How to Journal Your Feelings Using Mandala Art (with free templates)
Mandalas are a popular pattern to colour in – and for good reason - the image of a mandala can be seen in so many areas of nature, from flowers and seashells to snowflakes and crystals. It is also symbolic in spirituality and seen to represent connection to ourselves and the universe.
Added to that is the fact that mandalas are so versatile, and we can work with them in many ways; from hand drawing a pattern, using a compass for a more accurate and intricate design, to printing off ready made patterns for us to simply enjoy colouring in.
In this article we will focus on using printable mandalas to colour in as a mindfulness art therapy activity, but of course, you can always design your own mandala from scratch if you prefer.
Therapeutic art activities form a significant part of what we deliver at The Creative Map, but mandala colouring is one of our favourites. The reason for that is that it can so easily be combined with one of our other favourite topics: journaling for self-care.
Millions of us love journaling – and whether it’s used as a daily gratitude log, a way to reflect on our life, or as a planning tool, we all, from time to time, run out of ideas, or want to change things up a bit.
Whilst we know that writing down your feelings is a worthwhile and cathartic exercise, there are those days when we just don’t feel like it. Attempting to describe how we feel, especially during challenging times can sometimes add more pressure, lower our self-esteem and be too much to ask of ourselves in the moment.
As an alterative to writing in your diary or journal, using a simple therapeutic art activity can give our natural creativity an outlet, create space to express ourselves without needing to find the right words, and double up as a way to end each day feeling positive.
We have provided some full-page free mandala colouring pages for you, as well as some mini mandalas that can be used as a daily journaling tool.
Mandala Art for Beginners
It was important to us that this guide focused on mandala art for beginners; enabling anyone to have a go at journaling their feelings with mandala art, not requiring any experience or desire to create the patterns from scratch.
So, let’s keep it simple:
Download and print off the free workbook above
Find something to colour with - colouring pencils, crayons, felt tips or paint
Choose colours that represent particular feelings for you and use a key to help you remember - here, you can pick your own colours or use the suggestions below
Colour in the first mandala to represent how much you have felt each feeling/emotion either today, for the past week or over the last 6 months
Make a note in your diary to colour in the second mandala one week from today
Colour in the same mandala/pattern on a regular basis: daily, weekly or monthly, and compare how you feel, or use as needed as a healthy self-care habit for relieving stress and anxiety.
Here are some tips as to how you may wish to colour in a pattern like this:
Start from the centre and work outwards
You will see there is an inner circle, followed by three larger rings
Imagine the inner circle is the deepest part of your soul - How do you feel there, and what colour represents that feeling for you?
It can be helpful to think of the rings that make up the core of the mandala as you; your heart and soul; the way you feel about yourself at the deepest level
Moving outwards, the wider curved patterns that look a bit like petals could each represent areas of your life: family, work, health, wealth, friends, interests
The pattern on the outer section of the mandala could represent how you express yourself; how you show up in the world.
Have a first attempt at this, knowing that it’s impossible to get therapeutic art activities wrong – use colours that mean something to you, decide which sections of the mandala represent which areas of your life, and then enjoy the process letting your natural creativity guide you to express yourself without judgement.
The meaning of colour in therapeutic art
It’s more important for you to choose colours that you like; that naturally represent feelings or emotions for you, not least because you are most likely to remember them that way.
But it is interesting to understand a bit about the common meanings of colours too.
Here is a quick guide to the meaning of colour in therapeutic art, the basis of which is taken from how colour is traditionally used within spirituality, religion as well as by many artists themselves.
So, for example, you may create a colour key for your mandala art that looks a bit like this:
As with anything else, take what you want, adapt it to suit you, and leave the rest!
How to use a printable mandala to track your mood
As you can see from the full-page mandala colouring pages, they are quite detailed, and can take some time to colour in. This is a good thing! Choosing a therapeutic art activity such as this can give our brains a break from the day-to-day, allow our minds to wander, and provide some much-needed respite from screens.
But the reality is, you may not have the time to colour in a full-size mandala every single day, and even if you do, you might not want to.
Using colours to represent your feelings and the key aspects of your life can be done on a daily basis, but it’s more likely to be something you reflect on weekly or monthly.
So, how can you use a printable mandala to track your mood, and how can we simplify this process to make it a daily self-care activity you’ll actually want to stick to.
Well, there are many great examples of mood trackers, and it’s a really useful element to include in your diary, journal or bullet journal. You might not always feel like writing about your day, especially if it hasn’t gone to plan, so it can be easier to create a simple representation of those feelings using a ready-made pattern and colours that you connect with.
Firstly, this is a simpler pattern, and therefore works well when scaled down.
Secondly, I’ll demonstrate in the video how to use colours on this pattern as a simple way to journal your feelings on a daily basis.
As a quick guide, you may wish to simplify your colour key to something like:
RED - love
BLUE - calm
YELLOW - happy
GREEN - positive
BLACK - frustrated
GREY – sad
BLUE – good day
GREY – bad day
ORANGE – ok day
Then you could simply choose one or two colours a day to represent how you feel, like this:
The mini mandala printable can either be used as it is, where you print off a new one each week, or you can cut each one out and stick them in your journal.
Using mandala art daily to increase low self-worth
One of the positive benefits of journaling for self-care is that, over time, it can help you to feel better about yourself. From the outside that may sound like a bold claim, but it comes from first-hand experience. The combination of writing down your feelings, which in itself is extremely therapeutic, of expressing yourself in a private space, without the fear of judgement or question, and of giving that time to yourself each day to reflect – another critical step on any journey to self-discovery, is powerful – some might even say, life-changing.
We are talking about a different type of daily activity here; the use of mandala art to record, journal and track your feelings and mood.
An advantage to using an artistic representation of your day, your feelings or your mood, is that it can be much easier to look back on, as opposed to reading through pages of your own thoughts (not that that method isn’t effective too – we just don’t always feel like doing it).
So, whether we’re completing one mini mandala printable per week and then looking at it as a whole, or whether we’re cutting out the patterns to stick in our diary or journal each day, we can instantly see the overall mood of our week.
And that’s what we’re looking for; a majority of one of our ‘positive’ colours. Not a full sheet of red, blue or yellow (or whatever your ‘positive’ colours are), because that’s not real life. We want to embrace the ups and downs, the joys and disappointments, and we want to record them all as proof to ourselves that we are alive and thriving.
However, if we are consistently seeing only our ‘negative’ colours, such as black and grey (or whatever your ‘negative colours are) we can then take some time to reflect on that, decide what to do about it, and monitor how much or how little those colours show up over the coming weeks.
Some tips to help you reflect on your mandala mood tracker:
Set aside a self-care day for reflection – if you can’t make it a day, make it an afternoon, and if you can’t make it an afternoon, make it an hour, but however you do it, give yourself some time to yourself to sit quietly and reflect on your week. This is such a critical aspect of our emotional self-care, but it’s easy to forget, or simply not get around to it in the busyness of our daily lives.
What has been the prominent mood (colour) in your journal this week?
What colour would you like to see more of?
What small change could you make today to feel more like that?
This is where we keep it simple. If you’re looking for a new job, can you make a small change to find a tiny bit more satisfaction in your current role? If your relationship is not going well, can you initiate a conversation to move things along in the right direction? If your self-worth is low, can you build up a routine that includes more of something that makes you happy, or can you ask a friend to remind you of your strengths?
The key is never to try to get ‘there’, it’s to bring the feeling you expect to have once you’re ‘there’ into the present moment.
Colouring in is proven to calm your mind. The sale of adult colouring books has risen year on year since 2015.
So, treat yourself to a self-care day by taking some quiet time to try some mindfulness colouring.
Until next time, look after yourself – you deserve it.