Why Lent should be a time for trying new things instead of giving them up

Instead of giving up chocolate or booze, Lent can be a time to think about what we can make space for in our life

Why should you try something new for Lent instead of giving something up? The phrase “give up” has loads of negative connotations. After a quick search online, “capitulation”, “surrender”, and “calling it a day” were just a few synonyms I found. After searching “motivational speeches” on YouTube I can almost guarantee each video will include the phrase “Never give up!”. So why should we feel pressured to “give up” something for Lent?  

Instead of removing something from your lifestyle, you can add something

For most people, losing something that is part of a healthy routine can lead to anxiety and withdrawal symptoms. Although I won’t deny the benefits of putting down the vapes and quitting booze for the time being, quitting things like chocolate or coffee won’t necessarily be the most productive use of your time. Instead of removing something from your healthy, balanced lifestyle, instead look to add something. Instead of removing chocolate, try to go to the gym more regularly. Instead of removing coffee, try to go to bed an hour earlier every night. Lent should be a time to positively change your routine, instead of removing something from it.

Adding one thing a day can have big results     

Within the fitness lifestyle community, there is a huge trend that many people are undertaking called the “75 hard”. This challenge, which many participants track on TikTok, involves a 75 day period of challenging activities, including early mornings, cold showers, workouts, and reducing screen time to name a few. The challenge is designed to test your discipline and ultimately positively impact your mental health. Lent, in my eyes, provides a perfect opportunity for people to follow a similar routine. Obviously, the “75 hard” is an unrealistic example for most people, but adding one thing to your day can have hugely positive results.  

So, what can you try instead of give up? Well, Lent is well and truly underway, so if you want to follow the proper guidelines you might have to wait till next year, but if you just need something to make the daily stress of uni a little more manageable here are a few things I’d recommend. 


As you might be able to tell, I am a massive fitness advocate. I believe exercise to be the most beneficial way to improve mental well-being and reduce everyday feelings of stress and anxiety. Sometimes, the idea of going to the gym after a long day in the library seems overwhelming, so instead try going for a short run with a housemate. Little things make a huge difference.   


How often do you skip a meal or binge on snacks? Spending an evening cooking a large chilli or bolognaise means you’ll have lunch sorted for the rest of the week.  


Order a book from Amazon in something you’re interested in outside of your course. Reading a few pages before you start your revision for the day puts your mind in a productive and calm mood.  

Ice Bath / Shower 

This idea is not for the faint hearted but the benefits are amazing. Over the Lent period, my housemates and I decided to buy an Ice Bath. We now have a 400-litre capacity plastic tank in our garden which we’ll try to get in most mornings for two to five minutes. Ice baths are easily the best way to relieve anxiety and improve mood. Cold showers are a great way to start if this is something you’d want to try.  

Giving something up for Lent is an outdated premise. Lent should be a time for trying new things which benefit your life and fit into your routine. You don’t need to prove anything to yourself by letting something go. University is already stressful enough. So don’t say goodbye to the Creme Egg (or five) you use to treat yourself after a long day in the library. Keep your lifestyle the way it is and think about ways to actively improve it. Choose something that you know will make you feel better, but please put down the vape, for everyone’s sake.  

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