Mental Health Champions: Why & How Volta Voloshin-Smith of Color Snack Is Helping To Champion Mental Wellness
Exercise. Getting some movement in my day is absolutely essential. I typically do at least 15–20-minute workouts to get my blood going and release endorphins.
As a part of our series about Mental Health Champions helping to promote mental wellness, I had the pleasure to interview Volta Voloshin-Smith.
As the founder and artist behind Color Snack, Volta brings original concepts and brands to life through watercolor illustrations, animations and creative workshops.
Her vibrant designs enable brands to use color & connect with consumers in a meaningful and engaging way, while her original artwork is collected by collectors all over the world. She is the author of Watercolor Snacks, and an alumna of the LinkedIn Creator Accelerator Program.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit. Can you tell us a bit about how you grew up?
I grew up in Moldova, a small country in Eastern Europe. I was born shortly after the fall of the Soviet Union, so times were really challenging in the turmoil of that event. Many years later, my family and I immigrated to the US and I spent a lot of my formative years assimilating into a new culture.
You are currently leading a social impact organization that is helping to promote mental wellness. Can you tell us a bit about what you or your organization are trying to address?
I am passionate about helping others find a moment of calm in their busy lives. I have first-hand experience with Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and ever since that diagnosis I have been on a journey to find ways to cope and minimize the symptoms. Throughout my creative journey I discovered a unique combination of bringing watercolors and meditative breathing exercises together for a calming and soothing experience. I’ve since taught this concept for my community and corporate clients like Home Depot, Michaels, and others.
Can you tell us the backstory about what inspired you to originally feel passionate about this cause?
My watercolor meditation theme is deeply rooted and inspired by the Buddhist concept of drawing an Enzo circle. In 2020 when the world stood still, I turned to art to find relief from anxiety and uncertainty. Learning about the Enzo circle helped me combine the two methods and create a series of meditative watercolor exercises that aim to relieve stress and help focus on the present moment.
Many of us have ideas, dreams, and passions, but never manifest them. They don’t get up and just do it. But you did. Was there an “Aha Moment” that made you decide that you were actually going to step up and do it? What was that final trigger?
I saw how much better this concept made me feel when I was anxious. There was no doubt about it that I saw this as a way of serving and helping others. Art can be incredibly powerful and healing and by sharing these tools, it brings more accessibility for people to partake in creative experiences without necessary pursing art as a career.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company or organization?
Fast forward to 2022 and I was looking for a way to bring the watercolor meditation concept into a mobile app environment. Thanks to my mentor and friend, Lila Smith, I got connected with Alex Melton (of Augmented). He owns a mobile app developing agency in Dallas and he happened to be looking for a project for a hackathon idea. Together we partnered up with CodeUp and offered the hackathon to CodeUp students as a way to give them real life experience with working on an app, along with a cash prize at the end.
I am really excited to see how this app turns out and how it can benefit people to take a moment of their day and relax through a visual meditative exercise.
None of us can be successful without some help along the way. Did you have mentors or cheerleaders who helped you to succeed? Can you tell us a story about their influence?
Lila Smith has been a huge influence in my life. She is my mentor and friend and her attitude of “let’s figure it out and make it happen” is exactly what led me to consider this element of a mobile app more seriously.
According to Mental Health America’s report, over 44 million Americans have a mental health condition. Yet there’s still a stigma about mental illness. Can you share a few reasons you think this is so?
The stigma about mental illness exists, but I believe it is starting to change. A lot more companies and organizations are paying attention to mental health in general, in a post-pandemic world, it’s impossible to ignore. People are also a lot more outspoken, including many celebrities and people of influence are sharing their personal struggles with mental illness, thus shifting the narrative.
In your experience, what should a) individuals b) society, and c) the government do to better support people suffering from mental illness?
Individuals, society and government should encourage education on aspects of mental health and neurodivergence. Normalizing the conversation about mental health and making it more accessible for people will have a tremendous impact for future generations.
What are your 5 strategies you use to promote your own wellbeing and mental wellness? Can you please give a story or example for each?
My 5 strategies for mental wellness are:
- Exercise. Getting some movement in my day is absolutely essential. I typically do at least 15–20-minute workouts to get my blood going and release endorphins.
- Morning pages. This is a practice from the Artist’s Way book by Julia Cameron. The idea is to write 3 pages of whatever comes to your mind. It acts as a great way to write out any worries or anxieties we carry
- Meditation. I use a meditation app that has various sounds and guided meditations to help me get into that quiet place. I recommend doing at least 10–15 minutes a day.
- Get out in nature. If the weather doesn’t permit, looking at nature photos or artwork or listening to nature sounds can have wonderful properties for our wellbeing.
- Making art. Even though I am by profession an artist and illustrator, I still take time to do simple, mindful watercolor techniques for relaxation. These are moments reserved just for me and my paints and my breathing. I like combing breathing techniques for ultimate stress relief.
What are your favorite books, podcasts, or resources that inspire you to be a mental health champion?
Some of my favorite books are:
Life Unlocked by Srini Pillay
The Power of One More by Ed Mylett
Limitless by Jim Kwik
If you could tell other people one thing about why they should consider making a positive impact on our environment or society, like you, what would you tell them?
Serving people and living out your purpose is a magical thing. I highly recommend it.
How can our readers follow you online?
This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!
Mental Health Champions: Why & How Volta Voloshin-Smith of Color Snack Is Helping To Champion… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.