Nourishing Your Heart Will Make You Happier in Your Homeschool
A step-by-step guide to taking care of your heart
Our culture is rooted in dissecting things into different bits. While this may have been helpful at one point in history, when we were still attempting to understand many things, it has never been the way toward wholesomeness. If we want to be healthy and whole, we need to let ideas merge back together. Taking care of what we refer to as our “heart” is not so far away from the things we need to do to take care of our brains. And some of the things we need to do to take care of our brains are intrinsically linked to our bodies. In short, taking care of ourselves should be focused on covering these basics, and when we do, we will be moving toward health of heart, mind, and body.
To have a big heart, a forgiving heart, a patient heart, we need a few ingredients.
Move Through It
First, we need to make sure we are getting enough oxygen up in our “noggins.” The brain cannot live on sitting-down-reading levels of oxygen all the time; it needs intense bursts, caused by exertion, otherwise known as exercise, and sometimes gained by physically playing.
The heart works better when we have mental clarity, which is gained when we take care of this aspect of our lives. We also need to move more for the sake of our physical hearts. Exercise can also have a therapeutic and calming effect on our spiritual heart. It physically brings us back to the moment in a sort of whole-body meditation.
Deep breathing has also been used as a calming tool, and it is a great way to get a small boost in the moments of tension, when you cannot disappear for a walk or run or swim, or break into dance. It does not replace the level of oxygen your brain and body needs and receives from a good bout of exercise.
Eat Through It
No, I am not suggesting you eat to ease stress. We need a lot of nutrients. Our brain uses up nutrients quickly, and if we want our mental clarity to remain calm while our 7-year-old has a crying meltdown, because we asked them to color a picture of cute animals for science that day…well, let’s just say we are more likely to succeed if we have been eating healthy, nourishing meals.
Nourishing our bodies and brains nourishes our heart, too. When your body receives the nutrients it needs, you are less likely to divert to fight-or-flight response. Whether we are fleeing or fighting, we are not thinking clearly in those moments. When we are not thinking, we are also not paying any attention to our soul, or heart. We act with no regard for the deepest desires of
our hearts. To listen to our hearts, and act on those desires, we need mental clarity. This clarity is much easier to maintain if our bodies don’t think they’re about to starve.
Our bodies thinking they may starve has nothing to do with being skeleton skinny. Any chronic lack of any one of the many essential nutrients our bodies need is enough to send a signal of doom to our brains.
Lean Into Learning
Of course, our brains thrive on information, too; this input is what we need to learn and grow. I think what we refer to as the heart also craves information, usually in the form of encouragement. Getting together with friends, sharing heartaches and triumphs, and reading encouraging stories, all help feed the heart and give us the daily resilience and courage needed to thrive in our homeschools. In part, they do all these amazing things, because they add perspective.
Stories feed the heart. Don’t feel like you need to sink into your own fiction books, if you don’t have time; just choosing awesome stories to read with your kids will go a long way in nourishing your heart.
Love, Love, Love
And we need love. We need to let others love us. This means letting others serve us and accepting help. This means letting our kids lighten our load. It means letting our husbands take care of a task, even if we know they are going to do it “wrong.” I am not telling you to be selfish; love is never an act of taking, but of giving and allowing others to give. Whatever it is your loved ones want to give you, let them.
Moms think they are constantly in the act of loving their children, but it takes a certain mindfulness, and sometimes, we do forget. Our hearts are fed and nourished both by loving and being loved, and we need to focus on both.
Gratitude is a way to make sure we remain in the deep state of loving others. When we habitually remind ourselves of all the blessings in our lives, we will be more patient with those blessings. When we are grateful every time our children and husbands attempt to help, even when it causes us more work, we are practicing accepting their love.
These Basics Matter More Than All The Crazy Hoopla Marketers Try To Sell You as Self-Care
We need to prioritize these things. Often, we think of self-care as difficult, unclear, and perhaps even just selfish, but it is none of these things; it is simply the basics. Nourishing your heart and mind and body is covered by all of the above. These things are not selfish, and these are the same things your kids need. The best way to teach them to take care of their own need for these things in adulthood is to give them to yourself right now. With them. In front of them. Be the fulfilled, happy person you hope they will grow up to be.
Here is your checklist: Move, Eat, Learn, Love. Do these things every day, do them well, and watch yourself, your children, and your home sink into healthy, whole, happy homeschooling days.
Marla Szwast lives in Marietta, Georgia with her husband and six children. She has written articles for The Old Schoolhouse Magazine. She is the author of Stepping Through History: Starting With You!, and a semester long fifth grade science course. Both courses are published online at Schoolhouse Teachers membership website. She writes about home schooling, child development, neuroscience, and the history of education on her blog at: www.jumpintogenius.com, you can also follow her on Facebook @jumpintogenius, or Twitter @MarlaSzwast, or Medium.