It is becoming clear that both travel and indulging our creative side can have such a positive impact on our mental wellbeing. Here, Ion Paciu, owner of Photoion Photography School, tells us more about that…
The link between cold weather and declining mental health has long been established, and for many, January and February can feel like long, bleak months. The excitement and fizz of Christmas is a distant memory, the weather is showing no signs of improving, and bank balances are suffering up and down the country.
It is of little surprise, then, that learning a new skill or hobby remains one of the most popular New Year’s Resolutions amongst Britons. Many use the quiet, haunting silence after Christmas to take stock, assess their situation, and resolve to grab life with both hands in the new year.
Psychologists and counsellors agree that taking time to refocus and gain perspective can help improve mental health, and indulging our creative side is a fantastically effective way of doing that.
As a professional photographer, it sometimes saddens me that the simple beauty of everyday situations is not immediately apparent to everyone, simply because they are in too much of rush to notice it. The pigeon pecking at crumbs on London Bridge, the smiling barista serving coffee under the neon glaze of artificial lights, the tube rushing past as commuters clamber to get a space… it’s all there; you just need to look for it.
Art therapy is widely accepted as a valuable aid to those suffering psychological unrest. The beauty of photography is that your subjects are all around you, and most of us have access to a camera on our Smartphone. The only thing most of us lack is the time to appreciate it.
When you take a photograph, you are forced to stop for a moment, and take in your environment from a different perspective. Just for a moment, the world stops. These moments of silence in an otherwise noisy world can represent the much-needed bridge to a healthier state of mind.
My passion for the visual arts developed when I was young. I was constantly fascinated by shapes, colours and textures, and took time to either draw or photograph them wherever I could. It is something that I have carried with me my whole adult life, and is a sheer joy to watch the positive impact it has on my students as they first embark upon a photography course.
In the same way that appreciating our immediate environment calms us, sometimes a change is as good as a rest. Mixing things up a little can do wonders for your state of mind at this time of year as well; why not investigate visiting further flung places than your immediate vicinity, and challenge yourself to look at your setting as a child looks at theirs each day: full of hope, intrigue and beauty.
Remember: all you have to do is stop. Just for a moment.
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