How to Use Mind Mapping for Stress Management

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Women are nurtures by nature, therefore, quick to give to others but inconsistent in their own self-care activities, such as stress management. Given that you and almost every other woman you know feels stressed, this shows a huge gap in potential for addressing women’s mental and emotional well being. To the home managing, career pursuing, family balancing, schedule organizing, do-it-all woman – you need a stress management activity like mind mapping.

With only 15 – 30 minutes needed per session, mind mapping is quick and easy way to organize thoughts and emotions, while creating a space and time in your day to breathe and refocus. Here is how to use mind mapping for stress management.

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How to Use Mind Mapping for Stress Management | A Woman’s Guide

What is mind mapping?

A mind map is a diagram used to visually organize information. It can be used for note taking, journaling and the such. A single mind map is created around an individual concept, with other ideas branching out, in a hierarchy form, to show relationship among the various pieces.

Instead of journaling in a linear fashion, mind mapping takes you from a macro to micro view of your concept or thought. The branches act like a deep dive into the macro concept – each branch being a different angle, sub-topic, thought, etc., which adds context.

Mind mapping was formed within the practice of brainstorming, visual thinking and problem solving, and is used’ by educators, engineers, psychologists and more. Mind maps can be used in professional, personal or educational situations alike – anywhere brainstorming is beneficial. That is why it’s so perfect to use for stress management.

What is stress?

Stress is defined in this excerpt from Cleveland Clinic:

Stress is your body’s response to the daily events that occur in your life. Everyone experiences stress. Stress can be positive and motivate women to achieve notable goals. But stress can also be negative and destructive, taking its toll in many life areas. When stress becomes chronic or excessive, it becomes harder to adapt and cope. Chronic stress builds up so that stress seems like a normal way of life for some women. Oftentimes women are so busy that they do not take time to slow down long enough to think about how stress is negatively affecting them.

How does mind mapping reduce stress?

Mind mapping allows you to organize and analyze your thoughts and emotions. Through this deep dive you are able to perform a root-cause analysis, identifying the reasons behind certain thoughts and emotions. Afterwards, you’re in a position to take action. Once you understand the “why” behind your stress, you’re then able to brainstorm on potential action items to help you resolve. Because there are no rules, limiting the areas of coverage, you can let your mind empty onto a page, which can be therapeutic in itself.

DoYouYoga notes these benefits of mind mapping for stress management:

  • lowers anxiety
  • can be a form of meditation
  • helps you let go
  • fosters personal growth

Why should women utilize mind mapping for stress management?

I appreciate this tweet from The Busy Lifestyle,

But you’re superwoman, right?! You can carry the stress, right?! You get through each day and manage to keep all of the balls in the air. To many, that IS success.

But are you really mentally healthy?

Consider how The Mental Health Foundation defines mental health:

“Being mentally healthy doesn’t just mean that you don’t have mental health problem. If you’re in good mental health you can make the most of your potential, cope with life and play a full part in your family, workplace, community and among friends.”

This is what everyone wants, right? We want to be our complete selves in every situation – the best versions of ourselves, giving our best to our family and making a positive difference. Trying to do all of this nonstop, with no consideration to our mental, physical and emotional health, is where a lot of us end up shorting ourselves and, therefore, everyone else.

Think about the talk that the flight attendants give before a flight. They always instruct passengers to put their oxygen mask on first, before helping someone else.

We HAVE to be able to function well ourselves, in order to handle what life demands – family, career, hobby, goals, our sanity, etc.

How to Mind Map for Stress Management

Step One: identify your focus concept; 2 – 5 minutes

Using the goal of stress management to guide in this process, consider your stress load. Think of the top three things that are causing you stress. Of those three things, choose one to focus on for this session. You can repeat this with the others, later.  

Another way to approach this is to break your stress into categories (i.e. self, family, work, hobby, friends, etc.) and then choose which category you want to work through first.

Once you’ve landed on a single concept, write this concept down in the center of a blank page.

Step Two: brainstorm around your focus concept; 5 minutes

Next, open your mind and spend time in an unfiltered brainstorming mode. Around your focus concept, jot down context to that word. For example, check out this outline to get started.

Try not to overthink this process. This is the “brain dump” part so it’s supposed to be messy.

Step Three: analyze; 7 – 10 minutes

Once you get your emotions out, it’s time to switch to the other side of your brain and work off of facts, not feelings. The goal is to review your mind map, organize your thoughts and see if there are any common themes in your line of thinking.  

Here are examples of questions to ask during this process:

  • Out of what’s listed here, what can I actually control versus what is out of my control?
  • With the things that I can control, what are things I can do to resolve?
  • (my favorite) What out of this REALLY matters and what do I need to let go of?

Step Four: focus on resolution; 5 minutes

Mind mapping is an essential activity for stress management. Not only is the act of emptying your brain incredibly therapeutic, it also gives many different perspectives to a single culprit of stress. This means potential solutions that weren’t present before.

Look for 1 or 2 immediate actions that you can take to start alleviating your stress load. Maybe an action isn’t the key, maybe a path to resolution is inaction. Spend ths gime working through options.

Use the questions in step two to help you determine what you can control versus cannot.

Related Question

How to use mind mapping for goal setting?

Mind mapping is a great method for goal setting. Not only does it help refine your goal, but you are also able to layout steps to achieving the goal. When a goal is partnered with bite-sized action items, it is much more likely to be achieved.

Step One: Layout your initial goal as the single concept.

Step Two: Add context by branching off. Consider why this goal is important, what you’re trying to achieve, what it means if you reach your goal, how it would make you feel, etc.

Step Three: Narrow your focus and add action items. Reflect on your branches, refine your goal, as needed, and then start a list of small action items that will achieve your

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