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How Can Photography Help To Boost Mental Health?

Gain greater perspective on life by using your camera outdoors

There is strong evidence and support that art can be therapeutic for people suffering from depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress. This means participating in drawing, painting, photography or sculpture has proven potential to strengthen mental health. I’m super interested in what photography can do in this area.

As photography is also a respected art form, I can appreciate it’s being adapted as a modern tool for healing and coping. In my own experience running photo tours, I’ve already witnessed ample evidence that practising photography readily promotes individual:

  • focus
  • creativity
  • patience
  • reflection
  • mindfulness

All of the above traits are highly recommended stepping stones for overcoming mental health issues, and I personally have felt those very benefits through my own practice over the years.

What I think it all boils down to is simplicity. Whether your subjects are portraits, wildlife, landscapes or cityscapes – the mindful process of taking time out of your routine to just take photos for the sheer hell of it (for no-one but yourself!), can be a welcome antidote to the stressful world we live in. Photography gives you a solid reason to get up, venture outside, and create something from nothing.

Photography as accessible mindfulness

Unlike other art therapies, photography as therapy doesn’t ask you to join an expensive course or fork out a few hundred for materials. Everyone has a smartphone camera on them, making photography accessible anytime, anywhere. You don’t even need to be a seasoned photographic professional or industry legend, you simply need to find your ideal subject matter and set a time to immerse yourself in the process of capturing it.

It’s less about the gear, and more about feeling the location you’re in. Try shooting with your shoes off as a start!

In a sense, photography always cultivates mindfulness. The act of sitting still. Focusing on one thing at a time. Reframing reality. That’s extremely valuable to have at your fingertips! I’m no yogi, but I am invested in the importance of being present as it actively improves my work and my life in general.

Let’s go one step further and combine green therapy (or nature therapy) with the art of photography… could outdoor photography be one of the best things you can do to improve your mental health today? I genuinely think so.

If you’re struggling with your mental health, I suggest you experiment with outdoor photography as it could have the power to help you work through the difficult times, even if in a small way. Nature always has this subtle skill of reminding us what matters, and what will pass.

Photography as an outlet

My life often gets complicated. I run several businesses and do my best to keep a happy family and social life, but there is no doubt that I need to carve out space in between to just… be. As a photographer, I have found that one of the most effective ways to keep myself grounded is having an easy escape route planned when it feels like everything is caving in – and my go-to is photography. Not for work, but for myself.

I know, I know. I work with cameras every single day in a professional sense, you would think I might want to escape themfor a moment!? But I actually enjoy taking photographs as a form of meditation, and that’s actually how I got into practising photography in the first place. I don’t simply take photos to make money (but it is a nice little bonus) – I take photos to immerse myself in the moment and remind myself what matters. To find my own sense of calm and patience and peace.

I am not about to say ‘namaste’, I’m about to urge you to run out get yourself a basic camera and start shooting. Here’s a few reasons why photography could be a helpful remedy to the stresses of everyday life…

10 POSITIVES of Photography Therapy:

    1. Enhanced patience in everyday life
    1. Energised focus – being “in the zone” for a creative task
    1. Opportunity to calm your mental storm
    1. Engaging actively in self-expression
    1. Connection to nature’s scents, sights and sounds
    1. Heightened self-awareness
    1. Manifest the world you want to live in through your photography
    1. Reduced stress (levels of cortisol) to improve your mood and sleep
    1. Photos become a powerful source of reflection
    1. Fresh air, fresh mind.

Photography can heal

I believe one of the best features of photography as both an artistic hobby and healing therapy is its ability to instantly plunge you in the wonders of the great outdoors. No training necessary!

Try to commit to spending a few hours each week with your camera, calmly watching, waiting and snapping. I wager that – without you even noticing – gradually you will reach a sense of inner calm and focus simply by practising photography regularly, purely for yourself.

Remember: you are always in control of your camera, and you may even be surprised by how vividly it reflects what is going on inside your own head. Photography therapy is a simple and free way to visualise what’s going on within, which we all know can be an extremely tricky thing to achieve.

Have you felt the positive effects of photography in your life? Share your experience with us to help. As always if you are feeling like you need to talk to someone please contact one of the following they are there waiting to talk to you

Beyond Blue

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