Instead of restricting yourself over Lent, why not take up some new habits that could improve your life?
Scientifically, humans love new starts, so why not give yourself another chance two months after all those initial ‘new year, new me’ promises to give something new a go?
You can still do something challenging, but supposedly it takes just 21 days to pick up a new habit, so doing it over 40 will be a total breeze.
Here are some things to start doing on the 1st of March.
1. Actually start using your Nutribullet
Or whatever else you bought on an earlier “I’m definitely going to get healthy now yep this is the year” Amazon haul.
It’s time to unroll that yoga mat, actually use those dumbbells or get your money’s worth of an ambitiously purchased gym membership.
You don’t have to buy something new – that kind of defeats the point. Just give yourself another chance to start using what you already have.
2. Start a bullet journal
While we’re on the theme of bullets, you’ve been meaning to get organised, right?
If you haven’t seen them already, bullet journals are the hot new thing when it comes to to-do lists, if such a category exists. Which it does.
It’s essentially just a diary system with lists that allows you to put tasks forward if you don’t complete them and keep track of long term goals.
But more importantly, they’re perfect Instagram fodder.
You can learn about bullet journaling from its founder here.
3. Embrace being phoneless
Okay, this one is kind of cheating, but how about making a habit… of using your phone less?
You’re guaranteed to become better company, it might help your sleep and most importantly you’ll stop running out of battery at 2pm.
Try an app like Forest. It’s a bit silly, but a tree ‘grows’ if you leave your phone alone. If you don’t, your cyber-tree dies. And no one wants to be a tree killer.
Start small by turning off your phone an hour before bed and use your radio or an actual clock (gasp!) as your alarm clock instead.
4. Take up volunteering
Why not stop thinking about yourself, and start helping good causes in your area?
Charity shops are usually looking for people, after-school clubs might need help, and there are a wealth of soup kitchens, food banks and other groups that are probably looking for helpers with your skills.
Commit to a couple of hours a week for the five and a half weeks and see how it goes – you might find you want to continue beyond Lent.
Plus, this is totally noble and gets back to the basics of Lent, which encourages some kind of personal sacrifice after all.
Look for opportunities in your area here.
5. Start taking a vitamin D supplement
According to the latest guidelines from the NHS, most of us should consider taking a vitamin D supplement every day because it’s difficult to get enough from food or sunlight.
Especially during the autumn and winter months (which counts until the end of March) the sun isn’t enough to give us the vitamin D that helps protect our muscoskeletal health.
People with darker skins tones, those who cover up when they go outside or who spend a lot of time indoors should take the supplements all year.
6. Start investing
And no, you won’t need to start watching watching the FTSE.
Start using an app like Moneybox for the 40 days, which puts the change from your purchases rounded up to the nearest pound into a stocks and shares ISA.
By Easter you might be a slightly more sensible saver, without having noticed, and you’ll be able to spend your savings on one of those big fancy Easter eggs.
7. Start drinking enough water
The NHS says you should be getting 6 to 8 glasses of liquid a day, but you can help your wallet and your teeth by making more of those water.
Apps like Waterlogged can help you set yourself a target for water consumption, send you reminders to drink, and record your progress.
As a rule you should be drinking enough so you don’t feel thirsty, so one cup during and between each meal should be enough.