Making a Coping Mindmap for My Bullet Journal

Do you ever just have a hard time coping? Maybe you’re starting a new job or moving to a new place and things are just getting a bit bonkers. Or perhaps you’ve just been diagnosed with something serious or recently lost a loved one and have to keep going on with daily life. When life is suddenly turned upside down, mindfully focusing on how to cope with the change can keep your head above water.

I recently crafted a page in my Bujo that was incredibly therapeutic, relaxing, and uplifting. It was squarely focused on ways I can cope with the pain and anxiety that comes with my chronic illness. It’s very different from other collections or spreads I’ve done, but it’s become one of my most treasured pages!

During the first year after my diagnosis, I found myself talking a lot (ok, let’s be honest – it was virtually non-stop) about my symptoms, doctors, medications, pain, the radical way my life was changing, the impact on my family, and so on. Processing all of this information was very necessary, but I found myself moving from “processing” to “complaining” a lot of the time.

A wise person helped me see that I was experiencing a phase in my life where I had lost control, which is why I was stuck in a negative loop of fixation and complaining. He helped me see that the best remedy for this is to identify what you can control (which is generally how you react and cope with what you’re facing) and then fixate on that instead. For the last 6 years, this is what I have been working on. It has not been easy!

Intentionally Focusing on Positive Ways to Cope

I’ve primarily been focusing on coping with pain and with the negative self-talk, ruminations and downright fear that takes over my mind sometimes (especially during flares). One morning, I realized that I could use my Bujo to help me with this!

I took up my pens (which always make me happy!) and started. I didn’t really know what the end result would be, but I knew I had a lot to say — and this time, it was going to be all positive and helpful. I spent significant time crafting these positive words and ideas for my Bujo, which really helped me to focus my mind on the other side of pain and anxiety — the place where I feel calm and well.

I felt incredible after working on this page! I’d love to share my process (as simple as it was) in case you’d like to give this activity a try and you’re not sure where to start.

Getting Started: Making a List of Coping Skills

I started this activity in a neutral, calm state of mind. I love writing and drawing on Saturday mornings before my husband and kids wake up, so feeling fresh and having some quiet space for this is a great way to start!

I grabbed a regular notebook (my draft notebook) and thought about one question: “What helps me cope with pain and anxiety?” This honestly felt a little daunting, so I just started writing down anything that came to mind. I think I wrote avocados at one point — I could eat those all day. But avocados are not really a coping skill, so … yeah. Still, the important thing here is to just brain-dump everything you can think of.

Next, I looked at the list and tried to come up with categories that made sense so I could organize the list a little. Once I started drawing lines from one item to another, I knew I wanted to create a mind-map. My next step was to start putting things into buckets (categories).

I went through a couple of iterations of this and then my final categories were in place.

  • Play
  • Positivity
  • Mindfulness
  • Gratitude
  • Acceptance
  • Helping Others
  • Productivity
  • Affection

Drafting the Coping Page

Once I had the categories down, I began sketching out the mindmap on some paper. Drawing and mind-mapping is very relaxing and one of my favorite “flow” activities, but just creating a list and categorizing everything was also very soothing. I’d recommend adding that to your BuJo as-is if you’re not up for mindmapping. 🙂

After I had mapped out where everything was going to go, I sketched out the boxes into my BuJo lightly with a pencil. I moved some things around on this second sketch and I like how the spacing came out. Finally, I colored the main categories, wrote in the words and then outlined the boxes.

Surprising Results!

I made this page a few weeks ago and I’ve looked at it a lot several times. The most surprising thing I found is that it calms me not just because of the words and the overall intent of the page, but because it brings me back to the state of mind I was in when I created it! I never would have guessed the emotional association between crafting the page and looking at the page would be so strong. This is why I think it’s really important to start this activity while you’re in a good place.

I hope this sparks some ideas on how to intentionally write/draw about coping skills that can help you get through your own rough days. I’d love to learn if this helped you! Feel free to leave a comment or email me at jess@pineconepapers.com.