Mental Health Tips: The Power of Setting Intentions

The last year and a half hasn’t been too kind to our mental health, has it? The pandemic transformed our lives drastically and even though we have seen a semblance of some normalcy in recent months, so many of us are still worried about the future. 
In a time like this, it can be really difficult to remain optimistic and think positively about the future when we are surrounded by negativity and when our recent past has been quite depressing. But mental health experts recommend using a unique tool that can transform the way you look at your life – setting “intentions”.

What are “intentions” and how are they different from resolutions?

Setting Intentions, writing down
So what does setting intentions mean? Is it the same as setting resolutions or goals? Not quite.
A resolution is a statement to change something you want to fix about yourself or your lifestyle. While there’s nothing wrong with this, resolutions can lead to constant negative thoughts about your current situation. An intention, on the other hand, is more focused on creating abundance in your life.
Similarly, a goal is on a specific endpoint – like shedding 10 kgs in a month, finishing a job, or improving your saving skills. However, they do tend to suggest to your mind that your current situation is imperfect and hence can inspire negative thoughts. Intentions are qualitative and compassionate. Yes, they too include some specificity, but intentions are things you want to manifest in your life or some guiding principle that you want to live by. For example, an intention could simply be about feeling positive, letting go of your fears, learning to appreciate your body, being more compassionate, or not losing your temper.
So instead of setting hard and fast goals that are either achieved or broken, you will be setting extensive ideas with intentions that help you make changes in your life in a gentler, more compassionate way. 
The basic idea is that with intentions, instead of being focused on a specific outcome, your purpose will be more on the journey. It's a commitment to what you want the journey to be about. As a result, you will be more inspired to take action, as opposed to pressuring yourself to do so.

How to Set Daily Intentions

Find a quiet place and reflect

Setting Intentions, reflect
To begin the process of setting intentions, you must first try and find a quiet space where you will not be disturbed and be alone. That’s because before you set an intention, you must first reflect on your past experiences and actions and how they have affected your life. 
Start by focusing your energies on the happy and positive memories of the past. Think back on how they made you feel. Let those feelings fill you up. Then shift your focus to some of the negative emotions you have experienced as well as the disappointments. Let them simmer. 
Take your time to contemplate what is moving through various realms of your life – from your relationships and sense of purpose to your work and your leisure time. Consider where you feel you could improve a little.
The more time you spend reflecting quietly, the more you will be able to bring out the fundamental truths of your life in the open.

Make a list of things that worked for you and didn’t in the last year

Your next task is simple: make a list of the things that worked for you in the last year and things that didn’t. Yes, if we could, we would all love to erase 2020 from our lives altogether. But, it’s important to reflect on the previous year as it allows you to see where you’re at right now. Then, you can form a plan of action for where you want to go.

So ask yourself some of these questions: 

What moments brought you the most joy? 

What moments brought you the most heartache?

Did you grow as a person?

Where did you fall short?

What changes you could have made?

Next, make a list of things that worked and things that didn’t. For example, you might add “eating healthy” under the ‘Things that didn’t work’ section and “spending time with myself” under the ‘Things that worked’. 

Listing these things down from your past year is a good way to understand where you’re at currently and recognize the parts where you’ve made progress and where you’ve fallen behind.

Related: In Search of Happiness? Keep These Tips in Mind

Now pick a main intention to focus on

Once you have made the list, your next obvious step is to pick an intention that you would want to work toward. Take a look at that list of what didn’t work and choose at least one main thing you would like to change. It can be something as simple as getting up early in the morning, being more patient, or eating more fruits. 

When you begin, it’s important to set your intentions one at a time. This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t try and work on other areas, but choosing one intention at a time makes it more doable. Moreover, you won’t be pressuring yourself unnecessarily this way.

Write down the intention and the actions you must take to achieve it

Setting Intentions, journaling

Now that you know what your intention is, write it down. For example, your intention is to go for a brisk walk early in the morning. Or maybe reading 10 pages from a book every day. Write down the intention in your journal daily. This will remind you constantly of what you need to do. 

Also, do remember that your intentions will be effective when they are grounded in reality and clear. Mental health experts say that writing down and reviewing your intentions clearly and regularly greatly increases the probability of completing them.

Start implementing your intentions. But take your time

After you have determined your intention and written it down, your next step is to start implementing it in your life. Breaking your intention down into very small and attainable goals will help. For example, if your intention is to “feel better about myself today”, start by reminding yourself of the things that you are grateful for - maybe your kids, your home, your pet, your health, or your job. Keep reminding yourself of these things every day; write it down on a sticky note, if needed, and stick it somewhere where you can see it all the time. In time, you should be able to start feeling naturally positive about your life. 

Remember, don’t get bogged down if you don’t find immediate success with your intentions. Slow and steady wins the race, after all. Be gentle with yourself and keep reminding yourself that not every intention will work. It’s okay. Every intention is an experiment and an experience. Allow your intention to manifest slowly and then it will last.

Some examples of intentions

If you are having trouble setting an intention, here are some examples that can help you get started.

* I intend to stop taking things personally.

* I intend to forgive myself.

* I intend to keep my temper in check with my kids.

* I intend to meditate today.

* I intend to take activities that are outside my comfort zone.

* I intend to let myself move freely and confidently.

* I intend to manifest happiness naturally.

* I intend to prioritize my peace of mind.

* I intent to go to bed early.

* I intend to be grateful for three things today.

* I intend to bring abundance and love into my life.

We hope these examples help you pick and choose the best intentions to get you started on your journey.

Related: How to Beat Self Doubt and Get Closer to Your Goals

Benefits of setting intentions 

Setting Intentions, Benefits  freedom

Lastly, once you have set your intentions, make sure you spend about five minutes every morning with them. Let the feeling into the words you’ve written permeate every cell in your body. When you start acting upon your intentions regularly, you will start realizing the benefits of setting them. For example:

* They will provide you order and direction.

* They will allow you to become more compassionate as you will be channeling your emotional, physical, and spiritual resources towards a goal that is helping you become better.

* Setting intentions can help you become unstuck as you start working on a goal that brings a positive change in your life. That might set you on a path of focusing on more such positive intentions and make you feel free from within. 

* Setting an intention will give you more control of your life and that will help you feel inspired and empowered. 

* Setting intentions moves your mind away from the negative things in your life and directs it towards living in the moment. Ultimately, this will give your life more purpose.

Share this useful article with your loved ones! 

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