How to use a mind map to tackle overwhelm.

When I was in school, I hated mind mapping.

I remember before our GCSE’s, we would have assembly and the teacher would ramble on about how we should mind map to revise, and I just used to zone out because mind mapping just never did it for me.

Suddenly though, the last couple of years, mind-mapping has become my go to. I’m starting to think that maybe the teacher might have been on to something there…

When I am overwhelmed, I know that getting everything out of my head and onto paper helps so much. Depending on what type of thing it is that is overwhelming you, either mind mapping or brain dumping has you covered.

Brain dumping if you are not familiar with the term, is literally just writing down everything you are thinking about, whether that is all the things you need to do, and all the people you need to call, and the groceries that need to be bought, and that thing you really need to not forget but you might just unless you write it down. All that stuff. You literally just get it all out of your brain and onto a piece of paper.

Mind-Mapping (otherwise known as a spider diagram) is similar in that you can use it to get everything out of your brain. But, you can also use it as a brainstorming tool to help you make sense of things.

For example…

This whole starting a blog thing, I have found unbelievably overwhelming. There is so much good information on the internet, but there is also a lot of cross-over and the more you read, the more complicated everything becomes (the same as nutrition!).

So I found the best thing to get out of that overwhelmed/overthinking state, was to make a mind map.

I wrote ‘Slow Simple Chaos’ in the middle and then just branched off all my ideas, the things I would like to write about, some specific, some more general, without thinking about what I was writing or taking my pen off the paper. In fact, at one point my pen couldn’t actually keep up with what my brain was reeling off.

Then once you feel your brain is ’empty’ you can look at the mind map a bit more critically. What branches can be branched together? Does overwhelm and self-care go hand in hand for example, even though you had put them down as separate?

It allows you to see connections where you might not have before, and having it put down on paper lets you process it in a more calmer, logical way than all the information meshing together in your thoughts while you try and figure things out (which just makes the situation more overwhelming and confusing).

You can mind-map anything. Health goals, bedroom ideas, summer holiday plans. Anything.

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How to mind map

Step 1.

Write your topic in the middle of a sheet of paper, then circle it.
e.g. ‘Get Healthy’

Step 2.

Branch off that middle circle where you can write a second heading that is related to the first heading.

Step 3

You can then further branch off that second branch with other sub-headings, how many subheadings you have and how far you go is completely up to you.

Step 4

Repeat with any other relevant headings around the centre circle (you can see why it’s called a spider diagram!)

Step 5

Are there any connections you hadn’t noticed before?
I usually end up writing it out a bit tidier and adding those connections in – but that is totally up to you!

The secret is not to over-think it or to worry about it being pretty or worry about crossing things out, just write and you can make a neater version later!

When you mind-map you are using both hemispheres of your brain together making it a great exercise for your brain as well as sorting out overwhelm – double win there!

Some people find that drawing pictures along-side what they write helps remember things (probably more helpful in revision purposes), but to me that would just over-complicate a simple tool, but I am not the type of person who does draw, maybe it’s your thing and it would benefit you.

Do you use Mind Maps? Let me know if you try it out!

Beth x

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