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How Photography Has Helped Me In My Recovery

Post written by Kailey MarcAurele

Me with my “Mega Zoom”

Photography has been something that I have been interested in since I was a kid. I loved that photography was a way to capture moments. It is also a great way to express yourself. I have never been great at things like drawing or painting, so photography has been a great medium for me to express myself.

I think when you’re in recovery, it’s so important to have an outlet. Sitting alone with your thoughts is tough. I’ve found that having a hobby of some sort is a great way to get your mind off of whatever is bothering you. For me, photography is something that I look forward to and very much enjoy.

No matter what you’re interested in, doing a hobby you enjoy can provide a great chance to step back from the stressors of life to engage your mind and body in different ways. Hobbies can bring so much joy and fulfillment to your life.

Having a hobby you regularly do can make you less likely to suffer from stress, low moods, and depression. A study from BMC Public Health found that people who engaged in creative hobbies for more than 100 hours a year had notably better mental health than those who did not.

Thankfully, I have a lot of hobbies to help keep myself mentally well! Photography is just one of my MANY hobbies I like to do to take a step back from the stress of everyday life.

People are always trying to tell me “you should be trying to sell your photography!” but honestly, not every hobby you have has to be about making money. If there’s a hobby you enjoy, it can stay just that – a hobby.

Not everything has to be a business or a side hustle to make money. Honestly I think if it was a business, I would probably begin to hate it. The only photography I do for money is food photography and let me tell you…I hate doing it. The only food photography I do enjoy is desserts.

Zucchini Spice Cupcake – Example of my food photography that I do for my mom’s blog lowcarbyum.com

When I was really struggling at the beginning of the pandemic, my camera was my best friend. I was going out almost everyday and just photographing whatever I could. If I didn’t have time to drive anywhere, I would walk around the yard with my camera photographing birds or flowers. But I spent a lot of time traveling all around Connecticut to parks and trails I had never been to before just to photograph the landscapes.

In 2020, I got really into photographing waterfalls and I tried to hit as many in Connecticut as I could. I also got really into bird photography. In 2021, I had a seal phase.Photographing these things genuinely brought me joy. It was something to look forward to.

A photo from my 2021 seal photography phase – Seal I photographed while on Block Island

While the hobby itself brought me a lot of joy, my photography also lead me to be a part of communities that enjoyed wildlife and nature as much as I do. Sharing my photos with people who loved my wildlife pictures as much as I did was fulfilling in itself. Some people aren’t able to get out and see these things so it really was a great feeling getting to share my photos with people and see others photos they were taking as well.

Great-Horned Owl!

As I mentioned earlier, photography is also a great way to express myself. During college, I took a Digital Photography class and one of the assignments was to do self-portraits. I very much used this assignment as a form of self-expression. My self-portraits really reflected my depression I was experiencing at the time.

I could have done anything I wanted with the portraits, but without even meaning to or having a plan to, it was just a colorless set where I just didn’t look happy. Sure, I wasn’t crying, but depression can be much more subtle than just hysterically sobbing. The portraits really show how I felt and how I viewed myself. That’s how it is with art. Your feelings just come out in your work.

Photography is just one of my many hobbies that has helped me stay sane. If you don’t have a hobby, I would really recommend you try starting one. You do not have to be the best at it, it just has to be something that brings you joy. Having a hobby can really benefit your mental health in so many ways. Whether it’s something you’re doing just to escape the stress of everyday life, or a creative outlet to get some emotions out, I highly recommend giving either a try. Your mental health will thank you!

How To Make Your Own Positivity Jar!

I made my first positivity jar when I was in an IOP (intensive outpatient program) for my anxiety and depression.

I wrote all of my favorite quotes at the time on my pieces of paper and now whenever I’m feeling down, I will open my jar and read one of the quotes that meant something to me.

Make your own jar to give yourself some positivity when you need it!

How To Make

Making a positivity jar is pretty simple and totally worth it! You don’t need much in terms of materials either. You probably already have everything you need on-hand!

Step 1: Get a Jar

This can be any old jar. Mine is in a mason jar, but you can use any old jar or container you have lying around! You can decorate the jar with stickers, vinyl, or glass markers. We used glass markers for ours in IOP, but if I were to decorate the one I just made, I would use vinyl because I have a Cricut!

my jar from IOP

Step 2: Prep Some Paper

You can use regular printer paper, or you can get some fun colored paper! Cut the paper into small enough pieces to fit nicely in your jar, but big enough to write on.

Step 3: Write Quotes

Lastly, you will write your favorite quotes, sayings, and encouraging words on the pieces of paper! This part can be time consuming, but it’s also a lot of fun! I spent so much time sifting through inspirational quotes to put into my first jar.

If you’re looking for some quote ideas, here are some that I included in mine:

  • Fall in love with being alive
  • Instead of thinking about saving your whole life, think about adding additional good things. Just let your pile of good things grow.
  • Darling for you to be this sad, you must’ve once felt so happy, and you will find that feeling again, and it will be beautiful.
  • Be grateful for the opportunity to experience each day.
  • I have not failed. I’ve found 10,000 ways that won’t work.She was unstoppable, not because she did not have failures or doubts, but because she continued on despite them.
  • Water your roots, so your soul can blossom.
  • Be a better you for you.
  • The darkest nights produce the brightest stars.
  • Stay close to anything that makes you glad you’re alive.
  • A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.

Video Walk-Through


How to make your own positivity jar! ##mentalhealth ##mentalhealthmatters ##positivityjar ##mentalhealthcrafts ##fypシ

♬ Creative(1018683) – TimTaj

Journaling for Mental Health

Post written by Kailey MarcAurele

journaling for mental health

Journaling can be an integral part of your recovery journey – I know at one point, it had been for me.

I used to always keep a notebook on me because writing out all the feels I had inside was much better than holding them in. If I was feeling stressed out because I had something on my mind in school or at work, I would write in my notebook.

I would write every thought that came to mind and I would just write until I couldn’t write anymore. It was very much word vomit and there would be times I would literally just be talking trash about myself to myself in my journal, but believe it or not, it helped. Getting all those feelings out is very therapeutic. There were times writing in my journal was the only way I would not completely lose my mind. It’s a great outlet if you truly feel like you have no one you can talk to about the dark things that are really going on in your brain.

Later in my recovery journey, I became afraid to write. It was really just a matter of I didn’t want to deal with my issues and I didn’t even want to know what the hell was happening in my brain, so I just chose to shove everything down and not write even though writing was something that REALLY helped me in the past.

When just sitting down and writing was too much for me, I bought myself a journal with daily prompts. It was a journal with prompts for self-discovery, but they have all kinds of these types of journals ranging from mental health prompts to self-care journals. Regardless, these journals are a great way to get you started on writing if you’d like to start journaling, but you’re not sure how or where to start. For me, it became a part of my daily routine and I would look forward to what the next prompt would be.

Benefits of Journaling for Mental Health

I’ve talked about what journaling for mental health has done for me in my recovery, but let me talk about how journaling can help you!

Helps You to Relax

As I had briefly talked about, writing out your stressors is a way to release them from your mind. While it might not completely remove it from your mind, getting it out is much healthier than letting those negative thoughts and emotions continue to circulate in your mind for hours and hours.

Boosts Your Mood

Journaling is a positive outlet to get out negative emotions. Putting all of your thoughts on paper or typing them out on a computer can relieve stress and help you feel much better. Getting in the habit of journaling is an excellent way to reduce depression.

Helps You Stay in Tune With Your Emotions

Journaling is a great way to stay in tune with your emotions. When I’ve felt anxious or stressed, but I wasn’t sure what triggered it, I’ve always found journaling to be extremely helpful. When you write those emotions out on paper along with what might have happened that day, it’s easier to take a step back and have that AH-HA moment of what the cause was, which can be reassuring. It also is a great way to help you reflect and see what kind of things cause you to feel certain emotions.

Can Help You Solve Problems More Effectively

As I mentioned above, getting everything out on paper allows you to be able to step back and reflect. Writing through your issues is a great way to try and solve issues. There have been times that I’ve sat down to write with no intention of trying to solve the issue at hand and I’ve found myself writing out possible solutions to whatever issues I’m dealing with. Most of our anxiety and stress comes from unresolved issues going on in our life. Venting in a journal can help lead you to the solution you need.

Helps You Achieve Your Goals

Journaling can help you achieve long-term and short-term goals. Writing down your goals is an effective way to keep your focus and help you be much more productive. Achieving your goals is a great way to boost your mood and help you feel much better about your life.

Journals for Mental Health

If you’re looking to get started on journaling for your mental health, below are some great journals to help get you started!

Journal Prompts for Mental Health

If you’re looking to get started in any old notebook, below are some journal prompts to get you started!

  1. Make a list of all your emotions right now – what comes to mind first?
  2. Think of the worst emotion or feeling you have right now and write about it.
  3. Think about the best emotion or feeling you have right now and write about it.
  4. List 10 things that made you smile today.
  5. List 3 things that made you feel anxious today.
  6. List 5 things you are currently stressed about.
  7. List 5 things causing you stress, but that YOU have the ability to change.
  8. What situations make you the most fearful?
  9. Is your anxiety worse in public or at home?
  10. How is the way you deal with stress different now than when you were younger?

For more prompt ideas, check out: 50 Therapeutic Journal Prompts for Mental Health and Healing


Journaling can be extremely beneficial for your mental health. Getting in the habit of journaling everyday can help keep your mind healthy. They don’t have to be long, drawn out prompts, even a couple minutes of journaling a day can be helpful!

If you need help now, but you’re not sure where to start, check out our resources page.

How Music Has Helped Me In My Recovery

Post written by Kailey MarcAurele

Music has healing power. It has the ability to take people out of themselves for a few hours.

Elton John

Music has always been a huge part of my life. From listening to music, to playing instruments, music has always been there for me.

I am the kind of person who ALWAYS has headphones on me. When I was in school, there were times when having music playing throughout the day was the only way I made it through the day. It’s crazy how music can make you feel so many things.

Music can make you feel happy, but it can also make you feel sad. Music can bring people together. Lyrics can literally validate your feelings.

There are so many songs where I listen to the lyrics and I’m just like holy shit, that is me, that is my life. The music these artists create come from their own struggles and music is a way for them to express themselves.

You don’t have to create music to feel the effects. Scream singing these songs can be cathartic. Listening to them can also put you at ease, even if they’re not the most uplifting songs because they make you feel understood. And because not everything is about being emo, some of these songs can make you happy and make you want to dance!

Music can be extremely beneficial for your mental health. Music can:

  • Elevate your mood and motivation
  • Reduce stress
  • Improve focus
  • Help you relax
  • Reduce anxiety and depression
  • Boost confidence

Additionally, music can be a good way to express negative emotions in a healthy way. Music is an incredible vehicle to help us process negative emotion. Listening to “angry” music can be therapeutic when we’re dealing with stress and anger.

There have been so many times where I’ve been angry or upset and I’ve went and listened to “angry” music and it’s actually made me feel better. And when I say angry music, I do in fact mean the kind where they’re screaming. While some people might not find the screaming music comforting at all, I find comfort in it.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been pissed off and I’ve just gotten in my car, put on something like Sticks & Bricks by A Day To Remember and just drove to blow off steam. Being alone in my car driving with my music has always been my happy place. What’s better than being in complete control and away from everyone? Maybe that’s just the introvert in me.

A couple of months ago, I was in a very, very deep depression. Like I was in a very dark place, barely functioning, not really taking care of myself at all. I was pretty much sitting on the couch staring at the wall all day too depressed to move or do anything.

You know how I was coping then? MUSIC! I had my Machine Gun Kelly playlist on repeat because I was just being super emo. If you’ve ever listened to MGK, you’ll know what I mean. Even though the music was super depressing, it was still helpful because I was really able to connect with it and feel a little less alone.

While listening to music has been super beneficial for me, playing instruments has also been such a huge coping skill for me. I have been playing piano and the guitar since probably middle school and more recently, I’ve learned to play the ukulele (really hoping to learn to play the banjo next).

Whenever I was dealing with really intense emotions, playing piano was always my go-to. I remember my dad once telling someone that he always knew when I had a tough day because I would immediately go to the piano and start playing, sometimes for hours.

There’s just something so calming about playing the piano to me. The fact that I am able to make beautiful sounding music with my hands is really just so amazing to me. Like it really never fails to amaze me. And it’s just so incredible because my fingers always just seem to know where to go, it’s like I’m one with the piano when I’m playing. There’s seriously no better feeling than my fingers gliding across the keys creating beautiful music.


Music really helps me ease my anxiety. It’s a nice escape from reality for me. How does music help you? ##mentalhealth ##music ##anxiety ##peersupport

♬ original sound – turningpointct

While I do love the piano, playing guitar and singing is another way I like to decompress. Guitar doesn’t come as natural to me as the piano does, but it was something I’ve always been into because my grandfather used to play guitar in a band. He taught me to play when I was just a kid.

I think singing is really beneficial for me because it’s a way for me to physically release emotions. While playing the instruments also does that, it’s just an added thing because the words are coming from my own body. Even if my singing isn’t that great, the feeling of singing is intense and cathartic. Honestly, sometimes I’m like close to tears when I sing because I feel the emotions that strongly. PS, crying isn’t a bad thing, it’s a healthy way to release those negative emotions you try so desperately to keep in.


music has the ability to change my entire mood. what does music do for you? ##copingskills ##music ##mentalhealth ##mentalhealthmatters ##fypシ

♬ original sound – turningpointct

Music is really quite an amazing thing and it has been there for me through the ups and downs that is life.

How has music helped you?