Posting photos on social media can accomplish more than just showing off your photography skills. According to a study published in Health: An Interdisciplinary Journal for the Social Study of Health, Illness and Medicine, taking a photo each day and posting it online with a caption may actually support improved well-being.

Researchers examined the photos and captions study participants posted daily for a year on Instagram, as well as how the amateur photographers interacted with people who commented on the photos. Among the findings were that taking time away from a stressful period of work, for example, to take a simple photograph of something outside the office window provided a few relaxing moments that felt very therapeutic. Others noted that getting outside to take pictures got them up and moving about more, which boosted their mood. And still other “photographers” found some uplifting validation when their photos received positive feedback online. Some participants found that they enjoyed looking back through their own photographs because they reminded them of happy, simple moments of the past year.

The researchers suggest that taking pictures and sharing them are simple examples of “meaning making,” a psychological term that refers to how a person makes sense of the relationships and situations in his or her life.

This article originally appeared in Mind, Mood & Memory, a publication of the Department of Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital, dedicated to maintaining mental fitness for middle age and beyond.

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