We’ve heard this phrase a lot recently … ‘we need to be led by the science’.
It goes without saying that these are difficult times for us all. We are all feeling overwhelmed and it is inevitable that during these periods of high anxiety, many people will have up’s and down’s. It’s a bit like riding a rollercoaster – a big, scary one that we’ve never been on before!
We have unexpectedly been thrown out of our regular routine and now, more than any other time, it is crucial that we use this period to try and elevate anxiety in any way that we can. Now, let’s let’s get back to the science.
You might think that picking up a camera to reduce anxiety and overwhelm might seem counterintuitive. In this era where we spend so much time looking at screens it might not make a whole heap of sense, but it has been scientifically proven that this is far from the case.
Recent studies have shown that immersing yourself in a creative pursuit is an effective way to lower your stress hormone levels. Partaking in a creative activity will lower feelings of anxiety, improve sleep and elevate your mood.
In a study called “The Connection Between Art, Healing, and Public Health: A Review of Current Literature”, the research investigated whether engagement with creative activities had the potential to contribute toward reducing stress and depression. It’s finding were staggering:
“The idea that creative expression can make a powerful contribution to the healing process has been embraced in many different cultures. Throughout recorded history, people have used pictures, stories, dances, and chants as healing rituals.”
“There is evidence that engagement with artistic activities, either as an observer of the creative efforts of others or as an initiator of one’s own creative efforts, can enhance one’s moods, emotions, and other psychological states.”
These scientific findings show that the arts, including photography, allow you to express yourself, bring focus to positive life experiences, enhance your self-worth, and even reduce stress.
So let’s take a look at how we can put this into action and focus on the ways in which you can re-balance your mind and address any anxiety issues simply by picking up your camera. Who’s in?
Focusing your mind
There is a scientific theory that fully immersing your mind in an activity gives the participant a feeling of energised focus.
This could be any creative activity from painting, cooking, creative writing or photography for example. When your mind is engrossed in a creative activity your brain shuts itself off from other thoughts.
Photography is a wonderful way to focus your mind. From observing your surroundings and subject matter, looking at light, considering composition, thinking of creative angles to considering camera settings – all of these things are immersive and will calm your mind.
Recording the world around you
Photography also allows us to record our lives, the things and people we love and the beauty of nature. It helps us focus on the little things and the beauty that surround us. It is a tool that allows us to interpret the world around us through our eyes.
We can use photography to record life through our own perspective. You can reflect your own values and thoughts. You can choose what to focus on and what you leave out of the frame.
In these unprecedented times (or in fact at any time), by considering our values, thoughts and perceptions we are able to better process the world around us and make sense of the chaos.
In addition what better way to record and preserve our memories to show to future generations than through considered and emotive photography?
Photography is fun and part of this joy is the ability to switch off from the realities of life and play.
A great way to have fun with photography is to try new things. Set yourself a personal project, take a photo a day of your family life, get close and try macro photography and look at the intricate beauty of objects, create a time capsule, recording your daily life for generations to come, get creative with shutter speed and create abstract art. The list is endless.
When you are taking photographs for yourself the most important thing is that you enjoy yourself along the way.
Learning a new skill
We are lucky in this day and age that we all have a camera in our pockets. In fact using this convenient camera is a wonderful way to start out on the journey to create beautiful images. You don’t need to think about camera settings which allows you to focus your mind of the finer details of light, composition and the content of your images.
Alternatively, if you have a ‘proper’ camera and have never had the time to learn how to use it properly then why not now? Learning a new, creative skill further enhances the focus the mind and fully immerses you in the activity.
Many of us have more (unexpected) time on our hands. It’s important to use this time as positively as we can and distract our minds with calm, mindful and therapeutic activities.
So, during these unprecedented world events, what better time to time to use the simple tool of photography, gain a great sense of personal achievement, develop a healthier mental state, reduce anxiety and learn new skills.
Whether photographing in your own home or visiting quiet areas of our beautiful countryside (whilst adhering to government guidelines and social distancing measures), pick up your camera today and start snapping your way into a positive mental mindset.