Start living each moment with purpose
Michelle von Hahn
Welcome to Next Gen Natural, a column where we share a Gen Z perspective on natural health and wellness. I’m Michelle—alive’s Digital Assistant and creator of the Healthy Num Num food blog. I love healthy living and want to inspire you to integrate wellness into all parts of your life, regardless of your age.
Ever feel like you’re just going through the motions of your day without much thought or purpose? You can benefit from being more intentional with every aspect of your life—from the foods you eat, to the people you surround yourself with, to the way you start and end your day. Intentional living can help you feel more present, curb stress, and support your overall well-being. To live an intentional and fulfilling life, you first need to determine your values. Whether that’s spending more quality time with your significant other or prioritizing more downtime for yourself, consider your daily routine and determine if you want to make any changes. From there, fill your day with intentional habits that make each hour feel purposeful. Here are some of my go-to ways to set intentions for different parts of the day.
If you wake up and immediately look at your phone, you’re not alone. Nine out of 10 Gen Z phone users, for example, check their phones before leaving their bedrooms each morning. Next time, ask yourself: What is your intention? Is it to respond to a few emails and then check your social media pages? Or would you prefer to wake up without looking at a screen for as long as you can?
While sometimes I do want to check my social media and work messages right when I wake up, I generally feel better starting my day by going for a walk outside and looking at the sun before the screen. Try charging your phone outside your bedroom to minimize the urge to grab it first thing in the morning.
Acknowledge the types of foods you consistently put in your body. If it’s your goal to eat healthier, choose foods that will make you feel good. To achieve your intentions, maybe that means stocking your fridge and pantry with nutritious foods that can easily be made into a homemade meal. One of my intentions is to eat more whole-food, plant-based meals. To achieve this, I meal prep each Sunday for the following week’s lunches and dinners.
To be intentional when you eat, try sitting down to eat one meal a day with no distractions, such as your phone or TV. This helps your body recognize your fullness cues, express gratitude for the food, and enjoy each bite and flavor. Eating a shared meal together with your partner or friends can also help you feel happy and connected with one another. I aim to have a family meal at least once a week on Sundays.
Movies, TV, social media—these can all have their place in a healthy, balanced lifestyle. For your mental health, however, try to be intentional with what you watch. For example, social media can be an amazing platform to discover new ideas, look at beautiful content, and connect with others. But sometimes I can get distracted and spend more time on my device than I intended.
Recently, I’ve made it my goal to only follow social media accounts that I truly enjoy. I avoid reading negative news and turn off my phone a half hour to an hour before going to sleep, which, to be honest, is normally initiated by our Wi-Fi’s turn-off settings.
Depending on how you like to exercise, set intentions according to what feels best for you. For example, take going for a walk. Do you want to multitask and learn something from a podcast? Or do you want to take a break from listening to anything and just enjoy your surroundings peacefully? I try to move intentionally and listen to my body when deciding what type of workout to do. Sometimes that’s going to a spin class and other times it’s doing a five-minute stretch.
Relaxing not only relieves stress and anxiety, but also helps with your emotional and physical health. Despite these benefits, relaxation is often treated like an indulgence rather than a necessity. To wind down, set time aside each day to do a relaxing activity, like practicing yoga, reading, or journaling. I make this time intentional by focusing on one thing at a time. For instance, when I want to read, I’ll turn my phone off, so I won’t be distracted.