Why I Turned to Colouring Mid-Burnout

And how it forced me to set boundaries.

Why is it that peaks in career inevitably lead to valleys in health? What was an unbelievably exciting professional development, editing one of the world’s biggest style and culture magazines, quickly turned into freelancer burnout. And I mean fast. That culmination of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress started to affect all areas of my life — migraines became more frequent, sleep deprivation was a norm, and even the simplest of workouts felt absolutely overwhelming. As for my attitude towards every new writing opportunity that came my way? Downright apathetic.

My peers in the media industry didn’t get it. “You’re living the dream,” they’d insist, implying that needing to slow down was somehow ingratitude. A port in a storm came in the form of my friend, an artist, who suggested that I give adult colouring a try. Citing its many benefits, she promised it would not only calm me, but also prove to be a welcome distraction from the overlapping deadlines that had taken over my life. And while it certainly sounded appealing, I didn’t quite trust myself to set my laptop aside and put colouring pencils to paper — unedited articles and half-written drafts beckoned. That’s when I went online in search of a better solution and stumbled upon something entitled Mandala Art Healing Meditation.

Admittedly, the first thing that piqued my curiosity was the fact that mandala is the Sanskrit word for ‘circle’. An avid traveller, I first picked up on the significance of this closed, corner-less shape during my 2018 trip to the chaotic city of Kathmandu. It was at Boudhanath, the centre of Tibetan Buddhism in the Hindu-majority country of Nepal where I observed monks silently walk clockwise around its white dome. Prayer flags of all colours fluttered in the wind and pilgrims spun the many cylindrical prayer wheels that contained scrolls of Buddhist mantras.

As with the many rhythmic activities that I turn to in times of stress, I found the repetitive nature of this environment relaxing, almost meditative. I started to circumambulate, suddenly aware of the toxicity behind the phrase ‘going around in circles’. At that moment, I had nothing to accomplish except walking the circumference of that stupa, and it felt like highly familiar territory — the circle is present in the repetitive spinning of whirling dervishes as well as in the obligatory ritual of tawaf, both significant in my Muslim faith.

Suitably intrigued, I made my way to Miracles Wellness Center on a Saturday morning, still exhausted from the workweek that hadn’t quite wrapped — and continued well into the weekend. A brief introduction on the mindfulness practice by Rreema Aidasahnni, a Wellness & Energy Healing Therapist, revealed that a mandala is a spiritual symbol that represents the universe in both Hinduism and Buddhism. Its centre, meanwhile, denotes the origin of all existence, the point from which everything began.

The mindfulness practice started with a short meditation, allowing participants a few moments to set intentions. And literally all I found myself craving was more emptiness, as counterintuitive as that sounds. Sure enough, meditation made for an awakening of my body, making me acutely aware of how laboured my breathing was. “The mandala will choose you,” said Rreema. And it did. While many of the mandalas on the table were wonderfully ornate, I gravitated instantly to the one that had an uncomplicated beauty, its simplicity ideal for my state of mind. 

Starting from the centre, one’s intuition dictates what colours are chosen, and mine began with a vibrant orange and bright red to reflect the intensity of life. And once I made it past the centre, I found myself reaching only for shades of blue and purple to fill my mandala’s many layers — a yearning for tranquillity and peace, evidently. What followed was a colouring session during which I was blissfully unaware of time, an absolute luxury in a life riddled with deadlines. Yanked into the present, all I could hear was the sound of repetitive pencil strokes, each reconnecting me with my inner child.

All the sensations that I’d been ignoring for weeks were now screaming for attention, demanding to be heard — throbbing temples, stiff shoulders, sore wrists included. Inwardly acknowledging each ache and pain before continuing, I carried on colouring, becomingly increasingly relaxed with each layer. Rreema later explained that anxiety levels gradually decrease as you colour, lowering your blood pressure and heart rate.

Incidentally, mandala art simultaneously engages both the left and right brain hemispheres — the patterns are symmetrical, while the individualised use of colour employs creativity. Still, conventional art therapy that is more free flowing has its own place, according to Rreema, aiding in cases of trauma recovery.

At home, I’m often guilty of giving up on wellness practices halfway through, but in the serenity of that dimly lit room at Miracles, nothing else mattered until my mandala had been formed. The session wrapped up with a guided meditation to invoke the mandala’s energies to relax, unwind, and focus on the moment. This time around, following Rreema’s lead was a lot easier as she directed us to first focus on the centre before slowly taking in the mandala as a whole, layer by layer. Its hypnotic beauty took hold, revealing everything from stars and petals to the sun and a flower — all elements of nature that unite us as one.

Above all, the appeal of mandala art is its simplicity, its accessibility, making it a great gateway into the world of meditation. At a time when wellness is the ultimate aspiration, there is an undeniably dark side to the wellness industry, one that can sometimes feel exclusive and elitist. But not this. Today, I keep the mandala in my workspace, serving as a much-needed reminder to establish boundaries and schedule time off. “No” is a complete sentence, after all.


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Empowering Self: Unveiling Three Essential Strategies to Overcome Self-Doubt

Empowerment Through Confidence

Self-doubt is a common struggle that many people face. It can hold us back from reaching our full potential and achieving our goals. But what exactly is self-doubt, and how can we overcome it? We will explore the concept of self-doubt and unveil three essential strategies to help you overcome it and empower yourself.

Understanding Self-Doubt

Self-doubt is the lack of confidence in oneself and one’s abilities. It is the inner voice that tells us we are not good enough, smart enough, or capable enough to achieve our goals. It can manifest in different ways, such as fear of failure, imposter syndrome, or constantly seeking validation from others.

Self-doubt can be triggered by past experiences, societal pressures, or our own inner critic. It can hold us back from taking risks, trying new things, or pursuing our passions. However, it is important to remember that self-doubt is a normal part of the human experience and can be overcome with the right strategies.

The Power of Inner Strength

Inner strength is the ability to trust in oneself and one’s abilities. It is the foundation of self-confidence and resilience. When we have inner strength, we are better equipped to face challenges and overcome self-doubt.

Cultivating a Positive Mindset

Our mindset plays a crucial role in how we perceive ourselves and our abilities. A positive mindset involves having a growth mindset, which means believing that our abilities and intelligence can be developed through effort and learning. It also involves reframing negative thoughts into positive ones and focusing on our strengths rather than our weaknesses. Cultivating a positive mindset takes practice, but it can greatly impact how we view ourselves and our potential.

The Importance of Self-Care

Self-care is often overlooked, but it is essential for building inner strength and maintaining a positive mindset. Self-care involves taking care of our physical, emotional, and mental well-being. It can include activities such as exercise, meditation, spending time in nature, or engaging in hobbies. When we prioritise self-care, we are better equipped to handle self-doubt and build our inner strength.


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Strategies to Overcome Self-Doubt

Now that we have a better understanding of self-doubt and its impact, let’s explore three essential strategies to help you overcome self-doubt and empower yourself.

Practice Self-Awareness

Building inner strength takes time and effort, but it is a crucial step in overcoming self-doubt. Here are three strategies to help you cultivate inner strength and empower yourself.

Self-awareness is the ability to recognize and understand our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. It is a crucial first step in overcoming self-doubt because it allows us to identify when self-doubt is present and how it affects us. To practice self-awareness, try journaling or mindfulness exercises. This can help you become more aware of your thoughts and emotions and how they contribute to self-doubt. Once you are aware of your self-doubt triggers, you can work on reframing negative thoughts and building your inner strength.

Set Realistic Goals

Setting realistic goals is important for building confidence and overcoming self-doubt. When we set unrealistic goals, we set ourselves up for failure, which can reinforce self-doubt. Instead, set achievable goals that align with your strengths and values. This will help you build momentum and confidence, which can help you overcome self-doubt in the long run.

Surround Yourself with Positive Influences

The people we surround ourselves with can greatly impact our self-doubt. If you are constantly surrounded by negative influences, it can be challenging to build inner strength and maintain a positive mindset. Instead, surround yourself with positive influences, such as supportive friends and family, mentors, or positive role models. These individuals can provide encouragement and help you stay motivated on your journey to overcoming self-doubt.

Self-doubt is a common feeling that can hold us back from reaching our full potential. However, with the right strategies, we can overcome self-doubt and empower ourselves to achieve our goals. By cultivating inner strength, maintaining a positive mindset, and practising, we can build the confidence and resilience needed to overcome self-doubt. Remember, self-doubt is a normal part of the human experience, and with determination and perseverance, we can overcome it and reach our full potential.

Frequently Asked Questions

How quickly can I expect to see results when applying these strategies to overcome self-doubt?

Results in overcoming self-doubt vary, but with consistent application of strategies, individuals often experience positive shifts in mindset and confidence within a few weeks. Patience and commitment are key to cultivating lasting self-empowerment.

Can these strategies be applied to different aspects of life, such as work or personal relationships?

The self-empowerment strategies provided are versatile and can be seamlessly applied to various life aspects, fostering confidence, resilience, and positive transformations in both professional and personal realms.

Are there additional resources or practices that complement these essential strategies for a more comprehensive self-empowerment journey?

Supplement your self-empowerment journey with additional resources like self-help books, workshops, and mindfulness practices. Incorporating holistic approaches enhances the effectiveness of the essential strategies, providing a well-rounded path to sustained self-empowerment.


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