Doesn't it come round quick? Lent 2017 kicks off today! As usual, the next six weeks will see people 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 an alternative Lent in 2017.
- Give up talking. No, we’re not suggesting you take a vow of silence for the next month and a half, 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 good deeds in 40 days. In the same vein as tip #1, why not challenge yourself to do one good deed for someone else every day throughout Lent? It doesn't need to be anything extravagant or time-consuming; something as simple as paying a compliment can go a long way. For guidance, try 40acts – you’ll receive a daily email with tips on how to ‘give back, do good and live generously’ throughout Lent, with options for people who have lots of time on their hands and not much to spare at all! It's free to sign up here.
- 'Lent' your time to loved ones. 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 suggest trying something new together each week – pottery painting, snowboarding, hot air ballooning? Well, you don't have to go that mad - perhaps just get together to cook and eat together every Friday night? The memories you make will surely 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. Click here to see what family-friendly activities are happening in your area.
- Charge yourself for treats. Going cold turkey at Lent is a challenge and most of us slip once or twice… or several times! So why not use this inevitability in your favour? Every time you eat or 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! 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!
- Buckle down with your Bible. After a suggestion from a friend on Facebook, here's one I've decided to try this Lent - I'm reading one chapter of Exodus (the second book in the Bible) per day. There are 40 chapters in Exodus so it fits nicely, but you could spread any of the books (or a combination) across 40 days. Whether you're a newcomer to the Bible or you've read it hundreds of time, this is a really easy way to get into it. It won't take up a lot of time and (perhaps most importantly) you can do it while eating as much chocolate as you please. That's the kind of Lent I like the sound of.
Got any tips of your own to add? Comment below and let us know.