by Tony Yuile
Back in issue 13 of New Zealand Photographer magazine Tony Yuile discussed his thoughts on how photography can contribute to meeting our emotional needs. With mental health being such a hot topic at the moment, and indeed our own blog posts discussing how photography can play a part in mindfulness and mental health, we thought it was time to share some more of Tony's tips with you, whether you simply enjoy looking at photography or can't imagine yourself without your camera.
1. Ground Yourself: Be Present
The process of grounding yourself is a technique that can help you get out of your anxious state and imaginary 'doom and gloom' future and into the reality of the present moment. Whenever you find your mind is in overdrive with all of the negative potential outcomes of a given situation, grab your camera and notice 5 things in your present environment. Spend some time examining each object in detail, how the light hits it, its size, shape, colour and consider how best to photograph it.
"Not all gold is created equal, but every ounce is just as precious." By Kelly Pettitt
2. Set Aside Time For Relaxation
Set aside a designated, uninterrupted time, ideally each day, for relaxation and stick to it. Many people state they don’t have time to relax, but relaxation does not have to be time-consuming. Relaxation can include periodic 5-10 minute breaks of breathing exercises or grabbing your camera, heading outdoors and snapping away. Relaxation rejuvenates the body, mind, and spirit and leaves us better equipped to handle stressful situations when they come.
"Sunlight penetrates the tree canopy, delicately highlighting leaves and moss near the forest floor, Zealandia eco-sanctuary. This treasure is not far away in the backcountry. Zealandia is easily accessed in central Wellington, New Zealand's capital city..." By Peter Laurenson
3. Breathe To Calm Down
Breathing is the simplest and one of the most effective ways to switch off the stress response. The 7/11 breathing technique involves breathing in to the count of 7 (not 7 seconds), pausing for a moment, breathing out to the count of 11, pausing for a moment again, and repeating. The numbers don't matter so much. The important thing to remember is that the out breath is slower and longer than the in breath.
"A fabulous morning for contemplating the day ahead, after a brisk walk so as not to miss this gorgeous sunrise." By Jodelle Leatham
4. Get Some Exercise
Physical exercise uses up stress hormones. Even half an hour of exercise can be enough to get rid of some of the day’s stress, but that doesn’t mean that you have to take out a gym membership: go for a jog, try some yoga in your living room, or even just take a brisk walk around the block, remembering to take your camera with you of course!
"When you walk in purpose, you collide with destiny. Ralph Buchanan (1922 - 2005)" By Peter Kurdulija
5. Keep A Gratitude Journal
Reflecting on the positive experiences, feelings, and relationships in your life can bring you greater joy. A gratitude journal is a good way to acknowledge the things that brighten your life and help you turn your focus away from negative thoughts and feelings. Keep a journal by your bed so that at the end of each day, you can spend 5-10 minutes writing about something that you were grateful for in your day. Perhaps reflect back on some of the images you captured recently with your camera and recall the pleasant sights, sounds, and experiences - a sunset, the birds chirping, the shades of green in a forest setting, a hug from your child, or a call from a friend.
"The Most Important part of Photography is what it does to your Soul. - Part of the process of being a photographer is about enjoying life's fullness. You'll start to look at the World around you differently. You'll find more appreciation for small things, you'll notice the details and find beauty in the most uncommon places. Our beautiful world has so much to offer us in a way of variety. We should just relax and take it as it comes. Don't rebel against the flow of life. By restricting yourself you throw away the miraculousness of other moments and fail to enjoy life's fullness. Experience the current moment with your shot. Try to look at the World for the first time or as a traveler that enters a new country. Just relax, and enjoy the ceaseless process of life..... "