5 Intention-setting Ideas to Support Your Overall Wellness

National Wellness Month!

August has most of us experiencing “the heat” of summer, which makes us humans a little edgier and more prone to irritability, even more so during a pandemic that just won’t go away!  Heat, of all kinds, makes us uncomfortable.  Physical heat has been shown to elevate levels of cortisol in our bodies.  So what might we “do” to make ourselves more comfortable this summer – and perhaps for a lifetime?

National Wellness Month encourages us to focus on our self-care. When we do so, we are actively participating in reducing our stress and keeping us aligned with our authentic self, the one that reflects your inner strength through vulnerability and open-heartedness.  Unfortunately, many of us have been told that self-care is selfish, so we put ourselves last on our list of responsibilities.  When we don’t prioritize our self-care, we disconnect from our authentic self and expose ourselves to toxic stress, making us uncomfortable in our own skins.

To honor August as National Wellness Month, below are intention-setting ideas for you to consider that might support your level of comfort in your own skin, even in the heat, by reinforcing the connection to your authentic self:

  1. Find Your Passion.  Many of us might ask, how do I recognize my authentic self?  Well, a simple place to start is to identify what energizes you.  We engage in a lot of activities, by ourselves and with others, but don’t check-in with ourselves afterwards.  So perhaps taking some time to simply sit with yourself and check-in with your energy level after “doing” something.  Each time you do so, you will begin to identify activities and people that either leave you feeling “up” or “down”.   Consider starting two lists – one to track the uplifting and one for the draining.  Once you have identified several uplifting, energizing activities, perhaps see if you might find a common thread between them.
  2. Find Your Tribe.  I read once that the only difference between ‘illness’ and ‘wellness’ is moving from ‘I’ to ‘We’. To stay connected to your authentic self it is important to build your social support system.  Once we better understood that humans are wired for connection, the culture of independence has been questioned.  We are an interdependent species, so consider taking inventory of your social circle and put a plan in place to surround yourself with supportive people who energize you by encouraging your authentic self to shine. Perhaps find a group to join that represents your core values or set healthy boundaries around how much time and attention you give people who are naysayers.
  3. Find Your Peace.  Our culture of striving – to do more, for perfection, to be accepted – keeps us in a place of unease and disconnected from our authentic self.  Accepting our limitations as the flawed human beings we are is a starting point for attaining more inner peace.  Consider giving yourself more patience and compassion, acting like you are your best friend, talking to yourself like you are talking to your best friend.  Try it for day and check in.  Then perhaps try it for week and check in again.  Take note of what holds you back from being your own best friend.
  4. Find Your Flow. What are some simple daily self-care activities you can add to your schedule?  Perhaps it is drinking more water or making sure to eat breakfast.  Maybe it is to do a 10 minute yoga or meditation practice in the morning.  Consider keeping it real simple and adding just one practice to your day to start.  Check in.  If you are feeling more in the flow and more connected to your authentic self in those moments, consider adding another one the following week.  Take it slow and don’t forget to give yourself patience and compassion during the exploration.
  5. Find Your Purpose.  When we are able to challenge the belief that self-care is selfish, we can begin to hear our supportive inner voice guiding us forward.  Often times it is our inner critic that is so loud we can’t hear our authentic self speaking in our ear.  Creating those self-care opportunities allows for our supportive inner voice to be heard.  We need opportunities to hear that voice to identify what motivates us from the inside, those desires that reside in our hearts.  If you considered Find Your Passion above, perhaps you were able to identify a common thread in those activities and people that energize you.  Your heart’s desire is what it longs for most for you in this world.  When we can align our decisions and actions with our heart’s dream for us, we can find our purpose for getting up each morning and doing what it takes to stay connected to our authentic self.  Once aligned and connected, wellness is found in abundance all around us!

As always, if you try any of these intention-setting ideas for holistic health, I would love to hear about the impact they might have had for you.  Please send me an email at to share!

5 Intention-setting Ideas to Embrace Your Values

Our culture informs us that our needs are not important and instead suggests that it is better to focus on the needs of others.  However, what if I were to say that our needs are our personal values.  Would that make a difference in how you think about and embrace your needs?

As humans, we all have needs.  It might be the need for beauty in our lives or the need to be treated respectfully.  Having needs or values does NOT mean you are needy or selfish!

Why is any of this important?  Why am I focusing on this topic?  Well, because embracing our personal values is a huge step forward in finding and maintaining inner peace.  Being unaware of our values can be compared to driving our car without a destination in mind, where it might appear to others that we are moving ahead, yet we actually feel lost or overwhelmed.

So, below for each benefit of embracing your values, I have also included an exercise to help you identify yours for yourself.  If you have done this in the past, it might be fun to try it again, as your values do evolve as you change and grow.  I hope you will consider trying one!

  1. Become More Self-Aware.  If you have not spent some time in reflection on what is important to you – and are unable to name your top 5 values – then you might feel confused when your reaction to something seems disproportionate to the stimulus.  Everyone holds a core set of personal values that influence – conscious or not – our priorities and reactions.  One way to identify your core values is to consider choices or decisions you have made in the past.  Perhaps consider journaling about several major and minor decisions you have made recently in your life and write down what factors you used to make these decisions.  As you do so, you may discover a pattern in the factors that played into those decisions.  Maybe you redecorated a room in your home where you decided to create a separate area for yourself that included your favorite picture of a sunset and a place to put fresh flowers with the intention to allow yourself to find yourself there when you need some peace and quiet.  And when deciding where you wanted to take your next vacation, you decided to go by yourself to a remote location “to get away from it all”.  From these decisions, you might draw a conclusion that space and beauty are important values of yours, that when those values are not honored, begin to create a sense of uneasiness inside that is hard to define.
  2. Set Healthy Boundaries.  Healthy boundaries that you set for yourself are basically a reflection of your core values.  Therefore, if you have difficulty in setting such healthy boundaries, it starts with identifying your core values.  Again, perhaps find yourself with your journal and write down your responses to the following:  1) What you can and cannot tolerate; 2) What are the rules you try to live by; 3) What values have been instilled in you from your family environment; 4)  What do you admire in others; 5) What might be a deal-breaker in a relationship (e.g. what would cause you to leave a relationship if it was not respected) and 6) What are the things that were hurtful in your family environment that you would not want repeated in your life as an adult.  What emerges from your journaling are your core values and, from this point, you are able to formulate your healthy boundaries in preparation to communicate those boundaries to others.
  3. Guide Decisions. If you are clear on your values, decision-making becomes much easier.  When presented with a difficult decision, by asking yourself the question of “What would someone who values X do in this situation?” can help guide you to make the choice that aligns best with your core values.  Perhaps sit with someone and create a long list of values (or use Marshall Rosenberg’s Nonviolent Communication Needs Inventory as a starting point). See how many you can come up with!  Then, individually go back and read each one, circling the ones that stand out or really resonate with you.  You can circle as many as you want the first read-through.  Go back a second time and begin to cross off some that don’t seem as important as the others, until you narrow the list down to perhaps around a dozen.  From that point, see if you can put them in the order of importance to you.  Once you have the list, consider sharing your top 5 with the other person, offering examples of how these values guided you in a recent decision you made.
  4. Discover Your Purpose.  Many of us search for a life time to figure out what our purpose is in this incarnation.  I believe we search for such a purpose because purpose and meaning is a universal human need.  However, not all of us had the appropriate guidance to uncover our natural gifts or core values.  Discovering our values can help us to identify our purpose with more clarity.  It is hard to know what you want from life or what you want to offer to the world if you are not clear on what is important to you in life.  Knowing your personal values helps you align what you do with who you are, supporting you in offering your gifts to the world with more confidence and ease.  To assist you in discovering your top 5 values, consider the previous exercise and now imagine you are in a boat with the dozen or so values that resonated with you.  Your boat springs a leak!   As the water starts to rise, the only way to stay afloat is to throw a value overboard.  The water continues to rise – another value must go overboard or you will sink.  The only way to save yourself is to continue to throw your values overboard until you are left with your top 5.  And, if you are feeling really brave, throw all values overboard until you have your top one!
  5. Gain Greater Peace.  As you begin to bring your values with you as guides into all of your relationships, including the one with yourself, you will begin to feel more at peace with the boundaries you set, the decisions you make and the work that you do.  I compare identifying your core values to building the foundation of your home.  If you know a solid foundation has at least four footings, what footings are you building your house upon?  Mine is built upon compassion, gratitude, integrity and thoughtfulness.  I’d love you hear yours!

As always, if you try any of these intention-setting ideas for holistic health, I would love to hear about the impact they might have had for you.  Please send me an email at to share!

What is my purpose and why does seeking it matter?

As a young woman working in the predominately male corporate culture, I struggled to find purpose, or meaning, in the work that I did to reduce the frustration, among many other mixed emotions, that I felt on a daily basis.  In fact, I still have a framed print hanging on a wall in my home from a previous employer reflecting a vision that resonated with me on a deep soul level:  Discovery & Hope.  It was also at this same employer that I experienced what has come to be referred to as ‘sexual misconduct’ today.

When I reflect back on that time of my life, one of the things that stands out for me is how I still managed to get up every morning and feel motivated to go to work.  I really enjoyed what I was doing and was able to remind myself that what I was doing was closely tied to improving the health and well-being of others, which was a personal value of mine.  So, although my work conditions were not mentally and emotionally healthy, creating meaning out of the actual work I was doing seemed to propel me forward in life.

Now, flash forward many years later, including a mid-life career change to better align my personal values and gifts with how I engage in the workforce, what weighs on my mind is the rise in the incidence of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease.  I know, through my studies on the normal, natural developmental stages of life that memory loss is to be expected and is a normal part of the aging process.  However, what may not be so well understood is the underlying causes of dementia.  What is coming to light is that chronic stress is associated with damage to a critical part of the brain, specifically the hippocampus, and memory loss and may predict progression from mild cognitive impairment to dementia.

So, when I became aware of recent research suggesting that cultivating a sense of purpose, or meaning in our lives demonstrated a 30% reduction in the risk of developing dementia, it caught my attention!  I don’t believe there is any corresponding research showing such a significant reduction in risk by using any currently available prescription medications when it comes to this age-related disease.  Even more encouraging is that this research suggests that the results are independent of psychological distress, in other words, even if you find yourself in a mentally and emotionally stressful environment, if you are leading a meaningful and goal-driven life, this sense of purpose may be protecting your brain against the risk of developing dementia.

With this new discovery comes hope.  If you feel lost or sense your purpose in life is not so clear, therapy can be a resource.  I know it personally helped me to get in touch with my needs and values, identify false or limiting beliefs I had collected along the way, and gain clarity on aligning my personal priorities and professional goals.  Sometimes we just need to create a sacred place for the exploration to reconnect with our own inner wisdom and ask a fellow journey(wo)men to assist in fine tuning our sense of purpose and meaning to serve as a guide on the journey toward lasting body, mind, and spirit well-being.

If you would like to read more about this emerging research, click on the link below: