Take 5 - Photo Therapy to Restore the Mind

15th Jul 2020

By Adventurer and travel writer, Maxine Erasmus.

When was the last time you took a day, an afternoon or even just half an hour off, away from distractions, work or other people, to enjoy some time just for you to top up that mental wellbeing tank?

Often even when we have a spare moment, we fill it with ‘things we need to do’ like checking our social media accounts, chores, or admin. But it can be just as important to have moments where we are away from our screens, work, and the ever-growing to-do list and remember what it’s like to enjoy our own company. To process, have our own thoughts, relax and revive the mind.

For many though, the thought of taking a moment to escape everything life throws at us seems far too indulgent or even irresponsible. “Reading a book won’t get the housework done.”

This is where the mission of getting out and taking 5 photos comes in. Not 95, not 3, but 5. 5 specific photos, chosen by you.


Photography As Therapy

Consider how we use photos; they are a method of preserving memories, documenting life events and capturing emotions. We develop an emotional attachment to them, and they enable us to remember these moments forever.

So, imagine if you took a moment out of a busy week once and a while, to specifically go and take 5 photos. Those photos would then represent a hugely positive step you decided to take to care for your mental wellbeing. Time you gave yourself to stop being ‘busy’ and slow the mind enough to feel rested and restored.

And if you do need a reason, setting yourself a mission, like taking 5 photos, can serve as the perfect excuse if you feel you need one, to escape for a little while.

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A New Perspective  

Setting out with the intention of capturing only 5 photos also forces you to see your surroundings differently. Instead of snapping away mindlessly, now, just as you once paid for film, you must consider those 5 precious shots and make each one count.

The beauty of such a photography mission is that it is just you and your camera, and you decide where you go and what you take a photo of. But even better still, this is wellbeing restoration that comes completely free of charge.

So, get back to the ‘to do’ list later, and plan your chores for tomorrow, because you have a mission, if you choose to accept it?


What To Do:

  • Grab your camera or your smartphone (but only use the camera) - this time is all about disconnecting from the tech and reconnecting with the moment and your surroundings.

  • Pack a picnic lunch filled with your favourite treats.

  • Go somewhere you love. Whether it’s the sea, the forest, your favourite park. It’s completely up to you.

  • When you get there - just start walking. Look around, try to ‘see’ things you wouldn’t normally see because you’d normally be busy rushing from A to B.

  • Take moments to just stop and observe, no matter whether it’s waves, trees or cars, take moments to stop and be mindful of your surroundings, then as you move around with these ‘new eyes’ you can think about those all-important five photos.

  • Get snapping. It’s up to you what you capture, it doesn’t have to be ‘pretty’ or usual, it’s whatever you feel like taking a photo of, and anything that you will enjoy looking back at later. And you most certainly don’t need to be a pro photographer to take them. Don’t over-think it, if you see something you like or a view you love, snap it.

  • Have lunch. Yes, this is part of the mission. Find a bench, patch of sand, or rock to sit on and enjoy a peaceful lunch with a view - without a deadline.

1The New Forest Wildlife | What Will You See During Your Stay | Careys Manor

My Moment:

I took on my own mission near to home in The New Forest on a sunny Saturday afternoon. As a freelance writer in a busy shared-house there’s never ‘official’ time-off as such so we’re busy people, but I made an opportunity to get away for half an hour of ‘me time’ to walk in the sun, listen to the birds and take some lovely sunny photos that will always remind me of that warm summer’s day.

I snapped some flowers, beautiful hanging baskets, a view from the hill near our home,my flip flops (because they are the epitome of summer days), and a view through the trees because at that moment there was a lovely cool breeze and I could hear the crickets and feel the warmth of the sun - just looking at those photos makes me happy!

And there you have it, your mission, if you choose to accept it. A day, an afternoon or just half an hour just for you, with a little photo therapy, a mental wellbeing top-up and 5 thoughtful moments to take away and enjoy forever.

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