Guest Blog. World Mental health day
How photography could boost your happiness and help you live longer
Taking up Photography could improve your health and mental wellbeing in retirement and help reduce the risk of premature death. That’s according to our friends over at Southampton-based Financial Advisers 2020 Financial. As Retirement Specialists, their article, to mark World Mental Health day, looks at the damaging effects of social isolation on the elderly and offers 9 health-promoting hobbies designed to boost happiness in retirement, with Photography top of their list. It comes after research revealed that participating in hobbies and staying socially active is equally as important when it comes to quality of life and longevity as diet and exercise.
Simon Garber, Managing Director of 2020 Financial says “We’re passionate about helping people to enjoy a happy retirement. Whilst we can help them with their financial planning, it’s important not to underestimate the impact that lifestyle choices can make to someone’s retirement. We’re hoping that this article will get people thinking and taking part in some more health-boosting hobbies when they retire”
Studies of elderly people and social isolation show that those without adequate social interaction were twice as likely to die prematurely, with the increased mortality risk comparable to that from smoking. Loneliness is in fact about twice as dangerous as obesity¹. So your hobbies in retirement could have far-reaching health benefits beyond simply filling your time and staving off boredom, they could, in fact, save your life.
Photography as Therapy?
Art Therapy has been around for over a hundred years and the research supporting its efficacy is growing. With the increased ownership of smartphones and the reduction in cost of entry level DSLR cameras, Photography is an easily accessible form of art therapy and its benefits are wide ranging.
Photography & Mindfulness
Many links have been made between Photography and Mindfulness with many people using photography as a practical way to apply the principles of mindfulness. In their book Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to Finding Peace in a Frantic World, Mark Williams and Dr Danny Penman describe Mindfulness as ‘observation without criticism’. It is easy to see then how Photography and Mindfulness can go hand in hand: Photography offers an opportunity for the photographer to observe a situation, item or subject through their unique perspective. A picture, they say, tells a thousand words – but beauty is in the eye of the beholder. The photographer merely frames the subject without judgement.
Mindfulness is proven to decrease stress and anxiety, aid recovery from illness, reduce fatigue and improve vigour, plus new research suggests it can offer a creative way for individuals to connect with and contribute to the communities they live within.
This photo was taken using a longer exposure during one of our relaxing photography days photographing waterfalls.
Social benefits of Photography
Research by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services that looked at the social benefits of photography and found that “when community members photograph their daily lives, they may find that the bigger picture begins to emerge”. Through this, they say, a camera can be a gateway to healthy habits, lifestyles and communities.
If you’re wondering where to start, we offer one-to-one workshops for portrait, landscapes or wildlife photography. Contact us here for more details
If you already know your way around your camera or you just need some motivation to pick it back up again, why not try the #100happydays project. The project challenges participants to post one photo a day of something that made them happy. It’s a great way to experience the benefits of therapeutic photography, mindfulness and gratitude all in one. Find out more at https://100happydays.com
About World Mental Health Day
World Mental Health Day is observed on 10 October every year, with the overall objective of raising awareness of mental health issues around the world and mobilizing efforts in support of mental health.
The Day provides an opportunity for all stakeholders working on mental health issues to talk about their work, and what more needs to be done to make mental health care a reality for people worldwide.
If you are suffering from social isolation or are suffering from depression and need someone to talk to, here are some useful contacts:
Sane.org.uk – Provides emotional support, guidance and information to anyone affected by mental illness, including families, friends and carers.
Mind.org.uk – Find information and advice on a huge range of mental health topics. Also offers help with practical suggestions for what you can do and where you can go for support if you are suffering from loneliness.
Samaritans.org – Offer a safe place for you to talk any time you like, in your own way – about whatever’s getting to you.