Tomorrow brings us Shrove Tuesday, the day when most of us will be focussed on, and overindulging in, the tradition of pancakes! Following this, we then have Ash Wednesday. This marks the first day of Lent in the Christian church. Lent is the 40 days between Ash Wednesday and Easter. Lent is a season of reflection and preparation before Easter, the pinnacle of the Christian calendar.
Many people will consider giving something up for Lent. This is a hard challenge of course as it isn’t easy to give up something that you like. Lots of people then find that what happens to them during Lent is that they just find a replacement for the thing they have given up! Maybe they decide to give up video games, but then just replace that with more time on Netflix. Giving up sweets or chocolate? Help themselves to second helpings of dinner. You see the pattern. A way to break this pattern would be to give something up by taking something on. Trying to make time to take on a new habit means that something else has to give anyway.
Here are 5 ways that you could take on a new habit during this Lent to help you give up something else.
1 Read more
Whether it be that you try to read for 10 minutes a day, 20 minutes, an hour, whatever works for you, make sure you pick a specific time to do it. It might be first thing in the morning, during your lunch break, or just before bed as a wind-down. What is important is that you do ensure that that time is focused on reading. This doesn’t mean scrolling through your social media feed! It means sitting down and concentrating on a book, a magazine or a newspaper. Learn something new. Let your imagination wander. Wrap up in a blanket, grab a hot chocolate, and enjoy the quiet stillness.
2 Spend real-time with loved ones
Unfortunately, during our busy lives, we seldom spend focussed time with our family and loved ones. Try to commit to an hour every day where you do something meaningful and create memories. Go for a walk to your local park, play a board game, or go on a family day out. Whatever you decide to do, make sure that that time is solely devoted to your loved ones. This is a chance to reconnect, laugh, and spend quality time together, something that always gets missed off our busy schedules.
3 Regular Exercise
We all know how much regular exercise benefits our mental and physical health, but it is still something lots of us will make an excuse to not have to do it. Try to exercise every day for the 40 days of Lent. The most common thing people give up during Lent is food, and then the process of Lent just becomes a racing game to the end when they can indulge in that treat again. Try adding exercise as the replacement for that snack/treat. Instead of that extra cup of coffee to wake you up in the morning, 15 minutes of exercise might do the trick. Instead of the 2nd portion of dinner, go for a 20-minute walk. You’ll feel good and you get to spend some time in the fresh quiet air.
In this current situation, it is really hard to stay positive. There is so much negativity and heartache in the world today that when we put on the news it is hard to feel positive. For the 40 days of Lent, try to bring some positivity into your day. You can’t change what is happening across our country and in others, but you can attempt to change your mindset. Focus on the good things that you have and how lucky you are to have them. Make sure you spend time with positive people, they will help you to have a more positive outlook. You can try reading some positive affirmations at the start/end of your day. If you repeat these enough then they become a mantra for your day and you will begin to believe the things you are saying.
5 Give towards something
Over the next 40 days, think about how you could replace 1 thing a day that you spend money on for yourself, and give that money towards something else. Instead of going to the coffee shop and spending that money on a takeaway coffee, put that amount in the charity box at the till instead. If you can’t give it anywhere at that time, then put it aside for another day. Make a daily effort to use what you have to be kind to someone else. And if you end up skipping a couple of other luxuries along the way to get there, all the better.
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