So after the excesses of January, many people are involved in FebFast – they give up something special (sugar, alcohol) for the month of February to cleanse and also raise money for special causes.

And we’ve also just started the Christian season of Lent, so lots of Catholics are, for religious or cultural reasons, abstaining from something special for the next six weeks.

I’ve given up sugar. And man, I miss it.

Like, I miss it with a tickle in my skull that can only be assuaged by a Mars Bar after dinner. I miss it when my husband brings home Greek biscuits lovingly made by a colleague. I miss it on a Friday night while watching a movie. Or every morning at around 10am when I have a cuppa.

So I thought I’d write about the benefits of giving something up for a while. To make me feel better.

  • It makes you creative. Last year, I attempted not to buy new clothes. I didn’t always succeed but I did okay, and one thing I noticed was that I looked at my existing wardrobe with different eyes. Instead of thinking “I’ve got nothing to wear”, I had to think “How can I zhuzh up this outfit?” And mostly I was quite happy.
  • It gets you out of your comfort zone. I have to snack on fruit and vegetables. And I’m finding a new appreciation for the sweetness of apples, the crunch of carrots. Or that’s what I’m telling myself, anyway.
  • It frees up your time. If you’ve given up social media or TV, you’ll suddenly find you have lots of free time. Enjoy spending it! Read a book or indulge in a creative hobby you’ve always wanted to try, like sewing or drawing.
  • Your skin will be clearer if you give up alcohol or sugar.
  • And finally … A little bit of self-denial might make you happier. A study from 2013 found that if you give chocolate up for a week, you’ll enjoy a piece much more afterwards. Sounds obvious and now it has been confirmed scientifically. So good luck – and enjoy your glass of wine on 1 March or your Easter Eggs on Easter Sunday!