traditional masseuse.

Mr Smith says he hopes his channel MassageASMR acts as a tool for those suffering from mental health issues.

“I love helping people, I think the tools to deal with depression are not taught,” Mr Smith said.

“I think that it works the way meditation does and it is helping so many people.”

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For university student Grace Wallace, it’s an easily accessible form of therapy.

For me, it’s really helpful with my anxiety and calming down from attacks. I find it really relaxing to help with my stress from Uni,” Ms Wallace said.

“I don’t think it’s a long-term cure for mental health issues but the fact that it’s a click of a button away is what appeals to me.”

Little study has been done on the effects of ASMR to date.

Psychologist and stress researcher Jacob Keech suspects ASMR works similarly to traditional meditation.

“Different things work for different people, but I would always recommend a specialist for mental illnesses,” Mr Keech said.

If you are suffering from a mental illness, BeyondBlue offer a 24 hour call service on 1300 22 4636.

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