The Pandemic and Intentionality

The Stanford encyclopedia of psychology defines intentionality as “the power of minds and mental states to be about, to represent, or to stand for, things, properties, or states of affairs.”

The definition of intentionality refers to what is important in relationships or aspirations. It implies purposeful behaviour that is based on beliefs or values.

Last week I wrote about how the pandemic points us to make life edits.  There is intentionality in making life-editing choices including how to deal with the changes and restrictions we face. If you missed my post on life edits, you can find it here.

The pandemic also brings thoughts of intentionality and purposefulness in our behaviours. What hopes, desires and goals for our lives should we consider during this time?

Setting an Intention

Although there is a new branch of psychology based on intentionality, my introduction to this concept came from yoga.  One of my mentors frequently began class with her invitation to set an intention or goal for the practice that day.  She may have been using the term to motivate us to stay mindful and focused during the class.

Over the years I have used the strategy of setting an intention as part of morning journal writing. It helps me to consider how I will use my time, what projects I’ll pursue, and how I will show up.

Setting an intention -- photo by wonderland courtesy of Unsplash
Setting an Intention — photo by Wonderlane courtesy of Unsplash

Setting intentions helps to develop self-awareness regarding how I face the day. It also helps me to focus on what external influences I will let into my life.

Since the beginning of home-based isolation, the daily search for a meaningful intention for the day provides an anchor. I ask myself questions about what I need to do during the day to nurture myself and to nurture those around me. I think about how I can be kind to myself and how to extend kindness to others.  I wonder about what lessons I can learn from isolation and staying at home.

Finding a meaningful intention for living purposefully until vaccines are widely available and we can see an end to the pandemic restrictions is challenging.  How will I show up during the next weeks and months?

Shorter Time Chunks and Intentions

Since none of us knows how much longer we will live under COVID restrictions to remain safe, it makes sense to look at shorter time chunks.  We can set daily, weekly and monthly intentions to power us through this uncertain time.

For example, it’s now a few weeks before Christmas.  I’m thinking about what I can do in this time period to make the holiday meaningful and fun for me and our small family during the pandemic. We can opt for a change of pace.  It’s not necessary to fill every day with social engagements.  Is there a benefit for missing the lunches, dinners, and parties? Perhaps fewer calories from the many tempting foods and sugary treats is a benefit!

Making our home into a festive environment with candles, potpourri, colourful plants, and music creates feelings of warmth and well-being. Perhaps this is the year to take time to send those hand-written cards and letters for which there was never enough time in the busyness of previous Christmases!

Intentions for Winter

After the holidays, making plans for getting through the short, dark days of winter may be more challenging.  Will I take an online course to learn something new?  I’m tempted by learning options to improve my blog. I may try to learn more about using Gutenberg with WordPress, a topic I’ve avoided with plugins.

I may pursue a forgotten hobby.  After retiring I received a beautiful DSLR camera as a gift.  I’ve hardly used the camera nor the second pocket-sized digital camera that my husband bought for me when I went to South Africa on a 6-week junket.  Am I prepared to spend time and effort to become a better photographer?

Winter holidays are also considerations. Valentine’s Day in February, St. Patrick’s Day in March, and Easter at the beginning of April come to mind.  But, what about lesser holidays in the early months of 2021 such as Martin Luther King Day on January 18 or Chinese New Year on February 12 or International Women’s Day on March 8? Each of these holidays can become a celebration with special foods, commemorative actions, or other markers.

Intentionality and Uncertainty

Setting intentions for the remaining months of pandemic restrictions will reduce the uncertainty of the unknown end date. The promise of vaccines may tempt each of us to take foolish health risks because of perceived good reasons such as seeing family or friends over the holidays rather than using our knowledge of disease prevention to stay healthy.

I’m sure that seizing the uncertainty to create innovative holiday celebrations will create new memories. Some may be positive and some may simply involve getting through this time.

I’m resolved to continue with manageable daily and weekly intentions. Conditions may not be perfect but small accomplishments will (hopefully) keep me motivated and energized.

Thanks for reading my post.  Please comment with your ideas for living well and getting through this pandemic with intentionality.



4 Replies to “The Pandemic and Intentionality”

  1. It’s not quite the same but I do have a digital To Do List with a mix of basic chores and also steps for projects and “adventures” itemised. Prior to Covid restrictions, I treated it as an aide memoire preferring flexibility and impetuosity to a rigorous routine. To cope with lockdown, however, I have relied on that list for bringing structure and challenge to my day which, confined to home or the local area, I find comforting through its focus and a complete opposite to how I have been accustomed to live since retiring. I’m vaguely concerned that it’s a little how I planned my weeks when I was working but hey if that’s what it takes to get me through this, I’m sticking to it.

    1. Living close to home during the pandemic has been a challenge for many. However, it allows us to see the less-appreciated charms in our neighbourhoods such as the multi-coloured wheelie bins you pictured in a recent blog post.
      Your ‘to do’ list sounds well organized especially as you itemize steps for projects! Bravo!
      Isn’t it interesting how the pre-retirement habits we learned continue? Sometimes I feel as frenetic and rushed as I did when busy with my career.
      Be well,

  2. I like the word “intentionality” – as you said it implies purposeful action. For me, I like there to be at least one way each day that I have helped someone, even if it is in a small way. Perhaps it is visiting my mom, calling a friend, making a donation, something. I also like to feel that I did something productive each day – cleaning or organizing a small area, fixing something, making a recipe that will last for a few days. I spend time on my blog, and I like to think it adds some positive cheer or thoughts to the world – even if for only a few. I say my prayers each day. Staying healthy is a top priority – I try to take a walk every day. If your not healthy, you cannot do much. I also want to continue learning – reading blogs helps with that. I do keep a gratitude journal and write in it a couple of times a week. That keeps me positive. I like to think I live with intention. There may be days I miss some of these areas. I wonder if I should write on these intentions each day – the idea to stay focused and not let intentions slip through the cracks. What did I trade a day of my life for?
    Thanks for another thoughtful post.

    1. Your lifestyle certainly incorporates all aspects of intentionality. Like you, I try to make every day of my retirement count. If I don’t experience a sense of accomplishment from a task that’s completed or something that I can cross off my list, it seems as though I’ve lost a day. My journal is a mix of early morning musings including both gratitudes and regrets. I find writing in the journal is like a ‘brain dump’. It clears my mind and sets the intentions for my day. It’s especially helpful on the days when I wake up with heavy thoughts that can set me up for a bad mood!
      Be well,

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