Therapeutic photography and mental health: What are the benefits of photography and can it help with stress, anxiety and depression?
Let’s face it:
These days, more and more people are suffering from mental illnesses due to stress, anxiety and many other contributing factors. While this has become a normal scenario in most countries, it is still alarming to see it in a rapidly increasing rate.
Most mental health professionals want us to know that it is important to take care of our mind as much as we do to our bodies. And one proven way is to go through therapy, whichever kind that would best work for you.
In line with this, therapeutic photography has become quite popular. However, many of you might be wondering whether it really is good for mental health.
Well, let’s find out in this post.
What is Therapeutic Photography?
First things first:
What do they mean by therapeutic photography?
As described by its users, it is an activity that mainly deals with taking photographs of any subject that sparks your interest. These photos will then be analyzed by the user and relates it to healing, self preservation and as a means of getting motivational energy.
This kind of therapy isn’t like that of a formal session where you have a medical professional to guide you throughout the entire program.
In this case, you mostly do the sessions by yourself, or with other people who are interested in the same thing. You have no teacher to follow, no set of strict rules to follow. This is all about the freedom of expressing yourself and your thoughts through pictures.
What sets it apart from “normal” photography is that this one is oriented towards finding positivity and changing the individual into a better version of himself. The subject could be an array of diverse prospects like plants, nature, family, street, actually anything that will take your mind off all the stress-causing thoughts.
And by the way, you don’t have to be a DSLR owner, you can definitely enjoy a smartphone/iPhone photography as well.
What Are the Benefits of Photography?
Is there really a therapeutic power of photography? Is taking photos really a stress reliever? Here are some benefits believed to be associated with photography and mental health:
Doing something you love will strengthen your motivation. Just thinking about doing something you are very interested in will keep you excited, which is good for your overall wellness.
In this world filled with many adversaries, you sometimes lose motivation and end up getting depressed. Worst of all, you might even question your existence because of everything that is happening around you. That is why, it is always important to find something to do that can boost your self confidence and motivation.
If it is taking photos for you, then by all means go out and snap those shots all you want. This is the best way you can go back to feeling alive again.
Self awareness is very important. Unfortunately, not many of us know this. We often don’t really take the time to pause and understand our own thoughts, behaviors and body language. Most often than not, we are all caught up with our busy yet mundane day to day existence.
Without self awareness, you will easily get confused and swayed by other people’s opinions about you. And sadly, these unsolicited opinions are mostly negative ones. It makes you doubt yourself, and sometimes even question your worth as a person. In turn, your emotional stability gets affected too.
Knowing your self fully leads to discovering you inner passion; your drive to do the things you love. Photography somehow helps in creating self awareness because you need to focus on what really interests you the most.
It helps you learn what your personality is through your likes and dislikes. If you pay more attention to the little things that you are doing, you will later realize how much impact it does to your personality and habit developments.
You might not realize it yet, but people tend to focus on things dealt in front of them.
Most of the time, we focus on what is here in the present, and there is nothing wrong with that. However, we also need to see the bigger picture from time to time so that we can achieve a better understanding of what is currently happening in our lives.
Taking photos give you the chance to widen your perspective. When composing a shot, you will need to think outside the box to make even the most simple subject look as good as it can be. You can try seeing how your subject looks from different angles and choose the best among them.
That’s just how this craft goes. You go beyond the normal point of view to discover better and greater things that will make your work look exceedingly good.
Honestly, this doesn’t only apply to the craft. You can also apply this in your life. When you are faced with struggles and difficulties, try looking at the issue from a different perspective. Who knows? You might find something useful out of the situation and solve the problem with ease.
And what does this have to do with mental health, you ask?
Well, knowing how to look at things from a different perspective will give you some sense of security. You will feel confident that you can manage to overturn the situation if you just try and look at it from a different angle.
Instead on focusing all your energy on a bad situation, you can use this to think beyond the problem and orient yourself towards the brighter side of things. Sometimes, seeing the bigger picture means realizing that there is still something good you can get from a bad experience.
- Promotes social interaction
One of the best advantages of engaging in this type of activity is that you get the chance to socialize with other people. Most often than not, you will be exposed to people from different walks of life while you take pictures outside your home.
This is true especially if your subject deals with people. Most times, you need to ask for their permission if you want them to pose for a photo. This will naturally start social interaction between you and your subject.
Also, it’s certainly likely to find people along the way who are also doing this kind of therapy. This actually gives you the chance to make new friends and start new relationships. This part is really important in improving one’s mental health, honestly.
Meeting new people gives you a breath of fresh air.
You learn new things from them that might actually help you out in the future. This somehow helps break your normal routine from time to time, which can be very good for your mental well being. Just imagine being stuck with people who bring you down.
Knowing someone new with the same interest could be your quick escape from that toxic environment. At least this time, you have someone else you can talk to, or someone that can relate to you when it comes to your craft.
- Helps you focus on the good
Do you ever stop and wonder why you have that urge to take a certain photo?
You find that subject admirable. And by this I don’t only mean people; it could also be places, landmarks, things, or basically anything that sparks your interest. This only means you see something beautiful in those subjects, without even realizing it. As a result, you are actually focusing on the good side of your subject.
This is very important if you want to have a really healthy mindset. Allowing yourself to focus on the positive things will help you realize that there is so much more to life than troubles. It will help your mind steer clear of anxiety, which normally causes stress and depression.
When you practice focusing on the brighter side of things, your brain picks up this pattern and take its shape. In turn, you will have a happier and more vibrant disposition. Later on, you will see how much change this does to your life.
- Helps you look forward to a better future
This is somewhat connected to the previous advantage I mentioned.
Somehow taking pictures really helps you look forward to a better future. You may not realize it at the moment, but when you take photos (like that of a current run-for-a-cause event), a part of you might want to actually believe that things will get better than they currently are.
When you have this kind of mindset, any trouble thrown your way will be easier to handle. Since you are looking forward to a better tomorrow, your mind will think that all the struggles are part of the bigger picture and that everything is going to be okay in the future. This is one way of coping up with whatever issues you currently have.
I know it is always easier said than done, but once you master this habit, you will be able to strengthen your mind and become more resilient than ever.
Creativity is limitless, but we don’t often know how to use this to the fullest. We need to practice thinking outside the box and this craft gives you the chance to do it.
For your photos to be as stunning as it should, you need to unleash your artistic side and compose the shot right. You will need to think of ways on how you can turn an ordinary object into something that speaks for itself.
After all, photography is all about sending message across without using words, right?
In order to effectively create good photos, you need to be creative in letting the viewers get your message loud and clear just by looking at your work. And when you accomplish this, it’s a really great achievement you can be proud of. Mind you, it is not so easy to convey a message without saying anything. So this in itself is already a feat worthy of praise.
- Gives you a sense of freedom
Though there are rules to follow in photography, you are not really bound to follow them religiously. Sometimes, the most awesome shots come from those who didn’t pay attention to the formalities of the craft.
This, in a way, will give you a deep sense of freedom. Knowing that you are not bound to obey strict rules in taking images will give you more room to harness your prowess.
But does this really help your mental health?
Believe it or not, it does have a great impact on your overall well being. There is nothing more calming to the mind than knowing that you have freedom to do what you want. Peace of mind is something you can’t buy in stores, but it is definitely something you should have if you want to live a better and happier life.
- Gives you the chance to change other people’s perspective
This is one of the most powerful things about the craft. You have the chance to change how people perceive certain things and situation. This is your chance to reframe the world.
If there are things that you want others to think differently about, then you can try convincing them by using your images. You can convey your message to the world without even using words.
If you want to get to get creative, sign up to my newsletter below to get a Creative Photography Cookbook at a special 80% discount.
Therapeutic Photography and Mental Health
Now that we have laid down the advantages of photography, it is safe to say that it is one of the best therapies you can ever engage in.
Since there is no formal instructor to lead you on, this kind of therapeutic activity is less restrictive. You get to explore yourself and reconnect with your inner self, and that’s honestly a very great way to gain self confidence.
(Doesn’t mean you can’t invest in online photography courses to learn more though.)
And when you trust in yourself, you are also strengthening your mental fortitude.
Now, I’d like to hear from YOU:
- What are your thoughts on photography as a therapy?
- Do you agree on the benefits of photography for mental health?
Let us know in the comments below!