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  • Writer's pictureMinahil

Ramadan Kareem: Balancing Spiritual Obligations and Self-Care


What is Ramadan?

Ramadan is the 9th month of the Islamic Calendar, based on a 12-month Lunar Year of approximately 354 days. It is considered one of the holiest months in the calendar when Muslim celebrate and commemorate the revelation of the Quran and fast from food and drink from sunrise (true dawn) to sunset during which they draw closer to God, cultivate self-control, gratitude, compassion and spiritual rejuvenation.


Fasting During Ramadan

Based on research, fasting, also more commonly known as intermittent fasting, can have many benefits for the mind and body including regulating blood sugar levels, controlling cholesterol, increasing endurance, overall metabolism and also enhancing working and verbal memory. During the month of Ramadan, the fasting periods provide a similar 16:8 ratio for intermittent fasting and hence the same benefits however, there is no intake of drink during the fasting states which can be exhausting for the body if not taken care of properly. So how can we prepare and care for our mind and body during the month of Ramadan while still performing all of our everyday tasks?


Tips for Ramadan

Talk to your provider

Due to fasting throughout the day you may be unable to take your vitamins, supplements and/or prescription medication as per usual. It is always a good idea to get in touch with your doctor to let them know of the changes and how your medications can be adjusted accordingly. Additionally, it is important to realize that if you have a chronic illness, are pregnant, nursing or on your period, you are exempted from fasting. You may be able to make-up for your fasts at a later time if your health permits or compensate by providing meals for those in need.


Take care of your body!

It is easy to eat sugary snacks and heavy foods however that can slow you down, give you

energy crashes and impact your metabolism. It is better to have more easily digestible, high

fiber foods that are also slow energy-releasing e.g. fresh juices, lean proteins, whole grain breads and lots of water (at least 8 glasses!). Taking care of your body also refers to exercising.Although it is easy to feel demotivated and too tired to engage in physical exercise, it can be helpful to engage in even a 30 minute walk as it promotes muscle health and prevents soreness and dehydration.


Look after your Sleep

There can often be a short time-frame at night after Iftar during which you need to eat and pray and that can often feel overwhelming as your sleep routine becomes impacted. This is

especially the case if you are unable to adjust your routine to have more flexible times to relax and energize during the day either because of work or school. Where possible, it’s often helpful to schedule naps during the day and take more regular breaks to be mindful of your energy levels. Shifting your bed-time early and napping after work or before Iftar can be good sources of building your energy reserves.


Community

Coming together and being part of a community is a big part of Ramadan; especially

congregating at the Mosque to pray, learn, have iftar together and share experiences with one another. Close relationships can have a significant impact on your well-being and so it can be a good time to seek support and connect with those you are close to including friends and family.


Engaging in Positive Activities

Ramadan is a month of giving, showing kindness and supporting others. Often random acts of kindness and other volunteer work (community service perhaps!) can help you collect positive experiences that can boost your wellbeing in several ways. Some of these activities can include, but are not limited to volunteering in the local community, helping out others (family friends, neighbors, colleagues), giving to charity, donating clothes and food items and being in service to others within reasonable means and capability.


Journaling your Reflections and Feelings


Ramadan is a month of a lot of spiritual reflection and growth that can be a combination of

several thoughts and feelings that can come up through prayer, contemplation, and everyday life experiences. It can hence be helpful to journal such thoughts and feelings so you are not only able to note down some prominent feelings but also reflect on what contributed to them and how similar experiences can be made better and how experiences of each day fasting can be enhanced as well.


Staying Organized and Setting Realistic Goals

Ramadan can often disrupt our everyday routine and we may find ourselves trying extra hard to stay organized and making sure our goals are being met. It can be helpful to utilize planners (Ramadan Planners on Amazon) to organize your Suhoor and Iftar routine, stay accountable for your responsibilities and to-do lists while also setting goals for the day of or the week ahead! This can help you stay focused and motivated as well. Moreover, it is important to remind yourself that Ramadan looks different for everyone and it can be unhelpful and unhealthy to compare your goals and achievements with that of others. There is no competition with others! It’s thus better to make goals that are specific, achievable and realistic so you are not burdening yourself but enjoying going through your goal list and reinforcing your own motivation with every goal you achieve!


Being Open to Learning and Sharing

There are many different ways of learning during Ramadan and so while some may do so by

reciting the Quran everyday, others might gain knowledge by listening to informational and

inspirational podcasts (Check out Muslim Pro for multimedia options!). Sharing what you learn is also a form of Sunnah so learn and gain knowledge and information the way you would prefer and share with others where you feel it would be helpful.


Ramadan is just a month that helps you detoxify in many ways; physically, emotionally and

spiritually and while challenging in its own way can also feel very rejuvenated.

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