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Seeing life through a different lens at tricky times

After what we’ve been through it’s OK to feel differently, and as we enter a new normal it is more important than ever to look after our physical and mental wellbeing.

This week, Project Officer for UNESCO Biosphere Isle of Man, Jo Overty, talks about seeing life through a different lens at tricky times.

With its scenic glens, dramatic uplands and crashing seas, the Isle of Man is a photographer’s paradise. But there is much more to be gained through getting out and about with a camera than a spectacular shot of a sunset. A stomp over a hilltop with a camera is great for getting away from the stresses and strains of everyday life. It’s impossible not to be ‘in the moment’ while exploring a new area and spotting things to snap.

I suffer from anxiety, as so many of us do these days. I took up photography as a hobby to get me out of doors, look at the horizon and stop the mind whirring. I don’t strive for perfection. In fact, I return from most excursions with a disappointing array of images that don’t see the light of day. But, for those few hours, I have escaped the hum-drum, employed my senses and truly appreciated my surroundings. Before I set off, I can feel frazzled, but I force myself out. Giving yourself permission to switch off is half the battle for us worriers.

As well as spotting something new to shoot, I love just smelling the air and listening to the sounds around me. Often just birdsong, the wind whistling through the trees, the sea swirling over stones - or, that priceless commodity, silence.

Photography has led me to tread back streets, poke my nose into buildings and clamber around parts of our Biosphere that I haven’t been to in 32 years living here, so it’s good for curiosity, and learning about our Island, too. And I may not return home with Instagram-able images, but I always return with a huge appreciation for this wonderful place we call home.

As well as pressing the shutter a few times, I feel like I have pressed reset on my busy brain, somehow. And the good thing is you don’t need expensive equipment to take up photography. It is a hobby anyone can enjoy. These days, we all have a camera in our pockets in the form of our phones (don’t explore unfamiliar terrain without a phone, as a twisted ankle on a remote hillside taught me). As the technology improves, you can get really great shots from phone cameras. It saves carrying all that ‘stuff’, too.

Some great apps allow you to speedily turn your unique images into greetings cards and postcards: great for sending a little personalised reminder about the Isle of Man to a loved one who can’t make it over here at present. Or simply enjoy looking back at them and remembering that moment’s peace and tranquillity in a frantic world.

To learn more about Biosphere Isle of Man, visit their website