Healthy Spirit & Intention Setting

When we speak about well-being, we are using this term with the understanding that our well-being is dependent upon multiple factors in our life. Here at USD, our health promotion team often refers to the following visual to help remind us of the different dimensions that make up our holistic sense of well-being. As you’ll see below, one’s spirituality can impact how we experience a sense of purpose and meaning in life, both on an individual and communal level. 

The Intersection of Healthy Spirit & Intention Setting 


The intersectionality of spirituality and wellness can be observed through various factors including but not limited to religious faith, values, ethics and morals. Regardless of whether you believe in a particular religious faith, there is always something to be learned about how you see yourself in the world.

Spiritual wellness not only allows you to seek meaning and purpose in human existence, but it also allows you to appreciate your life experiences for what they are. When you find meaning in your life experiences, it can be easier to develop a harmony with your inner self and the outside world. 

It is also important to know that spiritual wellness does not mandate you to practice or identify with a religious practice. However, religion may be one route you may take to boost your spiritual wellness. Below are some recommendations for you to explore as you focus on your spiritual well-being.

  • Explore your inner self. Take time to think about who you are. Practicing various art forms such as journaling, poetry, drawing, painting, music, or dance can be a helpful tool to begin this kind of personal reflection. 
  • If you experience a life-changing event, take some time to think about the impact it’s had on your life. Journaling, prayer, therapy, and support groups are examples of tools that might help you to explore these bigger questions and impactful events.
  • Spend time meditating or practicing mindful relaxation as part of your regular self-care practice. We encourage you to visit this You Are USD page for some helpful resources and tips on practicing mindfulness. 
  • Practice acceptance. Learning to accept the things in our life that we have control over and the areas we don’t can be a very helpful practice towards healing and growth.  
  • Be curious. If something happens that makes you even the slightest bit curious, take a moment to explore the experience a little deeper. 
  • Look for a religious faith or spiritual community that aligns with your values. Reflecting alongside others can be beneficial for our own personal growth. A reminder that you do not need to be a part of a formalized group or organization to do this.   


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Intention Setting & Regular Reflection

As we wrap up 2020 and prepare for 2021, we are naturally inclined to reflect back on the past year. We can all agree that 2020 was more challenging and difficult than many of us could have expected. The COVID-19 pandemic impacted our world in unimaginable ways and continues to shape how we connect with others and experience our daily lives. With all the challenges we are continuing to navigate, it is even more important that you make time to recognize and honor the many things you have overcome and accomplished this past year. Pausing to reflect back on where you experienced joy, gratitude, and peace amidst the darkness, grief, and overwhelmingness of 2020 can be a helpful practice in finding meaning and a sense of connection to others. 

One tool that can help you practice more regular reflecting is the Ignatian Daily Examen. Although this prayer originates from the St. Ignatius of the Jesuit order, we’ve found that it can also be easily adapted to support a more spiritual reflection practice for those who don’t identify with a religious practice. This practice encourages you to take time each day to notice where you experienced goodness/light/joy, recognize and let go of any challenges or shortcomings, and set an intention for the new day ahead. We have included a revised version of this tool below that has been adapted by the Clear & Cultivate Method; a community for self reflection, growth, and connection. We invite you to use this tool as part of your daily practice and/or as you reflect on this past year and begin to think about what hopes and intentions you would like to carry into 2021. 

The Daily Review

  • Review the day with gratitude.
  • Be still. 
  • Become aware of your breath and the presence of love.
  • Check in with your heart and ask yourself these four questions:
  1. When did you feel the most alive today?
  2. When did you feel the most drained today?
  3. When could you have shown up better? 

(Let go with compassion and forgiveness. Forgive yourself and others for any shortcomings. Reflect with non-judgment and loving kindness.)

  1. What lessons will you take with you moving forward?

Setting Intentions for 2021

As you think about the new year ahead, it can be helpful to envision how you want to show up and care for your own well-being and those around you. Artist Kimothy Joy creates a Wheel of Intentions PDF every year for you to use as you reflect on the various dimensions of your well-being. I encourage you to download her complete Wheel of Intentions Guide on her website here: This is a wonderful and free resource that can be used to help guide you along as you reflect back on what worked well this past year, what areas you would like to invest more energy in and general intentions you want to incorporate into your life to better support the many dimensions of your well-being. 

As you spend time reflecting on this, please remember to recognize all of your efforts and accomplishments from this past year and be gentle with yourself as you reflect on your intentions for the New Year. You can choose to complete this reflective exercise on your own or invite loved ones to do it with you so that you can share in conversation and support one another’s hopes for the New Year. However you decide to reflect during this time, we want to remind you that your value does not lie in projects/tasks completed but in your own sense of well-being. We hope 2021 will bring you continued well-being in all aspects of your life. 

As a reminder, there are many resources available to USD students (noted below). Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you need additional support or are concerned about a friend or peer during this holiday season. We are always here to support you and our USD community.