Today marks the start of Lent, the 40-day countdown to Easter – one of the most important holidays in the Christian calendar – and a period of fasting begins.

While many of us are still digesting yesterday’s pancakes, we’re also deciding on what to give up for the next 40 days… Will it be chocolate, like many people do each year before the onslaught of Eater eggs hit us in mid-April? Or perhaps something else? Alcohol, sweets, carbs… the list is endless.

We’re proposing that this year you give up being hard on yourself. We live in a world where societal pressures are all around us – from exam pressures, and school-related stresses; to the ever-growing pressure to ‘live your best life’ on social media.

The problem with having a lot of pressure in our lives, means that we can start to pile the pressure on ourselves, because society has made us feel ‘inadequate’ or ‘not good enough’.

Let’s give up putting pressure on ourselves for things that we cannot change.

With added pressure comes added stress, and added stress can contribute to mental ill health. And if we’re not feeling mentally healthy, then we find it a lot harder to perform our day to day tasks, then we begin to compare ourselves to others around us who we see as ‘having everything together’, then the cycle of putting pressure on ourselves begins again…

For the following 40 days, let’s give up being hard on ourselves. Give up putting undue pressure on ourselves. And if things get too much – let’s give up hiding our feelings away; talk to somebody you trust about how you’re feeling and you might just find that you’re not alone in your thoughts.

Don’t give up.

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