Photography as a Stress Relieving Tool: 5 Tips to a Calm Mind

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Photography as a Stress Relieving Tool: 5 Tips to a Calm Mind

Go to work, take care of your family, go to the gym, pay the bills, attend social meetings, take care of the house, try to be healthy… the list of things we do every day is never-ending. We didn’t even realize and stress already took over us. Luckily there is something we can do about it. As photography-lovers we have a great stress management tool in our hands: our camera. We can use photography as a stress relieving tool.

Photographing sea landscapes always makes me feel calmer.

Stress is a normal reaction of our body to get adapted to changes. It allows us to react in dangerous situations preparing out body to react: faster heartbeat and breath, muscles get ready to action… our body is ready for everything. Certain levels of stress are OK because our body is able to handle it. In fact stress help us to wake up in the morning, prepare meetings, etc… But when the stress is kept for long time or it is too much, then it can have the negative consequences that we are all familiar with: depression, anxiety, hypertension…

We are all similar: we all suffer stress at certain degree.

We all suffer stress at different intensity levels. There is a big diversity of behaviors in front of the same situation. We don’t need a really stressful situation to enter into anxiety mode. Our mind is able to make something not stressful for the most part of the people in something really stressful for us. This means that we are in great part responsible of our suffering.  This is a good new: if we are the responsible ones, avoiding stress is in our hands. Well, we all know it is not so easy. There are as many ways to handle stress: meditation, breathing techniques, do sports… and also photography!

Differences in the way we react to a situation (as moving to another country) is what makes us to experience it as a negatively stressful period  or just as exciting times.

I use photography as a stress management tool because it helps me to focus my attention outside my mind and distract me from the stress and anxiety I might be feeling. It is a great way to stop negative thoughts. It helps me to relax. As you are reading this article, I understand that you like photography. If you have not use photography to relive stress, I recommend you to give it a try. Here you have some tips I hope will help you:

Don’t care so much about the final product

Remember that you took the camera to relieve stress, not to take the best shoot of your life. Take the photos just to have fun, for yourself. Don’t care so much about composition.  Leave the perfectionism and inner criticisms at home. Don’t hold expectations. It is all about enjoying the process.

This is not my best composition but I still remember how much fun I had taking this photo. I was lying on the floor in that bed of leaves feeling happy.

Turn on the camera and turn off the phone

Phones can be a huge stress factor. They provide us with a lot of little tasks that divide our attention and distract us. If you want to relieve stress, try to turn off the phone (or allow just the entry calls) for the time you are taking photos. Forget about Whats App, email and other applications. If you are using the camera of your phone, try to ignore all the notifications for a while. It will help you to focus your attention in just one thing: taking photos. Give your brain a bit of resting time.

Do a photo-walk

Walk slow, breath deep, pay attention to the details, take photos. The idea is that you become mindful about your surroundings and that you enjoy everything you see.

Paying attention to details helps me to focus my mind and find little hidden treasures.

Practice gratitude

We humans have a tendency to see easily all the bad things. This behavior is pretty negative and doesn’t help to relieve stress. Practicing gratitude can help us to switch our point of view. Try focusing on the good. You can start small: look for the good on the things you see. Take photos of them. Be grateful you can enjoy them. This will give your brain a positive input that will help you to handle negative situations in a better way.

I found this extravagant leave close to my home. It made me feel grateful about nature.

Pick a photographic subject

If you feel so stressed that your brain jumps from one thing to other like a crazy monkey, you will need to help it to calm down. It can be useful to give your brain just one thing to focus: pick a restrictive project. You can make your brain to look after one shape or just one color: circles, squares, blue, red…  Or you can choose a location or a camera setting. Just pick one subject and take photos respecting the limitations. You will see like the crazy monkey starts to calm down after a while taking photos because you will need to use all your creativity skills. No room for anything else.

I did a photo session about circles. I usually don’t restrict myself so much, but it was really useful to help my mind to stop wondering and focus in just one thing.

In conclusion, photography can be a great stress management tool. First of all, it is a way to treat yourself: enjoy some time doing something you love will bring a bit of  balance to all your responsibilities. Taking photos always helps to focus on what you have in front of your eyes NOW. This is especially important because a lot of us (meaning stressed people) are not living in the present moment. We are constantly thinking about the past or worrying about the future. But photography can slow you down and can bring you to a more peaceful mindset that will help you to deal better with all your obligations.

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I am a biologist and a self-taught photographer based in Barcelona (Catalonia). Buddhist philosophy has a strong influence on me: I have a deep appreciation to life and I give a huge value to the little things that makes our days happier. I became a passionate about photography when I got my first camera and I understood that photography allows me to express my way of approaching life. I love learning so I am always willing to trying new things. These days I am shooting mostly nature and portraits.

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