Focus on photography

It’s understandable, says Sue Margaret that if emotional and/or mental distress is part of our lived experience, to focus on that, but Next Monday, the 20th of June, will be an opportunity to focus on something which might aid our emotional wellbeing.

Focusing on photography is the theme of a five sessions community activity organised by Leeds City Libraries.

‘Focus on Photography’

will take place in Leeds Libraries, Bramley branch, LS13 (see more details on poster below).

The first session which I attended, took place a couple of weeks ago during Mental Health Awareness week (MHAW16). The focus of MHAW16 week was the value of people’s relationships on their all round wellbeing. Few would doubt the value of relationships to wellbeing, whether that relationship is with self or others, and it would be hard to have one without the other.

Having an absorbing hobby is well known to be a useful aid in having a happy relationship with yourself, and having hobbies and interests help many transcend the cares of their everyday life.

The intention of the ‘Focus on Photography’ sessions is to bring local folks together to collaborate on a short photographic project, it will involve discussion and practise.

Participants will be encouraged to bring along any existing photographs they’ve taken, as well as engage in a local field trip.

Getting involved in group activities can be anxiety provoking for many, especially if it’s the first time. Meeting strangers may similarly be nerve wracking. The event  took place at my local library, a place with which I feel ‘at home’ and this helped dispel any reservations I might have had.

It was obvious that the sessions being launched in MHAW16  would include some mention of mental health. A simple quiz about mental health acted as an ice-breaker.The main focus however was on photography and relationships. Nevertheless people did feel comfortable enough to share some of their experiences and observations about mental wellbeing in the community.

Bramley Library is flooded with natural light because not only does it have huge windows but it also has two art deco glass roof domes. These allow our wonderful, ever changing moody English skies, to influence the mood of this particularly, ideal photographic location. The location has  on previous occasions inspired and enabled me to capture some atmospheric shots.

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I’ve no particular ambition time or money …..yet! to be more than a phone camera snapper. I do have other digital cameras but they are less convenient. Like many people nowadays my phone is always conveniently to hand.

I’m particularly interested in the results reflected light and reflections in glass add to photographic images so I think I’ll make this my focus…..

‘Reflections on a Summer of Light’

If you are in the area at 5pm on the dates mentioned below look forward to sharing ideas and photographs.

Cheers, Sue

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Can a digital app turn my life around?

Why I’m using a digital Android application called Colornote to help me become more organised, less stressed and have more control.

 

Firstly it’s important to know that I am a huge procrastinator. I avoid and forget things. I often catastrophise when faced with something stressful. I can become absent minded and I wonder if this has become a trait of mine.  I have self-diagnosed myself, especially the younger me,  with Attention Deficit Disorder on numerous occasions.  Or at least when I type the symptoms in Google that’s one of the options!

I do know that leaving things to the last minute or missing opportunities isn’t helpful for me.   In the past I tried to write lists on bits of paper and  I even bought a special to do list pad from Wilko’s.  However it didn’t work for me although I know it works for many.  In my case the Wilko’s pad  gradually became submerged under newspapers, paperwork and unopened mail.  I found it six months later and noticed that I was only half way through a to do list.  I had no chance with a scrap of paper!

My organisation skills are one of the first things to slip if my mood becomes low or if I become overly anxious.  This decline in organisation and my ability to manage time effectively can lead to a negative spiraling of my mood.  

Hello digital !

Moving forward a few years and I’m in a slightly different state of mind and my Smartphone is now attached to me like an umbilical cord.  So hey ho, why not try again with digital?  I am trialing Colornote which is an Android App for note taking, to do lists and general organising.  It is free to use,  at least for the basics.

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The verdict

It feels like it’s working and I feel like I need it.  I’ve had a very productive day and I doubt that I would have written a blog post for a while without it, at least not yet.    I also feel very satisfied after I tick things off as I watch a little line appear through the task relegating it to the bottom of the list.

Managing the overwhelming feeling that comes with some of the tasks

Many of us have to manage our mental or emotional health.  We may be less robust in certain areas.   I have to guard against feeling overwhelmed with stress, at least I do presently.   The words to do list immediately send me into a Flight, Fright and Fight response, so I alternate my tasks and soften my approach.   I complete one stressful task and then move on to a comfortable buffer task, I see this as a recovery phase.   For instance a difficult phone call may be followed by ten minutes of guitar practice and even the washing up can feel therapeutic at times.  The app is aesthetically pleasing and user friendly.

It is early days but I’m really hoping that I stick with this app and that it helps to keep me on my toes.

I’d love to hear from anyone who has any  comments, maybe you feel the same way? Maybe you have some tips or questions?  An app you can recommend?  Maybe you feel the opposite ?

Please either leave a message on the blog, send us a tweet or a comment on Facebook. 

Many thanks XXX

Leeds with hot weather, good for wellbeing? Or is it a double edged sword – take our poll!

It’s fabulous weather here in Leeds at the moment!  How does it affect your sense of wellbeing? Take our poll! 


leedsweatherjuly2013This amazingly beautiful weather can be a godsend but it can also act as a trigger and leave me feeling that I should be living a different life…

Over the last few days I have had an increased sense of relaxation and generally felt healthier and happier.   I’ve been eating more fruit and salads and my energy has increased.  I’ve been trying to harness this increase in energy and be more active – which has involved undertaking  a new morning ritual of a ‘Mini-run’  along with a spot of yoga, my own brand ( a few stretches in the flat! ).

However sunny days have also been known to trigger me into thinking that I should have my life more on track, more organised, more settled – just somehow different ! Perhaps perfect?  These thoughts come with the sense that if things were different that I could embrace the day in technicolor . In the past I have felt this acutely. A sunny day can sometimes bring sadness to the forefront.

Here’s a little poll to take part in, not to be taken too seriously – just a little bit of fun, and food for thought! 

Embracing the present regardless of problems… 

Living in the present, is something I strive for and practicing Mindfulness has helped me with this.  Noticing a beautiful flower, taking time to appreciate an exquisite fragrance and feeling the warm breeze on my skin can really help me appreciate the moment! (I even attempted wearing shorts yesterday, only to the nearby post box I hasten to add.)

Seasonal changes do influence my mood, being aware of this helps me remain objective and keeping a sense of stability is something I aim for.  I must admit I find this a much easier task in the sunnier months.  However at times, especially my younger self – has had the tendency to be a little bit too hyper with too much sun.  But  I do love the outdoor life  which seems so much easier to access in the sunshine.  I also adore the increased sense of community that comes with the summer months.

Vicky