The 365 Photo-A-Day Challenge 2023
Do you fancy starting a project that could help improve your well-being and increase your creativity.
The 365 photo a day challenge could be just what you are looking for.
There are dedicated groups on social media to the practice and a dedicated website project365. However by following the directions in this article you will also be applying proven science behind positive psychology.
Over the next 365 days, take one photo everyday and place in a gallery. For this challenge I am using Instagram, but you can choose whichever format you want to.
Take a photo every day for the coming year.
There are several categories of pictures you can take as below:
Take a selfie when you are genuinely smiling at something, someone, or are just happy (it is important not to put on a false / fake smile)
Take a picture of something you find beautiful, anything at all
Take a picture of something that you believe someone else will find beautiful and if you wish to, share it with that person.
Take a photo of something that makes you happy
Take a photo of something that you think will make someone else happy
Take a picture of something that inspires you and note why you feel inspired.
As you take some time to sit and reflect on the pictures you may want to write down thoughts, anything that springs to mind. You may choose to share your thoughts to connect or keep them to yourself.
Along the way you may want to learn about photography, a simple google search, will bring you a number of free courses and tutorials.
One of the most important aspects of this challenge, is to enjoy and embrace it. If you miss a day or two, it really doesn’t matter. Some days you might feel inspired to journal a large amount about the photo and other days you might not want to write a word. It isn’t about causing you more stress and pressure, it is simply a way of bringing you into the here and now, of appreciating the beauty that is all around you, and to learn something new, whilst connecting with others. The importance really does lie within the small stuff, not the huge style epiphanies but the everyday beauty that lies around us and within us.
At the end of the year, you will enjoy sitting back and reflecting on the year, acknowledging on the special moments of 2023.
The aim of this challenge is to improve emotional affect and well-being.
The Science Behind The Photo a Day Challenge.
Emotional well-being influences mental health, and positive emotions positively impact on cardiovascular, hormonal and immune functions. They can also promote better sleep and exercise, better problem solving and open-mindedness. As the importance of positive emotions became increasingly recognised the field of Positive Psychology grew.
The above challenge reflects the 5 ways to wellbeing, a set of evidence-based actions that promote mental and emotional health and wellbeing. The actions were developed by the New Economics Foundation and are based on a review of the available research available on well-being.
The 5 ways to wellbeing are:
Connect (connect with others including, friends, family, neighbours, communities and colleagues)
Be active (engage in physical movement, activit
Take Notice (pay attention to the present moment, including thoughts, feelings and the world around you)
Keep Learning (try something new or continue to learn things to stimulate mind and boost confidence)
Give (do something nice for someone else)
Furthermore, the 365 photo challenge task has been evidenced to impact on someone’s identity and understanding of the self, helping to reinforce or reshape daily routines, help identify new interests, and expanding and deepening of relationships. This challenge can be the beginning of something different and can be the instigator of change that is more aligned with your true self.
Why The Smiling Selfie?
Self-perception theory (Bem, 1973) asserts that how people behave, determines how they think and how they feel. A study by Klienke (1998) found that those who engaged in positive facial expressions in a mirror experienced an increase in mood.
Why Journal or comment on the photos?
Seligman (2005) introduced the ‘three good things exercise’, where participants are encouraged to write down three things that day that went well. After one month, participants experienced increased levels of well-being.
Why share photos?
As mentioned in the five ways to wellbeing, doing something nice for someone else can be a route to happiness. Sharing a photo that you believe someone will enjoy and find happiness from, you are giving from your heart to another, and in doing so connecting with another on a much deeper level, another route to well-being. Seligman (2005) identified that writing a letters of gratitude improve happiness.
I hope you enjoy your new challenge, please do comment below if you find this challenge enjoyable. Happy New Year!
Bem DJ, Self-Perception theorys, Advanced Experimental and Social Psychology 1973 (6: 1 – 62)
Cox, A., Brewster, L. (2018) A Digital Photographic Practice and its Impact on Wellbeing. Photographies, vol 11. Issue 1 (113-129)
Klienke CL, Peterson, TR, Rutledge TR Effects of self-generated facial expressions on mood. Journal of Personal Social Psychology 1998 74(1):272
Seligman ME, Steen TA, Parl N, Peterson C., Positive Psychology Progress ; empirical validation of interventions. American Psychologist (2005)
This article is not intended as a substitute for the medical advice of professionals. The reader should consult a health professional in matters relating to his/her health and particularly with respect to any symptoms that may require diagnosis or medical attention.