Lent is a time for spiritual renewal. The journey can be a time to pause, reflect and recalibrate your life in ways that last beyond the 40 days of the season.
Lent invites us to reflect on our habits and lifestyles, to discern what tangible changes we may want to make to foster a healthier, more vibrant life. This season, consider how you might use the principles of spiritual discipline as a catalyst for sustainable health gains. By committing to a Lenten practice, we open ourselves up to profound transformation.
Begin by centering your Lenten journey in prayer, seeking guidance and strength from God. Use this time to reflect on your health goals and the changes you wish to make. Whether it’s finding motivation to exercise regularly, making healthier food choices or prioritizing self-care, invite God into your journey and ask for the grace to persevere.
While traditionally associated with abstaining from certain foods, fasting during Lent can also help you break unhealthy habits and adopt new ones. Consider fasting from negative self-talk, procrastination or excessive screen time, and instead, focus on nourishing your body with wholesome foods, engaging in physical activity and practicing mindfulness.
Contemplate acts of charity and service, considering how you can extend compassion not only to others but also to yourself. Self care is an essential component of overall well-being, and Lent offers an opportunity to prioritize your health needs without guilt or shame.
Whether it’s carving out time for restorative sleep, practicing stress-reducing techniques like meditation or yoga, or seeking support from healthcare professionals, investing in your health is an act of love for yourself.
Practical Tips to Make Your Health Gains Last
Beyond Easter, strive to integrate the lessons learned during Lent into your daily life, creating habits that promote long-term health and well-being.
- Set realistic goals: Instead of overwhelming yourself with drastic changes, start small and gradually build upon your successes. Focus on one or two achievable goals at a time, whether it’s adding an extra serving of vegetables to your meals or taking a 10-minute walk each day.
- Find your why: Connect with your deeper motivations for improving your health. Whether it’s to have more energy to spend time with loved ones, to reduce your risk of chronic disease or to simply feel better in your body, anchoring your goals in meaningful purpose can help you stay committed when challenges arise.
- Cultivate a supportive environment: Surround yourself with people who uplift and encourage your health journey. Seek out community support groups or enlist the help of a workout buddy or accountability partner to stay inspired and motivated.
- Practice self-compassion: Be gentle with yourself. Recognize that setbacks are a natural part of the process and offer yourself grace and forgiveness when things don’t go as planned. Celebrate your progress, no matter how small, and remember that every step forward is a victory worth celebrating.
- Stay mindful: Cultivate awareness of your thoughts, feelings and behaviors and how they impact your health. Practice mindfulness techniques like deep breathing, journaling or gratitude exercises to stay present and attuned to your body’s needs.
Music for Your Lenten Journey
Finding moments of quiet reflection can be essential for deepening our spiritual connection during Lent.
Resources from CHA
This Lenten season, the Catholic Health Association invites us to embrace the principles of “Slow & Simple: Contemplations for the Lent and Easter Season.” In a world filled with constant noise and distractions, this 14-week series offers a profound opportunity to slow down, simplify our lives and focus on what truly matters.
Additional Resources for Lent
Lent and Easter Wisdom from Fulton J. Sheen, with additional content from Judith A. Bauer, provides a brief history of Lent along with prayers and reflections for the journey.
Christianity Today offers five family-friendly resources for Lent – to help parents teach children about lament, fasting and mortality, and the National Catholic Educational Association provides research-based strategies, publications and other tools to provide insight and best practices for journeying through Lent as a family.
In a recent ParentingU ExtraCredit podcast, Rob Tasman, VP, Regional Mission Integration & Formation for our health system, shared practical ways to journey through Lent intentionally with children.
As we journey through Lent together, may we embrace this season as an opportunity for holistic renewal — body, mind and spirit. May the changes we make during this time lead to lasting health and well-being, enriching our lives and the lives of those around us.