‘Love, as it turns out, nourishes your body the way the right balance of sunlight, nutrient-rich soil, and water nourishes plants and allows them to flourish’ (Fredrickson, 2014, p. 4).
As the schools shut on 20th March 2020 and the teaching world embraced a new challenge of remote learning, what had been my ‘normal’ for just under two decades was turned on its head. The routines I had in my ‘teacher identity’ had abruptly stopped and as the whole world embraced the unknown due to the Coronavirus. The path ahead was unclear and unpredictable.
The Nourishment of Life
The ‘new normal’ of working from home had its challenges and pressures, but the reflection time gained when life had changes so much was priceless. As the whole world slowed down, the retreat nature of lockdown opened up the internal gates to review life. It is exactly this process that resonates with the above quote from Barbara Fredrickson. In her book Love 2.0, Fredrickson offers her research on the positive emotion of Love. This idea of the ingredients of nourishment is what I started to pay attention to. What does nourishment look like in my life? And am I getting enough of it? I feel that the nourishment of life will differ from individual to individual with some similarities on the way because it relies on our unique journey of life. So, during this reflection time, this is what I found out. Some I was completely aware of and some I had let fade into the background of my life.
Exercise is really important for physical and mental health.
I know this. I had a passion for dance since a little girl and danced most of my life. I taught dance as a secondary school teacher and I loved it. Now it is the past tense, because I stopped teaching dance a few years ago and then I slowly stopped dance classes and before I knew it, I no longer did it as life and work got busy. I started PE with Joe alongside thousands of people across the world to maintain my fitness. I have a gym membership and because they were shut, I needed to find another way of exercising. What I learnt here is that joy started returning into my fitness, because I had time for it. I used what would be my commuter journey time to exercise. Even though I was exercising, I was resisting it as it took time away from catching up on my teacher workload! Teachers never catch up on workload, as one thing is complete something else replaces it. The lockdown made me realise that I was not showing up to my exercise with positivity, I was almost resenting the time it took. This I changed, and I now feel more joy and excitement that I have taken the time out for me. I feel like I have released a lot of guilt that I was dedicating some time for me and a clear approach of managing my time.
Walking in Nature
I live 5 minutes from a lovely canal full of lovely walks. I have lived in my current house for 7 years and have never walked the canal! I just did not have time. I knew it was nearby but that was it. I walked most days down the canal to create a boundary of the moment when I had finished work for the day, as it is some times difficult to separate work and life when you work from home. I have kept this as a practice, not a daily one, but a weekly one. Walking in nature is good for mental health, as it provides moments of mindfulness and it allows you get fresh air.
Sleep is very important and feeling overwhelmed with workload sometimes disturbs my sleep as I wake up at 3am and think of all the things I need to do!!!!! I still had a lot do but it was somehow different. As the pace of the day slowed down I found my sleep patterns improved. When you have the required sleep for your body then your mood also improves.
Completing unfinished projects
Finishing uncomplete project helps feel productive. The fact that we couldn’t physically see people, plus entertainment and leisure facilities were shut, this opened up time to finish D.I.Y projects. The satisfaction in completing these things that had taken years on the do list was amazing and it meant new things can now be considered.
What ingredients do you need in your life to flourish?
Read more about Kelly Seaward – Ding and read her other articles HERE
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