Mel Collie


How can Photography help with Anxiety? Part One

I suppose some people think that picking up a camera would increase feelings of worry, anxiety and concern.

I think the exact opposite.

With numbers of women suffering from anxiety soaring, the pressure in modern day life to conform to an ideal seem so prevalent that feelings of low self esteem, not being good enough, perfectionism , people pleasing all seem to contribute to anxiety.

Women are twice as likely to to be diagnosed with anxiety disorders than men.

Not everyone has a GP that listens to anxiety issues, its common that prescriptions for drugs are written , so if thats you, what are you talking, how long have you been on them for, have they helped?

How can something like photography help?

Surely picking up a camera will make things worse?

Worrying about the final image, if you will take a picture thats good enough, anxious about capturing the right light or the perfect clear detailed picture of wildlife or detail of a flower.

As part of my workshops, everyone has a mindset workbook these workbooks involve each person to understand themselves more than they already do.

The main understanding comes from listening to how you speak to yourself.

We are our own worst enemies and the language we use to speak to ourselves we would not tolerate from anyone else. Yet we do it every single day. This disempowering language becomes habitual.

Not good enough

Not worthy

Not thin enough

Not clever enough

Not enough money

Not enough spare time

A dread of the day ahead.

No one wants to listen

The attachment for perfection is killing us.

Balance is often quoted as something we should be striving for, but I don’t think thats what we should aspire to.

Becoming more comfortable with being vulnerable, recognising our feelings, understanding that you are only human, takes work, takes time, but can be achieved through some simple steps.

There are times, when I’ve taken photos and felt a sense of shame before posting them on the internet.

What will people say?

What if they don’t like my work?

What will I do?

Will it make me feel stupid, a failure, my work isn’t enough, I’m not enough?

It’s ok to feel those vulnerable feelings, its NOT ok to brush them under the carpet and tell yourself that you are just being stupid, to put on a brave face and “man up”

Learn to be ok with feelings of sadness, feelings of anxiety, crying. Allow it. Notice it. Learn to recognise it.

Be ok with not feeling ok.

I began to be aware of my own people pleasing perfectionism when I started to write down what was in my head every morning. Just a few lines became a page. I didn’t hold back with just writing the good stuff and hiding the bad stuff.

The bad stuff, the negative stuff is just as important.

We are taught to think happy thoughts and thats ok if you read the positive quotes on social media, but this kind of happy clappy things get sad, scrolled through, and forgotten. Happy positive words on heart hung up in the house get overlooked.

They don’t work.

Understanding your true self is a continual practice. You are never ever still, you are always changing.

Picking up a camera helps document what you see on a day to day basis. Its not about taking an award winning image. Its about capturing your feelings.

Use it to express what you see , how you feel.

Keep it by your bed.

Take 5 - 10 images before you get out of bed. It might be the light as it comes through the curtains , it might be the way the duvet folds over your legs, it might be the dog looking at you waiting for walkies, it might be the rust on the radiator, it might be of your clothes in a pile on the chair or on the floor, it might be the angle of the corner of the room as the shadows play games with the light as it changes from minute to minute.

Everything there tells a story about you. Everything tells a story to you. Its your mind that tells that story through your camera, how you perceive it, with no rules.

Write down some words that are true to how you are feeling that morning.

Don’t hold back, write the good stuff and the not so good stuff.

What will happen?

You might just begin to unravel some patterns that show how you speak to yourself, your expectations , how you compare your life to others on social media, your fears, your hopes, your concerns, your happy talk your sad talk, what are you suppressing?

It sets an energy.

Express how you feel “ I feel this way….”

In Part Two - Do you know which direction you are going? Are you a bit lost? Do you know what you want from your life? Do you need to know how to use a camera settings? How to show emotions through your images instead of worrying about taking a great image. What style of photography can you use that has no rules, so you can allow your imagination to run completely wild?


Photography workshops that work on your mindset, not your shutter speed.

Melanie CollieComment