Don’t Let Stress Get Behind the Lens

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Stress is unavoidable when working as a photographer. Whether it’s the graphic nature of your work as a journalist, the dangers of covering hot spots, or just the uncertainty that comes with the job, stress can accumulate rapidly and make your job a lot harder. Not a few photographers have given in to the allure of pills to brighten their disposition. However, relying on medication can affect your critical reasoning (and your shots) — and there are ways to de-stress without popping pills.

Exercise

Regular exercise can be as good as medication. Moderate to intense physical activity prompts your body to release endorphins that balance your mood and give you a boost of energy. Regular exercise also controls your weight and increases your endurance. You’ll get to keep up with the younger photographers, and you won’t lose sweat chasing after a lead. Being healthier also allows you to stay on the field.

Most hospitalizations in the US are attributed or connected to obesity and weight gain. Keeping fit keeps you away from hospitals and the financial costs they bring. Make time for at least 15 minutes of physical activity every day. You can go for a run in the mornings or head to the gym after work. Use a bicycle on short trips. That way, you can get your exercise while you’re working.

Reset Your Clock

Long work hours, coupled with insomnia, can leave you spent. Too much time under artificial lighting can screw with your biological clock — making it hard to sleep and dropping your energy levels. You’ll need to reset your internal clock by going out into the sun. Artificial lights can’t replicate the sun’s brightness, and just walking in the morning for a few minutes can reset your biological clock.

You’ll sleep better and have more energy throughout the day. Bathing in sunlight also induces your body to produce serotonin, a neurotransmitter that stabilizes your mood and promotes feelings of well-being and happiness.

photographer in nature

Connect

Photographers are outsiders, always looking through the lens and never becoming part of the scene. Your work’s stress can make you disconnect from friends and family, leaving you feeling isolated and vulnerable. Grab a drink with friends and schedule short visits to your family. Interacting with people you care about releases oxytocin into your body.

Oxytocin (also called the love hormone) promotes feelings of trust, acceptance, and belonging, improving your psychological stability and making it easier for you to relax. Physical contact is usually the prompt for your body to produce oxytocin, but just proximity to your loved ones should be enough. Spend a weekend or two with friends and family once or twice a month, especially when you are particularly feeling down.

Meditate

Stress from work can come in many forms: gruesome crime scenes, dangerous encounters, riled-up people, or just viewing misery through your lens. A few encounters might not seem much, but stress accumulates through the years, sometimes evolving into trauma. Meditation can help you sort through all your buried emotions, allowing you to deal with them before they become a permanent fixture in your life.

There are many ways to meditate. You can take a yoga class and cleanse your mind and body. You can listen to music while thinking about past events and your plans. Even prayers for the forgiveness of sins or renewal of hope counts as meditation. As long as you clear your mind and do a bit of introspection, you’re already meditating.

Working as a photographer is a stressful job. Take time off, go for quick runs, relax with friends, and make sure to spend time processing your innermost feelings.

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