Illustration: Ashley Siebels
A photo a day can keep the blues away.
That’s according to a new study published in Health that found posting a daily photo online could boost your well-being.
Study: Sharing your photos online keeps you engaged
Taking a photo a day and sharing it on social media is more than just a “simplistic, mechanical intervention,” the researchers found when they interviewed the participants they recruited. It boosted participants’ well-being because it forced them to take time out of their busy day to engage with the world around them. The camera became an excuse to look up from a computer screen and get outside and practice mindfulness.
“It [My job] was a very highly stressful role. Oh, God. There were some days when I’d almost not stopped to breathe, you know what I mean,” one participant in the online photo-a-day experiment said. “And just the thought: oh wait a moment, no, I’ll stop and take a photograph of this insect sitting on my computer or something. Just taking a moment is very salutary I think.”
Joy received from ‘sharing this moment with others’
The researchers found that it was not just the act of clicking a shot that inspired the good mood, but the supportive online community that built around your photo too.
“The encouragement to connect on a daily basis, provided by the structure of photo-a-day, was about taking a moment for the self … but also sharing this moment with others,” the study concluded. “Several participants had taken early retirement and found that the contact established via photo-a-day replaced some of the daily office chatter that they missed.”
The online photo community provided a daily structure and community to participants’ days.
“If it was just a photo site putting a picture up and a title I would probably have dropped out within a month or two,” another participant said. “But it was the conversations. That’s when you realized that it was something different and that was possibly at least as important as the photograph that you were taking. It could be a rubbish photograph but if somebody commented on it, it made it worthwhile.”