This year, the Christian season of Lent kicks off on Wednesday 1 March and will see people up and down the country giving up a variety of vices. But Lent can be about so much more than trying (and usually failing) to give up something trivial – in fact, it’s an ideal time to make some easy but significant changes, the benefits of which could last far beyond six weeks. Here are our top tips for planning an alternative Lent in 2017.
- Give up talking. No, we’re not suggesting you take a vow of silence for six weeks, but let’s be honest, most of us could do with talking a little less. This Lent, why not really focus on listening when you’re having a conversation? Selflessness has the power not only to affect how the other person feels, but how we feel about ourselves too.
- 40 days of good deeds. In the same vein as tip #1, why not challenge yourself to do one good deed for someone else every day throughout Lent? Something as simple as paying your morning bus driver a compliment or making your busy boss a cup of tea – it will make them smile and give you a warm feeling inside too! For guidance, try 40acts – you’ll receive a daily email with tips on how to ‘give back, do good and live generously’ throughout Lent. Sign up at 40acts.org.uk.
- Spend more time with your loved ones. Life gets hectic and before we know it time has passed us by. So whether it’s your partner, children, parents or an old friend, make a point of spending quality time with them at least once every week throughout Lent. You could even suggest trying something new together each week – pottery painting, snowboarding, hot air ballooning? Or perhaps just teaming up to cook a new recipe together. The memories you make will last way beyond Lent!
- Don’t give up, GET up! Hands up if your New Year’s resolution was to be more active? Hands up if it went down the pan on 2 January? You’re not alone! But Lent is a great time to try again – for six weeks, challenge yourself to join a weekly sports club or gym class, go for a jog or try a fitness DVD every day. You’ll either have a really healthy six weeks (which is great in itself) or you might end up getting into the habit and find yourself making a really significant change to your lifestyle. Go to nhs.uk/Change4Life and click on ‘Find local activities’ to see what you can get involved with in your area.
- Charge yourself for treats. Going cold turkey at Lent is a challenge and the vast majority of us slip once or twice… or several times! So why not use this inevitability in your favour? Every time you eat/do something you’re supposed to have given up, simply add 50p (or your choice of amount) into a jar. Given up chocolate? Add 50p each time you eat some. Sofa junkie? Collect 50p for every hour you spend lounging around. Just think how much change you could accumulate in six weeks! At the end of Lent, you could add it to your rainy day savings, spend it on something you’ve been wanting without having to rely on credit, or even donate it to charity. Result!
Christians Against Poverty (CAP) is a charity determined to reduce hardship in the UK, with the help of local churches. It does this through debt counselling centres, money education programmes, life skills courses, job clubs and release groups. CAP’s services are available to everyone regardless of age, gender, faith or background.
Find out more at capuk.org or call 0800 328 0006.