Salam my fellow readers. It’s been 4 months since I last got the chance to write to you and A LOT has happened since then. We have had the unfortunate outbreak of COVID-19 which has taken a toll on many of us both physically and mentally. For the majority of us, we have had a significant lifestyle change as we transition to working from home and even homeschooling for those with kids. We are also well into the blessed month of Ramdhan and are trying to make the most of it without the amazing physical support of our community that we are so accustomed to. All of these transitions can be quite overwhelming for everyone of us as we try to get through each day by accomplishing our basic tasks at hand.
As we try to juggle these competing priorities, we may find ourselves neglecting our mental and physical health during this time. However, we must understand that by neglecting things such as our nutrition, physical activity, and self-care this will eventually leave us drained and completely burned out. By taking care of ourselves through consuming healthy nutrients, participating in physical and self-care activities we are fueling ourselves so as to have the energy to be present in our day to day life. Remember that loving yourself is loving Allah (God) as you are taking care of the body that he has blessed you with(1). In Surah Al-Rahman of the Quraan we are asked numerous times “So which of the favours of your Lord would you deny?”. Yet we see that out of the many bounties of blessing that Allah has blessed us with, our heart and very selves is the one we most neglect(1).
To ensure that we are taking care of ourselves no matter how busy our days may seem we have to first and foremost make it a priority. The next step is to carve out time and pre-plan your days as much as possible. When it comes to physical activity especially during the month of the Ramdhan it is best advised to do it at the following times:
- Before Suhur
- An hour before iftar
- Right after iftar (ingesting a small snack before)
- 2 hours after the main meal at iftar
There are a multitude of benefits of staying active especially during the month of Ramdhan such as, improved sleep quality, promotion of good digestion, increases energy levels, improved mental health (due to increase in feel-good hormones) etc.(2). Now the exercise does not have to be long or aggressive, it can even be a short 30 minutes walk or a brief 20 minutes online workout video. The main thing is that you are active.
When it comes to nutrition which is the one most people struggle with particularly in the month of Ramadhan, we still have to make sure we are eating what will nourish us. There are many health benefits to be reaped from fasting such as improved blood sugars, improved cholesterol levels, weight loss and so forth, however, this is all dependent on the foods we consume (3). When we overindulge and do not practice self-discipline and self-control, we can easily find ourselves at a great disadvantage. Here are some simple tips to keep in mind during Ramadhan:
- Limit the amount of fried and sugar-rich foods you have (trying having it only on weekend or just have one samosa as opposed to 3-4)
- Stay hydrated by ensuring you are having water at the permissible times to eat
- Have plenty of fruits vegetable and complex carbs- not only does this give you the vitamins and minerals you need, but it also keeps you regular
- Avoid eating to the point you can’t breathe- eat to the point where you feel good NOT FULL!
Last but not least take care of your spiritual self. This is something that is heavily emphasized during the month of Ramdhan. We can do this by increasing our Quran recitation, dua recitation, Adhkhar and listening to the many series available to us online. Here are a few of the series currently available via YouTube:
- Angles in our Presence by Omar Suleiman-Yaqeen Institute
- Quran 30 for 30 -Yaqeen Institute
- Comfort in Times of Crisis by Mufti Menk- Eman Channel
Abû Hurayrah relates that Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said, “Whoever removes one of the hardships of a believing soul, Allah will remove from him one of the distresses on the Hereafter. Whoever solves someone else’s problem, Allah will make things easy for him in this world and the Hereafter… Allah is ever assisting His servant as long as that servant is helping his brother.” [Sahîh Muslim](1). Yet how can we take care of others if we have yet to take care of ourselves? So, no matter how busy and crazy your life may seem, be sure to make time to take care of yourself!
Written By: Raya Haddass