Pancake day is over. It’s officially the first day of March and the first day of spring, so it’s time to face the music and make a lent promise.
Although Christian tradition suggests fasting for 40 days and 40 nights, a custom which has translated into giving up chocolate, most people fall off the bandwagon very quickly. But why? Perhaps there’s more to life than striving to avoid sweet treats. Here are our three ideas for a more meaningful lent challenge.
Stop saying ‘sorry’ when you mean ‘thank you’
Have you ever been told you apologise too much? It’s all too easy to fall into the trap of over-apologizing to the point of ridiculousness. If you’re the kind of person who always says ‘sorry to bother you…’ before an important chat and apologises when someone walks into you in public, replacing unnecessary ‘sorrys’ with ‘thank you’ is a great lent challenge. Of course, there is always merit in saying sorry when you are being sincere, but chances are you’re overusing the ‘s’ word.
Stay-at-home mum Amanda Elder says ditching her habit of over-apologising has changed her life. “This switch has made me feel so much more empowered,” she writes, “at first, I was surprised that word choice could have so much influence over my feelings, but then it occurred to me that it’s not just my words that changed, but the actions I take before speaking them. Rather than seeking bits of approval and reassurance in apologies, I give them to myself.”
She also says her relationships and self-confidence have improved since she started saying ‘thank you’. But how exactly do you go about making the switch? It’s a matter of training yourself, which is much easier said than done.
Commit to giving yourself a proper break
Not taking regular breaks, and not using our downtime properly when we do, is a massive problem for so many people. It’s all too easy to eat lunch at your desk in the hope of getting a raise, but without taking small, regular, rewarding breaks, you’re not working efficiently.
Jelena Goranovic, who organises Hove Stressbusters, reckons social media is why you never feel truly refreshed after a break. While you may see scrolling through your Facebook timeline, messaging an old friend, or perfecting your Instagram aesthetic as leisurely activities, your smartphone session is sending your stress levels skyrocketing. Jelena says: “We never have breaks in the way that we are constantly processing information and that’s where technology comes in. Scrolling through Facebook is particularly stressful, especially as people keep posting about politics in the past couple of years. It’s not allowing your brain to rest, it’s bringing in more information. It’s not allowing the body and mind to rest.”
In order to solve your break-based woes and social media addiction, Jelena recommends scheduling in regular me-time and sticking to it like it’s a business meeting. Finding what relaxes you, be it running or reading, is key. But so is making sure you actually find time for your relaxation; it’s all too easy to say you enjoy a hot bath or a yoga session, but you won’t de-stress unless you practice relaxation regularly.
Start leading a more conscious lifestyle
It’s all well and good to focus on self-improvement, but most of us could help the planet by making lots of eco-conscious changes in our daily routines. The feeling of helping others (and the environment) often helps improve our own outlook, not to mention the fact that going green can save you some cash.
The great thing about this lent goal is that it can be adapted to suit your personality – serial shopaholics can ditch fast fashion in favour of second-hand shopping, foodies can compost their leftovers (or better still, learn to cook with them), and beauty buffs can switch to cruelty-free brands.
Check out our guest guide to making conscious lifestyle changes in Brighton, written by the wonderful Hermione Berendt. She’s co-founder of local eco-fashion and lifestyle blog The Revival Collective, which is packed with loads more green ideas.
What are you giving up or taking up for lent? Let the Brighton Journal team know in the comments.