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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!