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The power of intentional thinking and how you can learn how to reduce stress and anxiety by being intentional with your thoughts.
There’s so much stress and worry and fear of the unknown for people. Things like social distancing are causing some people to feel alone and isolated, uncertainties around school is causing stress and worry for parents and families, loss of business is causing financial stress for people all over the world.
Statistics are showing that since the pandemic more people are suffering from stress and anxiety and there has been a greater need for mental health support.
How are you feelings? What are your thoughts?
No one is immune to this….so It’s important to pay to how you’re feeling and your thoughts. With all that’s going on I want you to ask yourself these questions:
Do you find that you are you controlling your thoughts? (you’re in the driver’s seat) or are your thoughts controlling you? (you’re in the passenger seat).
Are you going throughout your day with dread, angry, overwhelmed, fear, anxiety and just waiting for the other shoe to drop? Or are you starting your day with expectation, intention, clarity, or perspective?
If you answered that you start your day the first way, you are not alone in that.
You are not alone. As a licensed clinical mental health professional and a mental fitness consultant, I spend a lot of my time talking about the brain and the power of our thinking. And the importance of getting control over your thinking.
Gain control over your thoughts and reactions
It’s so easy to get hijacked emotionally and just react to things going on around but today I want to provide you with information and strategies on how you can become more aware of your thoughts and emotions and instead of reacting to everything that’s going on, that you gain control and respond in ways that are healthier for you.
The first thing, I want to do, is to talk about what it means to be an intentional thinker. Being intentional means being present, making thoughtful and choices in your life, and living a life that’s purposeful and deliberate. It’s about making conscious choices and decisions to ensure that what you do each day enables you to focus on what’s really important to you.
Goals vs Intentions
I’ve been asked what’s the difference between setting a goal vs intention.
- And goals are normally focused on the future, or a destination or specific achievement
- whereas intentions are in the present moment, it’s something that is lived each day, regardless of whether you achieve the goal or not and intentions are about your relationship with yourself and others
So by learning to set your intention first and combine with goals, you will become someone who enjoys both the journey just as much as the destination.
That is a huge point, as we can get so caught up and this is where the stress, the anxiety, the depression, and the feelings of failure kick in…..Because in our head we have goals, or our dreams or what we’ve placed on the vision board and if they haven’t happened just yet, or they are here just yet, it can create a sense of failure and we that we miss everything that is happening in the present moment.
Being intentional allows you to focus on HOW you want to be in the moment, regardless of the outcome, winning or losing. Goals are great and they can definitely motivate you but they can also begin to produce a feeling that what you currently have isn’t enough, it can make you feel like a failure if you haven’t accomplished the end goal yet and it can discount all the good that is happening in the present moment.
For example….I set a goal because remember goals are normally future oriented to at least try and run 2.5 miles a day thats my goal
Set your intention
I set my intention before I run (which remember is HOW I want to be in the moment and what I want to experience in the moment) so I set my intention to be present on my run, to see or experience nature in a way that I may not have experienced it before, to have meaningful and positive interaction with the people and things that I come in contact with on my run.
If I just focused on my goal of 2.5. miles a day, and a storm comes up or like the last few days its been so hot I’ve had to cut a few of my runs short, I could return home feeling as though I didn’t reach my 2.5 mile goal and only got in 1.8 miles and feel like a failure. But because I’m intentional before going out there and there has never been a run where I have had a positive interaction with a person or nature or experienced or noticed something beautiful. So i’ve always been able to feel a sense of satisfaction and that even though my goal may not have been met, my intention way and I can find joy and happiness in that.
Being intentional or thinking intentionally allows you to get the best out of your thoughts and can shift you from the passenger seat of being hijacked by your emotions to the driver’s seat of your emotions. Which is huge!
The truth is and hopefully with all that is going on in the world right now, you recognize that the only thing which we have complete control over is our thinking. And there is so much power in being intentional with your thoughts.
Adjusting yourself to the present time
As you can see every single day can look completely different. Whatever your goals were, whatever was on your vision before COVID, whatever trips you were planning to take this year, whatever graduation ceremony or playoff game you were planning to attend, has all changed.
So you have to be able to adjust and get control over the only thing that you can, which is your mindset and perspective. The destination may be the same, but the journey along the way may be a little different so we need to buckle up and enjoy the scenery.
To be intentional means you are purposeful in words and actions. It means you are thoughtful in your choices and you are an active participant and presently engaged in your life.
Tips to be more intentional
The first tip I want to give you on how to be more intentional and how to create a practice of intentionality in your thinking which will ultimately help you reduce any stress or anxiety you may have is to really become intentional about OWNING YOUR MORNINGS!
This is key!! How you start your day…dictates everything else. If you can become intentional about OWNING YOUR MORNING and creating a process of purpose you will notice a huge difference in your life.
A process that you can begin immediately is to become very intentional about how you spend the first 20-30 minutes of your morning. What I mean by this is you making a deliberate choice that you will spend time training your mind in the morning.
- Do not pick up your phone
- Spend 20-30 mins in meditation or prayer or just with some intentional thoughts….You can begin to visualize yourself having positive interactions with like-minded people, visualize the feeling of things falling into place and working out for you, visualize having a positive outcome on a difficult situation or conversation with a person
- Use this time to create the idea of HOW you want your day to be..that’s your only job
The beautiful thing about the brain is that when we first wake up we are in whats called an alpha theta brainwave state. This is a brain state that is very powerful and receptive to suggestions.