Art can be so beneficial to your mental health!

Art can be so beneficial to your mental health!

Art has always been a big part of my life.

I grew up with my Dad who worked as a Senior Animator at Walt Disney Animation Australia up until I was 12 years old. So, I was always surrounded by drawing, painting and animators. Even now, I still can't sit and watch an animated film or show with my Dad, without him explaining the ins and outs of animation - and I love it!

I was always drawing. My favourite thing to do, was to draw something new and show my Dad. I still remember, if ever one of my Mickey Mouse drawings wouldn't turn out "right", Dad would just label them as "Mickey Mouse's evil cousin". My Dad taught me so much, and he still does.

After his animation days, Dad opened his own after school art classes for kids. For nearly 10 years I helped out with running the classes and teaching the students. Teaching younger children was such a great way for me to learn.

It was the same during school. I was always eager to do the creative activities. During primary school, I had the most enjoyment when the task was to draw or paint, decorate the title page of a school book, or build a diorama for a project. During high school, art was the main subject that I always looked forward to. I had no idea how much it would get me through what was coming. 

At around 16 years old, I slowly fell into a depression. Anxiety, spiralling emotions and confusion were all suddenly a part of my every day life. I was at an age where I didn't understand anything about mental health. All I knew was how to distract myself. By isolating myself in my room, watching movies, and doing art. I have learnt over time that it's okay to distract yourself when you're feeling out of control, but it isn't healthy for your distraction to turn into avoidance. Which is what I did, for years.

I struggled with depression and anxiety for over 6 years. Even through a lot of hardships that I found myself dealing with through all those years, the main thing that remained constant was using art as a way of escaping. I would always be drawing my favourite celebrities from what ever tv shows or movies I liked. (Ironically, I used to say to people I would never do art as a career because I always worried that if it became a career, I wouldn't love it as much. 

Skipping forward to recent times, my life is a lot different and a lot more positive than it use to be. I now work full time as a Veterinary Nurse. I walked away from a lot of toxic relationships, and no longer struggle with depression. I also did not do art as much - which didn't bother me, I just found that I didn't have as much time as I used to. 

I encourage everyone to let go and fall into the world of art therapy. Doodle in a sketch book, sit in a park and do some painting, or even get out some clay and create the first thing on your mind! It can be so beneficial.

Late 2019 was when I made the effort to get back into art. I recently had gone through another painful loss and knew that to avoid falling back into a dark hole, I needed to put my concentration into something else (other than work). That's when I discovered a super cute art trend! Painted terracotta pots! I spent hours looking at lots of cute designs and the creativity that people had created! It wasn't long before I dived deep into the trend. I played around with lots of different pots for a while and soon made the decision to sell my pots online. This was the beginning of "Matoaka Art".

It became my fun side-hobby, that I didn't take too seriously at first. It was nice to come home from a day of work and just sit down and paint. I could switch off, relax, and empty my mind. It was extremely therapeutic. I eventually started to put in a bit more time and effort. I created an Instagram and began marketing, I made my own business cards, and soon began expanding my shop by adding more products. 

Without me even realising it at the time, art helped to save me, and continues to keep me afloat through life. I still, to this day, struggle with anxiety, overwhelming emotions, and past trauma. And even though I can cope a lot better with my every day stresses on my own, art will always be the one thing that I know will remain constant, and help me to 'switch-off' on my good days and my bad. 

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