40 Ways To Survive The 40 Guilt-Ridden Days Of Lent

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Right you miserable little readers. I bet you thought you were off the hook, now that Dry January is over? But no, your suffering will not cease. Now is the time of bare fridges, the snackless winter of our discontent. I hope you gorged on pancakes yesterday and Instagrammed every lemon and sugar-covered morsel, for Lent has arrived.

Because I want you to do well this year (reader, I care about your welfare) I have put together forty helpful pointers for how to stay strong for the next forty days. Read on, be brave, and prepare just say no to Dairy Milks.

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  1. Hopefully you began by eating so many pancakes that you got the batter sweats (not a scientific thing, but you never know…). This is insurance: indulge before and you won't be tempted later.
  2. Surround yourself with motivational wisdom. Post motivational quotes to Twitter and Instagram. Remain strong when your friends consequently shun you and label you a basic bitch.
  3. Give up alcohol. Break it. Drunk-tweet about your guilt.
  4. Consider giving up Twitter. Conduct a straw poll among your followers asking if you should. When no one replies, decide to go the opposite way and Tweet more.
  5. Ignore the ads for chocolate bars and Magnum ice-creams which crop up with a vengeance around this time of year.
  6. Harbour strange, conflicted feelings about the Cadbury chocolate bunny. Begin to wonder if you are a furry fetishist, or just intensely craving chocolate.
  7. Look up furry fetishists. Decide that you are not one.
  8. Give up tweeting about religion.
  9. Give up tweeting about Atheism.
  10. Give up trolling Richard Dawkins.
  11. Consider being mean for Lent.
  12. Buy Netflix in order to binge-watch House of Cards. Consider this an ethical indulgence–you could be torrenting instead.
  13. Stop falling for clickbait. What will happen next will astound you.
  14. Stop reading listicles.
  15. No really. Are you still reading? Oh alright, read some of the listicles.
  16. Give up Percy Pigs (but not the Veggie Percy Pigs, which count towards your five a day).
  17. Follow #juicingforJesus on Twitter out of morbid curiosity. Decide never to drink anything made from kale again.
  18. Give kale a second chance. It's quite wonderful in salads.
  19. Settle for just giving up chocolate. Brag about it online, Instagram pictures of your healthy chocolate-free lunch.
  20. Realise that Pride is a sin, and Instagram only encourages it.
  21. Someone in the office will give you cake/crisps/tequila shots. Go ahead, it doesn't count if you didn't pay for it.
  22. Paddy's Day doesn't count.
  23. Sundays don't count either.
  24. Sometimes you just need to eat chocolate and drink gin.
  25. Decide to improve yourself rather than giving things up. Go to the gym. Develop weird, obsessive rituals.
  26. Download a deranged workout video series featuring ripped men in sleeveless t-shirts. Attempt the exercises. Tell yourself you hate it, but you love it.
  27. Quit two days later. Delete the videos, attempt to sew the sleeves back on your t-shirts.
  28. Note how your urge to take part in Lent was born out of residual Catholic guilt, even if you never go to church. Feel guilty about this, and hence a little more Catholic.
  29. Ride the guilt spiral, embrace mania. Buy a crucifix and a Child of Prague to decorate your room with fanatical kitsch. Consider going to church, but back out at the last minute. Settle for listening to Hozier.
  30. Counsel yourself that at least you are not that person you saw at the shops buying two small Easter eggs on a deal for €5 along with a bottle of wine, who almost certainly had no intention of waiting or giving them away to children as gifts, but was bringing them home to eat in front of the TV in an act of solitary Friday gluttony. At least you have no sunk that low. Yet.
  31. Feel your resolve weaken.
  32. Start to question why you're doing this. You reason that it's secular, health-related, a second chance at January. But what's the point of depriving yourself of tiny pleasures? The sugar cravings are making you grouchy, and you're having no fun on sober nights out. Do you really want a world without jelly, sweets and chips in it? Does anyone actually enjoy the fish option?
  33. Begin to alter your promises to more achievable things. Move your alarm clock forward by an hour, and consequently wake up for it. Abandon your Fitbit, your Apple Watch, your pedometer. We all know they're pointless. Go for an old-fashioned run instead.
  34. Spring clean your life a little. Don't read the news if you don't want to. Stop eating the same boring old recipes – try something new instead.
  35. Stop following people on Twitter for the sake of it. Unless it's me. You should definitely follow me.
  36. You don't have to stop watching TV, but at least make it something worth watching. For me this meant ditching the hour of Simpsons I watched every day without fail for years. Lately it's my YouTube feed, which is full of boring ten minute daily vlogs, time I waste and will never get back. So I'm making an effort to kick them.
  37. Feel less guilty. This one isn't easy – you might end up feeling guilty about guilt itself – but can truly enrich your life. Focus on the positives rather than negatives and your emotional energy will double.
  38. The internet is a hate machine. It's impossible to quit it, but I've started to scale back on keeping up with Twitter warfare and pointless think pieces.
  39. Give money to a charity you care about. Help a village fight drought. Adopt a sweater-wearing miniature penguin. Go out to Dun Laoghaire or Camden Street for the day and snap up some amazing vintage from the secondhand shops – that's giving to charity too.
  40. Realise that Lent was created to fail, that more humility is generated from this failure than from resolutions to be a better person, that this is the Old World's equivalent to calorie counting. Fail. Fail better. And if all else fails, indulge in the odd early Easter egg.
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