My job can be quite stressful at times; that is particularly true at the moment. But I find landscape photography invaluable for coping with stress. Here’s why.
It gets me out of the house
At weekends landscape photography is my primary reason for leaving the house.
There have been many studies into the effect that spending time in nature has on stress. I speak from personal experience when I say that spending time outdoors really helps to put everything in perspective.
Somehow the things that are getting on top of me seem to be less important.
Spending time in the countryside, particularly somewhere as beautiful as the Lake District, helps me to realise that there is more to life than endless meetings, corporate politics and impending deadlines.
It gets me active
Let’s face it. Unless you park right next to where you are going to shoot (as I can at Glencoyne on Ullswater) chances are you are going to have to walk to your location.
And sometimes, if you are looking for that killer view to make the most of the sunrise, you are going to walk a long way, often up hill.
Again there have been many studies linking physical activities to mental well being. The internet is awash with articles claiming that exercise relieves stress but my limited research failed to identify a single one that explained how.
Again I draw from personal experience. If I
endure enjoy some form of physical activity, for example climbing a fell, I get a pretty hefty hit of endorphins.
Physiologically endorphins have a similar effect to morphine acting as an analgesic (relieving pain) and a sedative (calming you down).
The effect of both of these is to make you feel better, negating to some extend the impact of extended periods of stress.
You see Mum and Dad, that biology degree that you paid for wasn’t entirely wasted!
It gives me something else to think about
I am a thinker. It is what I do.
At work I am responsible for setting strategy and solving problems and in order to do that I spend a lot of time thinking.
My ability to think clearly, to separate what is important from what is not and to make quick decisions is probably the main reason why I have enjoyed such as successful career.
It does have it downsides though. It isn’t really something that you can turn off. The other ‘thinkers’ reading this will know exactly what I mean.
I am always thinking, always running potential solutions through my mind, always playing back different scenarios to see how they might have turned out.
I am not very good on holiday; I usually need a ‘project’ to distract me.
If I simply head out for a walk when I am stressed I find that my mind wanders, often reliving the key moments of the past week.
Photography gives me something to think about. When I am out taking photos and/or vlogging I am completely absorbed in what I am doing. And I never, ever think about work.
This form of escapism is why I am so protective of my time with the camera.
It’s an excuse to spend time with my mates
I am lucky that I have a few close mates that I have grown up with that have my back and vice versa.
But increasingly, partly because my oldest pals are back home in the south of England where I am originally from and partly because I have embraced the connections that I have made since starting my YouTube channel, my friends come from within the photography community.
James Burns, Julian Baird, Gareth Danks, Andy Maguire to name but a few. I have become close enough to all of them that time spent out shooting or even just discussing photography and YouTube distracts me entirely from everything else that is going on in my life.
We laugh, we joke, but mostly we take the piss out of each other. And mucking about with your mates releases another hormone, oxytocin, which is critical to forming social bonds and makes us seek out communities in which we feel safe.
I recommend landscape photography to anyone that suffers from stress; it has helped me an great deal over the last 12 years.
If you know someone that suffers from stress perhaps it would help them to read this article.