We have discussed before how photography can help you combat depression and anxiety. I’ve even had an experience of my own and felt it on my own skin. Today, we’re talking about mindfulness. How are those two connected, I hear you ask. Well, mindfulness is an integral part of mental health improvement, and practicing it can help you deal with both depression and anxiety.
In this video, Alex Kilbee of The Photographic Eye teaches you how to use photography to practice your mindfulness. And you’ll agree – doing what we love and improving our mental health is a great combination, isn’t it?
1. Make it a habit
First, take a regular time of your day to take photos. Habits are developed gradually, so work towards it and start small. As little as 20 minutes a day is enough, as long as you’re totally devoted to it. And don’t fuss over gear: you can use a camera or a phone, as long as you take photos. The goal is to slow down, start noticing what’s around you and appreciate the visual elements that you see. In my case, this is still something I do when I feel overwhelmed by too many noises or too large crowds, which are my main anxiety triggers.
The purpose of this is to connect with the world around you and find your own meaning in the things that everybody else sees. The goal is not to create art, but to look at things without judgment. And of course, to practice both photography and presence at the moment.
2. Slow down
Now that you’ve practiced long enough to make it a habit – slow down. In other words, you don’t want to take so many photos any longer. Slow down, take one shot at a time, think it through before pressing the shutter. It will help you connect more deeply with the world around you, but with photography as well.
3. Look at your photos
After you’ve taken the photos you’re happy with – look at them. Don’t think about whether others will like them or not, but about why you took them and why you liked the scene that you decided to capture. You can even write down how taking a certain photo made you feel, and what emotions the photo itself evoked after looking at it. This brings you back to your true self and puts you right here, right now, turning off the “noise” of the outside world.
Throughout my depression and anxiety treatment, I have noticed that practicing mindfulness has been of immense help. It’s not as simple as it sounds, but it’s possible. Just take small steps towards it, and I think photography is a great place to start. Now take a few deep breaths, grab that camera or phone, and enjoy your first mindfulness exercise!
[Improve Mindfulness Through Photography | The Photographic Eye]