Lent starts today and although our denomination does not typically celebrate Lent, I like the tradition of giving something up as a way to focus on my faith. In years past, I gave up caffeine and added strength training. I know Lent is about giving things up, but I liked the idea of giving up something I didn’t need and adding something I did need.
That year I did well. I got rid of caffeine and to this day hardly drink caffeinated drinks and I’m fairly consistent with strength training although I could always do better.
This year I’ve been thinking about why giving things up can be healthy for you physically and mentally. I did a few searches and found that people tend to give up things for Lent that fall into a couple of different categories. Here’s an article that has pulled together the most common things people give up for Lent from Twitter.
1) Habits They Want to Break
Some people give up a habit they want to break such as smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol, watching certain television shows, or eating too much of a certain food. Other people give up gossiping, swearing, negativity, or nail biting.
2) Things They Enjoy
People observing Lent often give up things they enjoy as a way to prepare for Easter. They might give up chocolate, Facebook or Pinterest, a hobby they enjoy, or favorite television program. I read a post that described how someone gave up sleeping on their bed for 40 days. I don’t think I could do that one.
Like in years past, I’ve thought a lot about giving things up for Lent and wondered if there is a long-term value to it. I was talking to my daughter this morning, who is stranded along with the rest of us because of ice and snow. You know you live in the South where your town has two or three snow plows. We just have to wait for the snow to melt because they never plow our road or the connecting road. Here’s a picture of the swing I got for Mother’s Day a few years ago. I can’t wait for summer.
Anyway, she shared that she gave up Pinterest and reading fashion blogs during Lent a few years ago and she found it valuable. She said that even now, two years later, she has not gone back to spending as much time as she used to reading those blogs or pinning things.
That has been my experience as well and not just for Lent. Losing weight involves giving things up. We might not like to think of weight loss in a “negative” way, but it’s true. We do have to give things up in order to change our life. I gave up huge portions, plus-sized clothing, unhealthy restaurant meals, low self-esteem, and feeling out of control with my weight. Those were all positive things to give up.
I’ve thought about what I want to work on for the next 40 days and here are my two. I wanted one that was relationship oriented and one that was health oriented.
First, I am going to be more intentional with my time. I can spend a lot of time surfing the Internet, chatting on the phone, or just getting nothing done. I’m going to work on scheduling blocks of time for specific tasks and using my newly created free time to spend more quality time with the people I love.
Second, I am going to not eat any chips, pretzels, or processed crackers for the next 40 days. Granted I don’t eat any of those foods very often, but every time I do have them, I know they aren’t doing anything for me nutritionally.
Giving things up for a reason can be a very positive experience and one that you can take forward past the Lenten season.
How do you feel about giving things up for a period of time? Do you find it helpful or frustrating? Diane