The online contact helped people to manage loneliness and grief as well as meeting new people with shared interests.
Taking a photo each day and posting it online can improve wellbeing, say researchers who found that the trend allowed people to indulge in self care and become mindful of the new, unusual things they encounter everyday. Posting a photo online everyday is a popular social phenomenon, with Instagram having over 1.5 million photos tagged #365 for each day of the year while there are thousands of members of Blipfoto, a key photo-a-day site. Researchers from Lancaster University and University of Sheffield in the UK recorded what photos people took, what text they added and how they interacted with others on the photo-a-day site for two months.
They found that taking a daily photo improved wellbeing through self-care, community interaction, taking a moment to be mindful, and looking for something different or unusual in the day were seen as positive well-being benefits of the practice. It also led to more exercise and gave a sense of purpose, competence and achievement. One of the participants said that taking a moment to capture a photograph of something interesting during a stressful work day can feel very positive. “It encourages me out of the house sometimes when I could just sit on my backside with a cup of tea. I’ll think maybe I’ll take a walk down on to the seafront and before I know it I’m two miles along the coast,” another participant said.
The online contact helped people to manage loneliness and grief as well as meeting new people with shared interests. Several participants had taken early retirement and found that the contact established via photo-a-day replaced some of the daily office chatter that they missed. The online interactions created a community based on the photos and accompanying text. The online text was used to provide personal narratives, reminiscences, and explanations of repeated images.
“I’m ever feeling down or something it’s nice to be able to scroll back and see good memories. You know, the photos I’ve taken will have a positive memory attached to it even if it’s something as simple as I had a really lovely half an hour for lunch sitting outside and was feeling really relaxed,” a participant said. The researchers said the practice is “an active process of meaning making, in which a new conceptualisation of wellbeing emerges.”