New Year’s Resolution – ‘I’m going to be less stressed!’
I have heard this mantra many times since the beginning of the year, in various forms but with the same hopes, that we will manage to lessen the stress in our lives in the coming year.
In all walks of life, among all age groups, stress is a very real issue and unless addressed and dealt with it can become a very destructive force in our lives. I recently took early retirement from my job. It was a job I loved and I worked with a great bunch of people, but the job itself was very stressful. After a brush with serious illness a few years ago I decided that a change of lifestyle was required and in some ways it’s only by leaving the stress behind that I realise how much freer I feel. All of us, from time to time, experience the harsher realities of life and people deal with these in a variety of different ways, some positive and some negative. More and more people are experiencing mental health issues due to the impact of an increasingly highly pressured world and it has become imperative that we find ways to counteract this pressure. The popularity of walking groups, running groups, yoga and mindfulness practices, meditation groups, among many other things, are all attempts to find alternative supports in our lives that will nourish the body and help create more healthy minds. Creative arts, especially when pursued for pleasure rather than profit, have a part to play in improving our mood as they help us to get lost in the creative process and forget our negative thoughts. Creative writing, painting, cooking, gardening, playing an instrument, photography, are all pursuits that can absorb our attention and bring enjoyment and fulfilment. Regular exercise, particularly when combined with being outside, brings about chemical changes in the brain that can help us relax and sleep better.
I like to combine exercise with being in nature. Photography offers us a hobby that allows us to use our creative talents while motivating us to get outside, explore the world, capture some of the beauty that is all around us and show that beauty to others. I find that I don’t have to please anyone else with the pictures I take and show, and my progress is at my own pace. Photography is a pursuit that I can take with me wherever I go, as I have my ever ready phone camera with me, and I can train my eyes to seek out photo opportunities even without a camera, an enjoyable activity in itself.
Perhaps one of the most powerful ways in which photography can aid as a stress buster is through the beauty of the images themselves - images that create a positive energy in those who view them and provide a sense of peace, calm and even gratitude in our lives. This was highlighted for me by a recent visit to the National Gallery of Ireland in Dublin to view the Moment in Time: A Legacy of Photographs | Works from the Bank of America Collection, and View of Ireland: Collecting Photography exhibitions, where photography masters, and not so well known photographers, took me on a journey of discovery and led me into the world of their beautiful creations. Their works are truly inspirational!
While it may be true that many New Year’s resolutions have gone by the wayside at this stage, the ambition to become less stressed in our lives is one that I, for one, intend to take seriously. After all – the mind matters!
The only impossible journey is the one you never begin. – Tony Robbins