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An image of Hayley - Valleys Steps Wellbeing Practitioner

How Mindful Photography helps my Wellbeing

I’ve previously been interested in photography, but this hobby really took off for me during lockdown, particularly nature photography. 

It was a way to get out of the house, so I didn’t feel so cooped up, and it helped me feel productive. After noticing how much this hobby contributes to my wellbeing, I realised this is because it helps me meet the 5 Ways to Wellbeing (Connect, Be Active, Take Notice, Keep Learning, and Give):

Connect – photography helps me feel more connected to the nature around me and it led to me feeling enthusiastic about my local area. It helps me connect with others who have the same interest. We share our photos on a Facebook group, supporting and encouraging each other, and sharing our passion for the local nature. I’ve met so many new, amazing people through this hobby.

Be Active – I’m sometimes out for hours taking photos. I spend that time walking around, stretching, crouching and squatting to get the desired photo angles. I didn’t expect photography to be something that gets my body moving, but by the time I come home, I have that satisfied feeling of having done something active and I’m ready for some food and a rest.

Take Notice – Photography has opened up a whole new opportunity for me to be mindful. It involves paying full attention to my surroundings in the present moment; the colours, the way the light hits the scenery, the position of trees, objects, people and animals. All this helps me tune into the feeling of that moment as well.

Nature photography invites me to pay attention to those tiny details of plants and animals I would normally overlook. Hours can go by in a blink of an eye as I find myself absorbed in the detail and beauty around me. At first I thought I simply had a goal to take good photos, but I realised that it’s the process I love, the opportunity to be so fully in the moment.

Keep Learning – Developing this hobby involves ongoing learning, not just about different aspects of photography but also about the wildlife, such as different birds and how to spot them. I enjoy this learning and feel a sense of achievement for the little things I learn. When I look back I realise I’ve learnt loads since starting out just a few months ago.

Give – I mentioned above that I post the photos in a Facebook group. I feel this contributes to a larger cause of getting people interested in the area and making an effort to protect it. I also enjoy encouraging and supporting others as we share and comment on photos together. 

It’s surprising how such a simple activity has had such a positive impact on my wellbeing and I really feel this hobby helped me through the difficult lockdowns of January to March 2021 in particular.

Could mindful photography help your wellbeing? Next time you’re taking a walk in nature, maybe you could use your phone camera to give it a go – who knows where it could take you? 

It may also be helpful to reflect on your current hobbies and how they can help you get your 5 Ways to Wellbeing.

By Heyley Williams

Wellbeing Course Practitioner