I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting lately on what it means to be intentional. I’ve realized that I live a lot of my life just passively; not putting much thought into my day to day actions. I wake up, I eat, I work out, etc., but most of the time, I’m just doing these things and my mind is completely elsewhere. I listened to an episode of the MOOD podcast with Lauren Elizabeth last week (episode linked here) and it really got me thinking and wanting to be more intentional with my every day thoughts and actions.

I think it’s important to live with intention. It’s something I want to challenge myself to do and something I challenge all of you to do. I started using The Five Minute Journal every morning and night to really practice gratitude and to be intentional with my time first thing in the morning and before bed in the evenings. I don’t use my phone before going to bed and in turn, I sleep better. I write in my journal or I journal on my diary app on my computer, and then I read before going to sleep. That’s not to say that I don’t sometimes scroll through social media before going to sleep, but I try to limit that to a rare occasion. Aimlessly scrolling through TikTok in bed seems satisfying, but it really just makes me extremely anxious and sends me down a spiral of comparing myself to literal strangers on my phone. Don’t get me wrong- when I’m on TikTok or Instagram during the day I still find myself comparing myself to others, but I try to not do that before bed because I really value sleep and it’s health benefits (yes, sleeping is good for your health).

Be intentional with who you surround yourself with. As I get older, I have realized that I don’t need (nor do I want) a ton of friends. I become more and more picky about who I surround myself with and who’s energy I want to share, because it really does affect your life. I like surrounding myself with people (friends, family) who have similar values and goals as I do. It’s weird outgrowing people, especially friends, but sometimes your lives just don’t align anymore and it’s best to part ways for the sake of your path & sometimes, your mental health.

Be intentional with the food you eat. I’m not suggesting you become vegan or plant based or anything extreme like that. I’m just proposing that you’re mindful of the foods you eat and how they make you feel. I’m the first person to want some McDonald’s french fries and soda- especially after a night out. But I do recognize that I don’t feel great after eating that, and I do feel great after eating other more nutritious and less processed foods. Even with something like coffee, for example. It’s easy to grab a coffee and head out the door in the morning before even eating anything. This quick and mindless decision leads to a quick energy spike in the morning and a subsequent crash a couple hours later. Instead, eat something (even if it’s a breakfast bar or toast), and have your coffee about an hour after waking up. Let your body’s natural cortisol do its thing before loading yourself with caffeine (and probably sugar) first thing in the morning.

Be intentional with the exercise you do. I used to do crazy HIIT workouts because I thought that was the cool thing to do. If I wasn’t lifting crazy weights and getting my heart rate up extremely high, it wasn’t a workout. I’ve found that high intensity/ heavy weight exercises don’t work for me. I don’t like it and it isn’t enjoyable. I don’t like how my body looks when I do workouts like that, so I’ve started doing more low intensity/cardio workouts and I’m so happy with the results. Everyone is different, but that’s what works for me. Don’t just do a certain workout because a fitness blogger on instagram told you to. Find what works for you and your body and make a routine, whether it’s HIIT, pilates, running, or a combo of a few things. Be present during your workout and focus on how you’re fueling your body.

Be intentional with what you listen to/watch. Over the last couple of years, I have become a huge podcast girly. Listening to random songs brings me absolutely no joy or motivation, so I’ve pretty much stopped leisurely listening to music. I do love house music (and Bad Bunny, obviously) and listening to it makes me happy, so that’s what I listen to when I’m in the mood to listen to music. Listening to different podcasts makes me feel like I’m having a conversation with someone and I feel like I’m learning something, even if it’s a mindless conversation between two friends. I also refuse to watch shows that give me bad vibes (ahem, Dahmer) just because they’re trending. If it’s not going to bring anything positive into my life, I don’t want it.

Lastly, be intentional with the way you speak to/about yourself. I am the first person to talk negatively about myself, whether it’s how I look in certain clothes, about my skin, or anything in between. I compare myself to others just because that’s the unfortunate nature of our society. Even when it’s not something physical, I find myself comparing my timeline to those of the people around me (or even worse, strangers on the internet). Remind yourself that what you see online is not real, and that like I have written about before, people only share the positive things. Social media is a highlight reel. The more negative self talk we practice, the more we actually start to believe it. Be intentional with your thoughts and words. Reflect on your blessings and your accomplishments, and remind yourself daily about one thing you love about yourself.

It’s so cliché, but life is so short and can end or drastically change in the blink of an eye. By practicing being intentional, we can live more fulfilling lives and cultivate happiness in our day to day. No one is perfect and I certainly struggle to do all of these things, but let this serve as a reminder to incorporate being intentional with your actions and thought patterns into your (mental health) routine.

Much love,

Nicki G.

P.S. Don’t forget to follow my health and wellness Instagram page, @ewbynicki

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