Thanks to mobile phone cameras and social media, taking and sharing photos has never been easier. But what’s the point? Does it improve our wellbeing?
After studying what photos people took and posted online every day for two months, researchers Dr Liz Brewster of Lancaster University and Dr Andrew Cox of the University of Sheffield say taking a photo each day and posting it online has complex benefits.
Benefits of taking a photo a day
They found that it improves wellbeing through self-care, community interaction and the potential for reminiscence. It also encourages us to take a moment to be mindful and look for something different or unusual in the day.
- It boosts self-care. The research found that taking a daily photo encouraged more exercise and gave some people a sense of purpose, competence and achievement. “It encourages me to get out of the house sometimes. I think maybe I will take a walk down on to the seafront and before I know it, I’m two miles along the coast,” explained one of the research participants.
- It encourages community. How many friends have you met or reconnected with via social media? Online contact through photo sharing has helped many people manage loneliness and grief while allowing for an opportunity to meet new people with shared interests. For example, several of the study participants had taken early retirement and found that the contact established via photo-a-day helped replace the daily office chatter that they missed.
- It’s a way to save happy memories. Who hasn’t scrolled back through their Instagram feed with a smile? It’s a way to capture and recall what could have been happy but fleeting memories. As one of the study participants explained, “If I am ever feeling down or something, it is nice to be able to scroll back and see good memories.”
- It’s a mindful practice. Mindfulness is often said to be the antidote to our stressful lives, but that doesn’t mean you have to meditate every day. Taking a photo, a day could also be a mindful practice. The study researchers say that taking a daily photo is “an active process of meaning-making, in which a new conceptualisation of wellbeing emerges.”
Don’t fight the urge
So, the next time you see something beautiful, whether it’s a flower or a sunset, don’t fight the urge to take a photo and share it.
Source: All4Women and Lancaster University via www.sciencedaily.com