When we think about things we can do to improve our health, taking photos is unlikely to come to mind. However, photography can have numerous benefits for mental health. It can also help physical health.
Therapeutic value of photography Taking photos is a creative activity. It doesn’t matter if your snaps aren’t prize winners at the local annual Show. It is the process of taking the photo that is therapeutic, not the end product. Looking for subjects to photograph, choosing the angle and deciding what to focus on are all part of that process.
Photography can help lessen feelings of depression. It stimulates the brain, giving it a work out. This helps protect the brain from memory loss which can come with ageing.
There are interesting things to photograph all over the place. Image:Marie Vonow
Feeling more gratitude Feeling gratitude helps your health. Gratitude lowers blood pressure, boosts your immune system, helps you sleep better and improves your ability to cope with stress.
When taking photos you will be looking for things you are interested in. That may be your family and friends, Nature, architecture, street art, old cars or quirky things. As you focus on taking shots of things that bring you pleasure you will feel gratitude for the good things in life. As you seek out further subjects to photograph you will be concentrating on the positive.
The photographer will always be on the look out for something different like this piece of street art. Image:Marie Vonow
Helps get life in perspective When you are concentrating on taking photos you are practicing mindfulness. This takes your mind off issues that may be worrying you and helps get them in perspective. A session of photography can lower your stress level. Some people claim photography can lift the spirits as much as meditation.
There is now a type of therapy called ‘mindful photography’. Each day participants are encouraged to take photos of things (or people) that make them feel joyful. Five photos is considered to be a good number because it is achievable without being overwhelming. The participants then concentrate on the positive emotions they feel when focusing on these things.
Looking for things that make you happy encourages a positive outlook. Image:Marie Vonow
Strengthens bonds with others Photos can help build current friendships as you share snaps of common interest. It helps keep those in your social circle up to date with what you are doing. However, it is important not to overdo it, especially if you are sharing on social media. After a while others can find the endless pics of your ‘wonderful’ life tedious, just as folk of yesteryear got bored by slideshow nights of their friends’ holidays.
As one gets older, looking at photos of the past can help strengthen the bond with family members and long term friends. Photos give you something to focus on as you discuss aspects of the photos and share memories.
Old photos of people, previous homes and pets can strengthen the bonds between people. Image:Marie Vonow
Encourages you to exercise A recent survey found seventy five per cent of the participants in the research group had increased their activity level because of their interest in photography. Taking photos encourages people to leave the house and move around. When engrossed in taking photos you will be thinking about the shots you want rather than how far you have walked. This means you are likely to walk further without being aware of it. You may be motivated to climb to the top of a lookout or mountain to get a shot of the stunning view.
Photography encourages people to walk. Image:Marie Vonow
Photography can help your health without you being conscious of it. You do not need to think about the benefits as they just happen while you are having fun or are relaxing lining up your next shot.