Photography as a hobby has a multitude of positive benefits, not least of all on your physical and mental health.
I was reminded of this over the past weekend I’ve not been so well, with a stomach ailment.
As I’ve discovered previously, when my digestive system isn’t at full health, it tends to have a significant impact on my mental outlook too.
Reading the Clever Guts book a couple of years back helped confirm what I’d subconsciously suspected – and certainly experienced – for years.
The book explains that our gut is home to “the microbiome, trillions of microbes that influence our mood, weight and immune system”.
So I know that when my digestive system is off kilter, I’m not likely to be seeing the world with my usual relatively positive and optimistic outlook.
I tend to be gloomy, irrational, and the frequency and volume of thoughts and images in my mind overall seems to drastically increase.
Knowing this is temporary is at least of some help.
And fortunately there are other activities that always seem to help too. One of the best of these is walking out in nature, usually in the woods.
This I think goes back to my childhood, as I grew up next to woods and fields and played outside often. Also my grandad was a farmer, as was his son, my uncle, and we spent considerable time around them both as children, in very rural surroundings.
Trees, fields and rivers were a major feature of my early years, and I’ve kept them so into adulthood.
So back to the last few days, despite being in considerable discomfort, I donned my wellies and took myself off to the local woods on two separate occasions.
Of course you don’t need a camera to be able to go for a walk in the woods. But for me it enhances the experiences in two ways.
First, it gives you an excuse to go in the first place. “I’m going to the woods to take some photographs” is more appealing and motivating than just “I’m going to the woods”, to one who loves finding and capturing beautiful things as photographs.
Second, being a photographer opens your eyes in different ways, and you tend to look more closely and more curiously at your surroundings, your photographer’s eyes seeking out those appealing compositions.
Just by holding a camera, you have that presumption that you will use it, and so you’re looking for worthwhile opportunities.
Any kind of walking is of course beneficial for all kinds of reasons, and in the woods the air is generally very clean and fresh, so one’s lungs are given a thorough flush through too.
So my physical wellbeing is improved simply because I’m out walking, exercising and enjoying fresh air.
And my mental wellbeing is improved by repeatedly exposing myself to beautiful surroundings, then capturing a few of them on camera.
As the woods also tend to be quiet, aside from the occasional dog walker, this further helps me, being someone who values time alone.
The photographs in this post that I made in the woods aren’t the most spectacular or original I’ve ever made. But more importantly, they helped improve my health, which is invaluable.
How about you, how does photography help your health and wellbeing?
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