Platforms like Instagram have turned many of us into budding photographers, but could snapping a daily photo have health benefits?

Thanks to mobile phone cameras and social media, taking and sharing photos has never been easier.

Some people have even challenged themselves to take a photo a day. On Instagram, this popular social phenomenon already has over 1,5 million photos tagged #365 for each day of the year.

But what’s the point? Does it improve our wellbeing?

After studying what photos people took and posted online every day for two months, researchers Dr Liz Brewster of Lancaster University and Dr Andrew Cox of the University of Sheffield say taking a photo each day and posting it online has complex benefits.

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4 Benefits of taking a photo a day

They found that it improves wellbeing through self-care, community interaction and the potential for reminiscence.

It also encourages us to take a moment to be mindful, and look for something different or unusual in the day.

1. It boosts self-care

The research found that taking a daily photo encouraged more exercise and gave some people a sense of purpose, competence and achievement.

“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,” explained one of the research participants.

Related: The side effects of smartphone addiction

2. It encourages community

How many friends have you met or reconnected with via social media?

It’s an increasingly common phenomenon, especially for people who work from home or have retired. Online contact through photo sharing has helped many people manage loneliness and grief while allowing for an opportunity to meet new people with shared interests.

For example, several of the study participants had taken early retirement and found that the contact established via photo-a-day helped replace the daily office chatter that they missed.

3. It’s a way to save happy memories

Who hasn’t scrolled back through their Instagram feed with a smile? It’s a way to capture and recall what could have been happy but fleeting memories.

As one of the study participants explained, “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.”

4. It’s a mindful practice

Mindfulness is often said to the antidote to our stressful lives, but that doesn’t mean you have to meditate every day. Taking a photo a day could also be a mindful practice.

The study researchers say that taking a daily photo is “an active process of meaning-making, in which a new conceptualisation of wellbeing emerges.”

As one participant explained the positive effect of this simple mindful action:

“My job was a very highly stressful role… There were some days when I’d almost not stopped to breathe, you know what I mean… And just the thought: oh wait a moment, no, I’ll stop and take a photograph of this insect sitting on my computer or something. Just taking a moment is very salutary I think.”

So, the next time you see something beautiful – whether it’s a flower or a sunset – don’t fight the urge to take a photo and share it.

Source: Lancaster University via www.sciencedaily.com

While All4Women endeavours to ensure health articles are based on scientific research, health articles should not be considered as a replacement for professional medical advice. Should you have concerns related to this content, it is advised that you discuss them with your personal healthcare provider.