There is a lot in the press about mental health this week (although I suspect the news about a general election may mean it slips a bit!). And I have had a tough couple of weeks which has left me a little drained and distracted. So how does being creative help me when I feel like this?
I have, for a long time believed in the power of creativity to help us, as human beings, feel happy. That could be taking a photo, baking a cake or cook a special dinner, painting a picture (or a room or piece of furniture), sewing, knitting or crocheting... the list goes on. There are lots of different ways that we can satisfy the human need to make something. That doesn't mean we will all become artists, chefs etc. but we will all gain something intrinsically satisfying from the act of creation. We feel more connected to ourselves and the world around us.
What appears, to me, to be central to all these different activities is the period of focus that helps quiet the mind so nothing else exists. When I am photographing something I am totally focused on what I can see in my viewfinder and usually nothing else. That switches off the chatter in my brain created by a busy life with multiple demands. And the type of photography that most powerfully enables me to do this is when I am playing, doing it just for fun, experimenting with an idea.... I do lose myself in the moment when completing photographs for a client but it is not necessarily as powerful.
When I bake biscuits or cakes usually I find the process calming, therapeutic and, dare I say it...joyful!
And sometimes doing something creative, regardless of the results, helps my brain work out solutions or a better perspective on current projects or demands. Edouard Boubet, the French photographer, said "..photography is what has allowed me to get outside of myself."
I love the way your brain stills carries on in the background, problem solving, storing and organising. And that definitely makes me happier!
But, if I'm being really honest, sometimes I really have to make myself do it even though I know what benefit I will get out of it. I might have to make myself grab a camera rather than my phone and go out into the garden or find something in the kitchen. I might actually need to get out and about in the outdoors to gain the maximum benefit - knowing places that are practical to get to at short notice really helps. And being outside often makes me happy too - a double win!
If photography is where I'm stuck - I'll look at doing something else creative - amazing how that sometimes can provide the inspiration I need.
It can be 10 minutes, it could be a couple of hours - it all works; even if the photos I take are consigned to the trash afterwards. The results are not always important - it's the doing.
Wishing you a happy and creative week!
Read more about this in the following articles.
Check out Henry Lohmeyer on Instagram. Henry has used his creativity to come back from the rock bottom place that his addiction resulted in. His photography is soulful and hopeful whilst being rooted in the issues of the world and his life.