Anxiety and Photography: A Tool to Help You Heal

This is a re-share of an article that was originally published in 2018.

What if you had a magic wand to give you more confidence and pull you past anxiety? I’ve lived with anxiety most of my life.

I still do, and over time one of the best tools I’ve found for getting past it came as a surprise. Photography helped me get past my own anxiety so I could enjoy life more on my terms.   

I’ve talked to a lot of other moms who are anxious. And sadly, many say having kids amped up their anxiety. I get that. There is just more to be on top of, and the stakes seem higher with your kids.

But it doesn’t have to be so hard.

Recognizing Anxiety

Let me start by saying that I have garden variety anxiety. I was put on medication last year, but I’ve never had an official diagnosis. It does affect my life though. And anxiety in my family is something we deal with daily.

Here’s a quick screening test from Mental Health America.

My anxiety shows up as:

  • nail biting and fidgeting (things I don’t even notice anymore because they happen so often)
  • perfectionistic tendencies
  • questions about being enough and knowing enough and doing enough
  • overplanning and overthinking
  • trying to keep control over everything

Any of that sound familiar? I’ve found that a lot of moms I work with have different physical manifestations of their anxiety, but the overthinking and the self-judgement and questioning come up a lot.

My anxiety shows up when life just feels extra busy and I feel a little out of control. It shows up when I’m trying something new (or even thinking about it—What makes you think you can …?). And it shows up when the unexpected happens.

I’ve written before about healing from grief, and part of that was healing from anxiety.

After our daughter Bella died, all my plans, all the things I had expected for my life changed. I had lost all control and even the illusion that I could control my life. I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t change the situation. I couldn’t fix myself. Or so I thought.

But I did. Slowly. Over time. I healed. I changed.

Anxiety and Photography

I healed myself by tapping into my creativity. I healed myself by picking up my camera.

Holding your camera gives you something to do.

Focusing on a shot takes your attention away from the swarm of questions anxiety fills your head with.

And creating something just feels good. Creating gives you direction when everything (including you) feels out of control.

Recently I went on a trip with my daughter’s Girl Scout troop. I was a little anxious because I didn’t know the other moms going all that well, but I brought my camera to take pictures of the girls. It gave me a purpose and a focus. I relaxed a little more. We had a great time.

Could Photography Heal Your Anxiety?

Tapping into creativity is an amazing way for anybody to work on anxiety, and photography makes sense. You can take your camera anywhere. If you use your phone camera, you’ve always got it with you. You don’t have to know a lot to get benefit. Just start snapping away.

As you do, you might want to know more. How can I get a better shot? What do these other options on my camera mean?

For some people, learning photography can amp up anxiety a little. Your anxiety frames it as: “I don’t know how to take good pictures. I can’t use my camera. I’m not creative really.”

But you can reframe that.

Just like you can learn to take a new perspective for a better picture, you can take a new perspective and frame learning photography as the excitement of learning something new, giving yourself the opportunity to reconnect with your creative self, and a chance to build your confidence as you build new skills.  

I love seeing the way people’s pictures improve after they take a Momtography® class. I love even more seeing their confidence grow and their anxiety fade.

Go pick up your camera. Play with it. Have fun.