I've written before about my struggles with my own mental health and, those who have been following me for a while know I'm a huge advocate for mental health. As well as this I very obviously write about photography.
But I've never written about the link between photography and my mental health, so after over a year of blogging I felt it was time to write about the link. As ever this post is very much from my own personal experience but I hope that it might inspire others who have or are battling mental health.
To Sum Up
So for anyone who has not read any of my other blog posts I battled depression for many years and eventually won that war (because lets face it is a fighting a war with your own mind) back in 2010.
I then spent the following 9 years technically not battling any mental ill health but I did really have battles they were just smaller ones.
Then in 2019 I was diagnosed with anxiety, I have previously written about how I deal with my anxiety attacks. If you are interested in that post or know someone who may find it useful you'll find it here.
I took up photography properly (as in more substantially than just using my mobile phone camera on automatic) back in 2016 after a girls weekend away with my mum. And to be honest with you it has been the best thing I ever did as I finally found what I wanted to do with my life.
Okay I'll admit back then I had no intention of becoming a photographic artist. I just had found something that I enjoyed more than anything else I had ever tried, and I seemed to have a natural eye for what made a good photo.
But as time went on and my skills with the camera grew as I learnt how to use it properly my love for the art grew as well. The decision to become a photographic artist came later and although I am not a success yet, I am enjoying the journey and know in time I shall be.
In simple terms the link between the two is that when I am out with my camera I am happy.
Of course nothing in life is ever quite that simple, but I'll try and describe it as best as I can.
With me being primarily a landscape and nature photographer I spend the majority of my time with my camera outside. This is the first beneficial link in that it has been proven in scientific studies that spending time outside has a positive impact on our mental health. For me getting out in the fresh air and getting the cobwebs as it were blown away is probably one of the biggest benefits. It lifts my mood and leaves me feeling calmer and more able to focus upon returning home, I have more than once gone out with my camera when unable to focus and once I return from my walk felt more focused and productive.
Another big beneficial link between photography and my mental health is that photography is a form of meditation for me. I am so focused on the composition of my photo, making sure the camera is set up correctly and occasionally making sure that I'm not about to get stung or jagged by another plant. Or even fall off a rock that anything that was weighing me down when I first went out ceases to bother me as my thoughts are turned wholly on my task in hand.
This meditation continues when I have returned home and I am editing my photographs. Now I have written before how I do not edit my photographs much as I want the art I took to still be there I purely tweak lighting, highlights and a few other parts. If you are interested the post can be found here. But while I am doing even these simple edits I am completely immersed in the task and again anything that is weighing me down dissipates.
And the final benefit is the fact that taking photographs make me happy as does sharing my work with the world.
Mental Health and You
I hope you have found this post interesting, and that you'll realize the benefit that I have found in photography.
Now I don't expect every person that reads this post to go rushing out to take up photography. It's not for everyone but I would encourage everyone to find a hobby that they love. Maybe cross stitch, drawing, cooking, woodwork, mountain biking or climbing is for you.
Whatever it is, if it helps you forget about your worries and stresses and feel happy even for 10 minutes well in my opinion it's worth doing it. Because that in turn will help your mental health and you health over all. Though of course as ever that is only my opinion, but maybe something worth thinking about.