So now all the pancakes are eaten – what about lent?

It starts today (Ash Wednesday) and runs for 6 weeks and of course it’s known as a time to ‘fast’ or ‘give something up’

Whether you have a Christian faith or not lent can be a good time to choose to give something up, of course chocolate is the big one, along with takeaways, coffee, cigarettes, and obviously alcohol (more on that to come!)

Some people get creative and take time off social media, or give up buying anything new (other than food) and others choose to focus on decluttering their home or even stopping swearing …

(for six weeks? You have to be f***ing kidding me!)

There’s no doubt Lent can be a time of reflection, we can set aside the six weeks to focus on behaviour change, or focus on what we really want to add into our life, or to see how it feels to be ‘without’ something we have become accustomed to.

A long time ago I decided to use lent to focus on forgiveness, there was someone in my life who was causing me huge angst and distress and I was consumed with anger and irritation.  I decided to focus on them every day during lent and send them love,  I said prayers, wrote letters (that I didn’t post of course) and tried to breathe deeply as I let go of the ever brewing hatred.  Trust me it was tough for the first couple of weeks!  It got easier though and of course what actually happened was that I was ‘released’ and felt so much better without carrying resentment.  Interestingly the ‘energy’ changed too, and without any words being spoken whatsoever the level of harassment reduced. I will never know if my ‘letting go’ and forgiveness strategy had any effect on the person giving me hassle, but it certainly helped me.

I’ve read of people who choose to use lent as a time for kindness, Check out the Christian US initiative The Lenten Positive Acts challenge where they recommend people do something positive or kind every day. Quite cool right?

Now. To the alcohol!  As you will be well aware, I don’t use the phrase ‘giving up’ when it comes to the booze. Why? Because you are only gaining! 

I hate the idea of someone gritting their teeth and trying to use willpower to ‘not drink’ and counting the days till lent ends so that they can get back to the ‘wonderful booze’. The Emperor isn’t actually wearing any clothes! Its just an illusion, alcohol provide zero benefits and how I wish someone has clued me as to just how amazing life without the booze is!

If a nagging voice is telling you that your life could be better without the booze, then of course use any timeframe you like to set yourself,  ‘forever’ can feel too long at first, so choosing to be alcohol free for the six weeks of Lent is as good a start as any. But ‘reframe’ the ‘sacrifice’ part, because it is no sacrifice whatsoever. Just as acts of kindness are good for you, so is ditching the booze.  In fact it’s the best decision you will EVER make for your own health and wellbeing.

So yes – ditch the booze for lent, do your prep, choose great alcohol free drinks and focus on adding in self-care, acts of kindness to yourself are often so much harder to do that for someone else. 

If you’re new to the whole ‘kindness’ mallarkey, check out my Alcohol Free Life podcast episode with fellow Hay House author David Hamilton and check out the new book Happy Healthy Sober for some more inspiration on being kind to yourself and others.

david hamilton with quote

Should you ‘give anything up’?  Yes.  Give up on the idea that booze equals fun, that drinking alcohol makes you more confident, witty, sexy, or even relaxed and chilled.  Give up the procrastination and lack of self-esteem that has kept you in the alcohol trap.   Allow the six weeks of Lent to kick-start your journey to optimum health and wellbeing – underpinned by sobriety.

Happy Lent…and beyond!

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