I see so much hubbub around Shrove Tuesday, better known as Pancake Day, but very little around Lent. Maybe because it is fundamentally a religious period, or maybe because we’re all way too excited about eating Nutella for dinner, I don’t know. Whether you’re religious or not, Lent can be a really positive way to begin Spring, but sometimes it can be really hard knowing what to give up. The point is that whatever you choose, it’s a sacrifice, and that in itself can be incredibly difficult to pin point and then sustain for 40 days and usually involves the loss of something that actually does bring joy to your life.
Most people end up denying themselves some kind of food, but in all honesty I don’t think I’m really improving anybodies life if I cut out one of my favourites; a Beth without chocolate, cheese, coffee and wine is not a happy one. Instead, this Lent I am focussing on taking up something new focussed around the idea of self-care because we definitely all need more of that in our lives. It takes 21 days to form a habit and so across the 40 day period you could feasibly find small ways to improve your health and happiness for the better. My big focus is on getting into a decent sleep routine as I know it makes a massive difference to all areas of my life, from diet to productivity, so I am going to try really hard to put my phone away an hour before bed and enjoy some quiet time with a candle and a good book instead.
Below are some self-care ideas that you can take up this Lent;
1. Keep a gratitude journal. There are apps that can help you with this, or you can just use a notebook, the idea is that you make a quick note of what you are grateful for each day and in doing so you get to enjoy a moment of reflection and remember to focus upon the little things.
2. Be selfish. Do one thing today just because it makes you happy.
3. Compliment a stranger. Obviously you have to actually mean it, but this one is a double winner because you’ve probably just made someone else’s day too.
4. Edit your social media feeds and cut out negativity. We’ve all got those people on our timelines and if hitting ‘delete’ feels a little too final, then you can always ‘mute’ them instead…
5. Moisturise your whole body. I don’t think many of us can put our hands up and admit to already doing this one (if you do, I am in awe) but not only is it great for your skin, it’s also a little way to be kind to yourself and connect with your body each morning or evening.
6. Wear something that makes you feel fabulous. Every day. I mean it! It may seem shallow but I find that if I’m confident in how I look then I instantly feel much more ready to take on whatever the day throws at me.
7. De-clutter. Following on from the above, get rid of one item each day that either you don’t use, or doesn’t make you feel good (did I just turn into Marie Kondo?!) and then donate a box to charity at the end of Lent.
8. Set your alarm a little earlier than normal. Use the time to have a cup of tea and read in bed or chat to your loved one about your plans for the day; leave feeling calm rather than rushed.
9. Say no. Of course this has got to be exercised within reason, but don’t be pressured into doing things you don’t want to do.
10. Stretch. You don’t have go full on downward-dog, but just give your body a good streeeeeeeetch once or twice a day.
11. Listen to music. Put the radio on whilst you’re getting ready in the morning or make yourself a good ‘get up and go’ playlist. Similarly, create a winding down one to chill you out in the evening.
12. Talk to a real life actual person. It can be pretty easy to spend an entire day in front of a screen and not actually converse with someone verbally aside from perhaps placing a Starbucks order or checking in with a colleauge; call your Mum or your friend, even just for a quick 10 minute catch up.
13. Exercise. I’m not going to get all preachy, but just for even twenty minutes do something physical, whether you smash a full on gym session, go for a walk or do a bit of booty shaking to Beyonce in your room.
14. Enjoy a hot drink. Put your phone away and just take five minutes to sip your tea and be calm.
15. Do something that has been bugging you. Button loose, lightbulb blown, drawer stiff? Get it sorted and feel like you’ve really accomplished something!
16. Create a bed time routine. There isn’t a one size fits all so work out what calms you down and sets you up for a restful nights sleep.
17. Create a morning routine.
18. Have breakfast. How many of us skip it? I’m definitely guilty of running out the door and then grabbing something when I’m feeling cranky by midmorning.
19. Try a new food. This might be a difficult one to do every day, but if there’s something you know you don’t like but want to (for me, it’s fish), then have a little each day and introduce your taste buds to something new, chances are you’ll soon love it!
20. Celebrate the small things.