Self-denial good for the soul and the body

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - As Mardi Gras beads give way to ashen crosses, so a time of celebration turns to a time of sacrifice, as many Christians observe lent.

"Christ took 40 days in the desert before he began his public ministry. A time of prayer, of fasting, of sacrifice, but also of mental preparation, focusing on his priorities of what he wanted to do," explained Msgr. Paul Counce, Judicial Vicor Diocese of Baton Rouge.

It is in that spirit that many observe lent, making some sort of personal sacrifice for 40 days.

"We understand that by depriving ourselves of this world's goods. We first of all recognize our fallibility, our weakness," said Counce.

However, the benefits of a little self denial are not limited to just Christianity or even to the religious.

"In everyday life, we sometimes fall prey to the rat race. By taking a moment to step back and to self monitor, it sort of reboots if you will," said psychologist Dr. Jesse Lambert.

Lambert says many studies have shown the benefits of a personal "fasting" period.

"It enhances self control," said Lambert. "Enhancing discipline, and in many respects restoring focus."

For example, say a family is having trouble connecting because everyone stays plugged in on the computer or the phone.

"It terms of social media, like cell phone things like that, it typically involves a solitary activity or where one member of family is communicating with someone outside of the family. By stepping away from that for a moment, it gives the family an opportunity to rediscover themselves."

Through a little self denial a family can improve its relationships, or a individual can create better habits.

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