Words by Chelsea Forsyth

What are you giving up for Lent? (And don’t say ‘nothing’). Now’s a great time to put your willpower to the test; have you got what it takes to deal with 40 days of abstinence?

Whatever you pick, it’s not going to be easy – our brains have a habit of fixating on the one thing we’re denying ourselves and demanding MORE MORE MORE of it. But give it a crack and follow our five tips on giving something up and actually sticking to it.

<h2>1. Fill your time with something else</h2>
If you’re giving up smoking or drinking alcohol, specific times will feel more difficult than others. If you used to smoke religiously every lunch time, or go out for drinks every Friday, it can feel particularly daunting, but it’s just a case of finding a new way to spend that time.

<img width="45%" align="right" src="https://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/w/images/0/0e/Running_dawg.gif" alt="running dogs" style="margin-right: 0px; margin-left: 20px; margin-top: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px;">

Instead of following old routines, start a new one. Rather than traipsing to the smoking area on your lunch break, head to the gym or go for a run. Working out clears your head while also releasing endorphins, so it’s a great way to stay focused and keep the kind of can-do attitude that’s going to get you through this.

Once you’ve started this new habit, you can condition yourself to work out (or whatever else you prefer) every time craving strikes. It’s estimated that it takes 21 consecutive days to form a new habit, so keep going by focusing on the health benefits you’ll be experiencing after three weeks.

<h2>2. Reward yourself</h2>
Breaking any habit is hard, so it’s understandable to feel like giving in on a bad day. By rewarding yourself every time you hit a goal or milestone, you’re reinforcing positive beliefs in your mind that you’re doing something good, and will be much more inclined to stick to it long-term.

<img width="50%" align="left" src="https://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/w/images/d/d7/Reward.gif" alt="treat yo self" style="margin-right: 20px; margin-left: 0px; margin-top: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px;">

Most people reward themselves with a chocolatey treat or unhealthy food – not great if that’s the vice you’re giving up! So maybe it’s time to get a little more creative.

The money you’re saving by not indulging in your habit could be used to buy something you’ve wanted for a while, or maybe saved towards something bigger like a holiday, a day out somewhere or a new experience.

If your schedule is consistently hectic, perhaps you could reward yourself with a little ‘you-time’. Take a few hours to do anything you want, whether it’s watching Netflix, reading a book or relaxing in the bath. Don’t feel guilty about doing nothing – you’ve earnt it!

<h2>3. Change your way of thinking</h2>
Giving something up can feel like a compromise on your happiness; like you’re restricting yourself from something you really enjoy.
<img width="45%" align="right" src="https://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/w/images/6/6b/Positive.gif" alt="tap head meme" style="margin-right: 0px; margin-left: 20px; margin-top: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px;">

While this can be true, remember the reasons that you’re doing it – whether it’s benefiting your health, bank balance or even just making you feel better about yourself, focus on the positives rather than the habit you’re trying to refrain from.

Typically, the more you deny yourself something, the more you want it, so quit telling yourself you ‘can’t have something’. Instead, simply tell yourself you don’t want it – your subconscious mind has a hard time understanding negation, so put a positive spin on things!

<h2>4. Surround yourself with supporters</h2>
One of the best ways to stay on track is to surround yourself with a bunch of supporters who encourage your positive changes.

<img width="40%" align="left" src="https://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/w/images/9/9d/Applause.gif" alt="star trek applause" style="margin-right: 20px; margin-left: 0px; margin-top: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px;">

If your best friends are trying to quit a habit too – or maybe start a new one – you can help track their progress and celebrate their achievements with them, whilst they do the same for you. This way, if someone has a tough day and feels like giving in, there’s someone there to keep cheering them on.

If you don’t feel like sharing your progress with anyone else, keep yourself motivated by sticking post-it notes in places you’ll forget about – having an inspirational quote or photo pop up when you least expect it could be the thing to keep you on track.

<h2>5. Track your progress</h2>
As with anything that takes a bit of time, sometimes you can hit that metaphorical wall.

<img width="35%" align="right" src="https://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/w/images/4/49/Blogging.gif" alt="blogging cat" style="margin-right: 0px; margin-left: 20px; margin-top: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px;">

Usually after a week or two has passed, the initial good feelings have worn off and your cravings are in full swing, so it seems easier than ever to just call it a day and revert to the comfort of old habits.

Starting a blog or diary – complete with progress photos or the positive changes you’ve noticed along the way – can help to eliminate this temptation. If you have a log of your journey that you can look back at when you’re feeling unsteady, it’s much less likely that you’ll want to throw in the towel and erase all your hard work.

Set up a blog on TSR so you can share your progress with other members who are also giving something up for Lent. Obviously, it’s going to suck if you end up caving in to your vice – but even more so if your followers are tracking your progress too…

Here’s what other members are planning to give up:

“Kinda wanna try giving up oreos because, no joke, I am addicted to them. This will be a challenge.” – 1secondsofvamps
“Procrastination. And biscuits.” – bizzy_penguin
“I gave up chocolate last year and felt so much better for it! Maybe I won’t cut out something, but try eating 5 fruit and veg a day, or only eating healthy snacks?” – Josie_1

Are you giving up anything for Lent? Let us know in the comments below.

<table class="tborder" width="95%"><tr><td><B>Related discussions:</B>
<br><a href="https://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/showthread.php?t=4571650#primary_content" target="_blank">What are you giving up for lent?</a>
<br><a href="https://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/forumdisplay.php?f=1297" target="_blank">Get involved in our blogging forum</a>
<br><a href="https://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/showthread.php?t=4571652#primary_content" target="_blank">Do you have to be religious to take part in Lent?</a></td></tr></table>