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Art therapy uses the creative process of making art, whether it be painting, drawing, sculpting, or any other form, to improve your physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Expressing oneself in this artistic way has been proven to help reduce stress and anxiety, improve self-awareness, and help manage and further understand the feelings one may be suppressing or unaware of.
Even if you see no talent in your artistic skills, art therapy can still be beneficial for you, and if you visit counseling services or any kind of therapy, those professionals are often able to help you understand the underlining meanings within the art you’ve created.
I’ve suffered with anxiety since childhood, and, as I furthered myself through high school, that anxiety transformed into a deep-rooted depression that I am now seeking proper treatment for five years after my first diagnosis. At first, I decided to walk my dog Koda in the local park a few times a week for fresh air and sunshine to accompany my new medication. Well, as I was walking through a lightly wooded area in my local park, I noticed something out of place; a lovely blue stone nestled carefully near a tree stump. Polka dots were painted on it in red and silver, as well as the word "LOVE."
My mother, who was with me at the time, remarked about how nice that stone made her feel, and it made me feel that way as well. To be honest, I hadn’t felt that way in a long time. Too much of a long time, I realized. It made me happy that someone in my community wanted me to have love in my life, to know the feeling of loving and being loved. I wanted to do the same, and almost immediately started looking for rocks that I could paint once I got home; since I didn’t have a bag with me, I could only pick up as many as I could comfortably carry.
We stopped by the local dollar store to pick up some paint and brushes, and I set up my little studio on the back porch. Something about the sunlight and the self-reflection I experienced while painting my first rocks truly got me hooked on it. I had taken a picture of the blue "LOVE" rock I found and visited my local "Happiness Rocks" Facebook page, where I learned how to properly seal the paint (to make them more or less weather resistant). I also joined the community of rock painters that had been spreading happiness right under my nose.
Every time I would venture out of my house, I would stuff a rock or two into my purse, all the while keeping an eye out for rocks that I could paint.
My rock painting journey began in late May, and, now in August, almost four months after painting my first rock, it’s slowly become a part of the family dynamic. It isn’t odd for my father to walk past the dining room and see me painting, and it’s frequent that my mom will come home and say, “I saw some rocks that would be perfect for your painting. Let’s go this weekend.” Or, “This is my daughter: She paints rocks.”
Rock painting is a spiritual thing for me also. I’ve always been told that I’m a deeply sensitive person and perfectly capable of stepping into the shoes of another person and seeing things from another perspective. This empathy has been my strength and weakness, and it helps me with deciding on how to paint my rocks.
What color do I use? What words do I inscribe? Polka dots or stripes? These questions might seem fickle to others (my father for example), but to me it all has meaning. My mom will frequently check on me and ask “What does this mean?” or “What’s the inspiration behind this one?”
It has even brought me closer to my dog, which I didn’t think was possible. My inquisitive and fun-loving poodle Koda is now my “Rock Finding Buddy” as I usually take him out on my rock hunting and placing adventures. When Koda is absent, I substitute my boyfriend Matthew (not really substitute, but Koda usually enjoys long walks a little more). Matthew is supportive of my newfound hobby, and tells me frequently how pleased he is with my progress and how proud of me he is.
I never imagined that finding a simple painted rock could help shape my life in just one summer, regarding now only my mental health and well-being but also my relationship with my parents, my dog, and my boyfriend. Not only that but it also brought me a little closer to my community as well, which is really nice.
I guess the moral of this little spiel is paint a rock and put it somewhere because, not only will it make you happy, but it’ll make the people around you happy too.
All the best and until next time :)