Intention Setting 1-0-1 - How intention setting can help alleviate stress

May 25, 2023

In its most simplest terms, an intention is a plan — or a goal defined by the way you mean to carry it out. It could be something as simple as; I will pick up milk on my way home from work, or it can be more complex, like; I will trust the process.

Intentions are a way for us to decide our emotional response to something before it occurs, but having the best intentions don't always result in the desired outcome. Bummer, right? This is because we are only human, and sometimes we can’t always stick to the plan. And, sometimes our intentions, though they come from a good place, end up doing us or others harm. In these moments, where our intentions are left in the dust of a stress-induced commotion, reflection can help us get back on track. But, we digress. 

How does an intention help you become stress-resilient?

Stressful events will always take place in our lives, no matter who we are or how much we have. This is because we experience stress on a personal level, which in turn means that whatever we perceive to be stressful is. 

If we can choose the way we want to react to a stressful situation by setting an intention, we can help regulate our mood and response so that the event doesn’t cause our bodies and minds to suffer as a result. 

Setting intentions is a form of mindfulness, and is scientifically proven to help lower stress levels in the body. 

The do's and don'ts of intention setting

First rule of thumb, be realistic. Ask yourself, is your intention stretching what you are capable of in that moment as you are right now? If the answer is yes, then simplify. This way, you can begin small and build your confidence as you go.

Secondly, is your intention kind? You may have your heart in the right place, but if you are meeting your intention by sacrificing your health and well-being, then this intention doesn’t serve you on your stress resilience journey. Ask yourself; is my intention stressing me out? If the answer is yes, then take the time to understand why that might be. 

If you can’t set ‘good’ intentions, set neutral ones. This means finding a path towards a more positive outcome by first acknowledging, or accepting, a neutral standpoint. Neutrality is a valid and helpful place to sit in while you’re figuring out positivity. 

Lastly, are you asking too much from yourself? Are you forcing yourself to feel positive about a situation or event that you really didn’t feel positive about? We get it, really, we do. A fake it-till-you-make-it mentality can work, sometimes. But forcing yourself to feel something that isn’t true to how you feel, or are likely to feel, is damaging. It can prevent you from understanding your authentic emotional response. And this is key to knowing how to access positivity without having an underlying sense of dread.

The cliff notes: Be realistic, don’t expect too much of yourself and reflect to perfect.

How do you set an intention?

Intentions don’t have to be about how you handle stress, either. They can be positive, neutral or negative. A more positive intention could be something like; I want to feel happy with the level of effort I put into my workout today, or, today at work, I’ll take regular breaks from my screen. They can even be something as simple as; Today I will focus on three good things. 

They can also be more complex and drilled down into specifics. The good thing about intention setting is that you can create an intention that suits your needs. You can be creative and flexible, depending on how you want to feel or approach stress.

The best part about all of this is that you can do it right here in Stitch, either for when a stressful event you know about is happening, or for more general daily stressors. 

Try setting daily intentions, then reflect to see how you feel they served you. You can adapt them, use them again or try out completely new ones. The world’s your oyster.