How photography can boost your mental health and well-being

Kirsty Prankerd



In what is turning out to be a tough year for most people, the need to look after our mental health and wellbeing has become even greater. Here, Kirsty Prankerd from Write From The Heart explains how photography can be a great outlet for giving yourself a boost.


In difficult times, it's important that you're able to find ways to practice mindfulness and self-care. One way that many people find a sense of fulfilment is through photography, which studies have found can be a great boost to wellbeing. And, whether it's taking a daily selfie, capturing the plants in your garden, or getting out there and documenting the world in action, all levels of the hobby can provide a fantastic creative outlet and room to explore from a personal viewpoint.


If this sounds like something you'd find enjoyable, I'd like to help you get started! Below, I'm going to take a closer look at the benefits of photography, as well as share some ideas about how you can practice every day and celebrate your favourite images.



Mental health and wellbeing benefits



Mindfulness


Taking photographs helps you to live in the present and relax, while keeping you focused on enjoying the moment more. You're giving yourself a little break from reality to explore something you find captivating. It also helps you to find new appreciation for the beauty of the subject you're capturing, whether that's yourself, someone else, or the world around you.


Social interaction


Research has found that sharing photos online (study) or in person (study) can improve wellbeing by fostering heightened social engagement. One of the main reasons cited for this was the feeling of community and belonging created when the images were shared with others and discussed.


Brain stimulation


It's recommended that we always try to keep our brains stimulated for better mental health, and photography is a hobby that will definitely keep your mind active. You will need to think critically about your subject and how to compose your shot, which will give your brain a workout. In older adults, taking pictures has even been found to boost memory.



How to start practicing photography every day


Now that we've looked at some of the benefits that photography can offer to your mental health and wellbeing, you might be thinking about picking up a camera and trying it out. Here are a few tips for how you can easily begin taking some meaningful pictures on a regular basis.


· Be willing to stop and enjoy the moment: We all need a breather from time to time, so get into the habit of stopping and taking a photo if you see something that captures your attention. You'll get a lovely photo as well as taking a moment for yourself: win-win!


· Take a mindful photo walk: Make a point of taking a regular mindful photo walk, where you take your time and give yourself mental space to enjoy taking each picture. This can also help to keep you active, which is important for mental wellbeing.


· Enjoy a detour to capture something new: Got somewhere to be? Why not leave earlier and explore somewhere you haven't been before en route or nearby? You can tap into that child-like sense of wonder and exploration as you document your adventure.


· Start a project: You can add structure to your new hobby by turning it into a project, such as taking a photo a day or trying to capture the same subject differently every time. This can be a good way to challenge yourself and make the hobby even more stimulating.



How to celebrate your favourite images


The mental benefits from photography don't have to end when you've taken the photo — there are lots of ways of getting enjoyment out of your work after the shutter has clicked. Here are a few ideas to celebrate your favourite images:

  • Post your photos online: I've already mentioned the sense of wellbeing that can spring from sharing your work. So, why not post your favourites online for friends, or even in a group or community of like-minded individuals you've joined?

  • Create a themed slideshow for loved ones: Share your beautiful images with your loved ones by getting them together for a slide show. You can then discuss the thoughts, feelings, and stories that inspired each shot.

  • Use them to inspire further art: You may wish to tap into the inspiration for a chosen photo further by reinterpreting it through other artforms, such as drawing, painting, or crafting.

· Turn them into a keepsake you can display: When you feel a sense of pride or love around a photo, it may be worth working it into your décor so you can enjoy it every day. This could be as a framed photo, collage, or even printing them onto an item like a cushion or a mug.


Hopefully, this article has introduced photography as a mindful hobby that can have great benefits for your mental health and wellbeing. It really is something that everyone can enjoy, so I hope you think about getting out there with your camera!

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