That moment when something happens and a hush falls over the room as everyone reaches for their phones? We live for it. Whether it's posting pictures of your latest spring fête or capturing the perfect avocado toast—there's always an Instagram-worthy moment about to happen. And new research indicates that sharing those photos can benefit your health.
In a U.K. study conducted by Liz Brewster of Lancaster University and Andrew M. Cox of the University of Sheffield, participants who took one photo a day and posted them to social media saw multi-faceted benefits and reported a greater sense of well-being.
The study group was comprised of amateur photographers—read: social media users just like you—between 20 and 60 years of age. These participants reported having already interacted with social media by posting photos regularly, but for the purposes of the experiment, they made sure to share a photo per day while researchers tracked their photo content, captions, and the way they engaged with friends and followers. Researchers compared the benefits of the exercise to yoga or drawing daily, and reported that daily photo sharing made participants more mindful and engaged.
At the end of the study, participants talked about their experiences via phone interview. Participants found that it helped them seek out "novel experiences," and find something worthwhile to document every day. One respondent said in their phone interview, "It's really good to be able to take that five minutes every day to do something slightly creative, which I enjoy doing and I think is good for well-being. It's positive in that it gives me something to look for."
The exercise helped participants connect with their communities too. One participant explained that in the evening, they felt compelled to tell their friends and colleagues about the photo they'd taken that day, how they'd chosen the subject, and why they were taking daily photos. Others reported that posting images helped them stay in touch with family members and reminisce over memories the new photos brought to mind. One participant said the conversation around the photos was the most important part of the experiment, and that they were grateful for the chance to connect with others.
Even offline, you can still benefit from looking at photos you take every day. Consider making those daily pictures into home decor, or even gifting fun photo projects to your friends. So go ahead and be the person photographing at breakfast, lunch, and dinner—as long as you share those snaps with your friends and family!
Feeling inspired? Watch how to use photographs in three easy upcycling projects: