Getting through Ramadan under lockdown
Our guest blogger shares her tips for how to look after your mental health during Ramadan this year while we're under lockdown
We’ve all been dealing with huge changes to our lives because of quarantine. As with everything else, Ramadan under lockdown will probably feel totally different this year in both positive and negative ways. On the one hand we may have more time to rest and spend on spiritual growth; on the other hand we might feel isolated, exhausted and overwhelmed.
Here are my ten top tips for getting through Ramadan under lockdown.
1. Prepare your living space
Give your space a tidy and make it look as nice as you can. Make the month feel extra special with some decorations. If you have fairy lights or candles try arranging those around your room. If you don’t have any decorations, you can make some by writing your favourite quotes and sticking them up. Think about the types of positive mental health messages you need to hear this month!
2. Set realistic goals
Ramadan is a time where we push ourselves to be the best we can be. Many of us try to pray more, read the Qur’an and increase our charity and good deeds. While Ramadan may give these strange days some welcome structure and a new focus, it is important not to put too much pressure on ourselves. Think about what your personal goals are and create a realistic to-do list, including plenty of time for rest and things you enjoy as well as spiritual matters. Start with very small goals and build up slowly if you feel able to.
4. Be proud of yourself
Be proud of what you’re doing – you’re challenging yourself to be resilient, patient, kind, grateful, forgiving and empathetic to people’s suffering! That’s incredible!
Celebrate what you manage to achieve this month and don’t worry about what you don’t.
5. Talk about it
It can be awkward talking about how you feel, and even more awkward talking about your religion to people who don’t believe the same. But it’s more important than ever to talk about what’s going on with you – the good bits and the struggles too.
Reach out for support from your friends and workplace. Support could include things like changing your shifts around, or asking a mate to check in with you and help you stay motivated.
If your friends or colleagues have lots of questions and you don’t feel confident or comfortable answering these, you can always send them some articles on Ramadan to read instead.
6. Stay connected
For many of us, Ramadan is usually a hugely social and communal time. So without the usual trips to the mosque, big group dinners and evening social events where we take turns cooking for family and friends, Ramadan will be really weird. But it doesn’t mean get-togethers and group prayers can’t still happen online! Use free video calls (like Zoom, Google Hangout, Skype or FaceTime) to stay in touch with loved ones, especially at iftar times so you can celebrate getting through the day together!
Find out if your mosque or Islamic Centre is hosting any virtual events. They might also have ways you can connect with your local Muslim community and opportunities for virtual volunteering. Or, you could check in (from a safe distance) on any elderly neighbours who might need help with things like shopping, or who might just be feeling very alone right now.
In Islam, even a smile is considered charity, so if volunteering isn’t for you that’s ok, don’t be shy to get on a video-call and show those teeth to someone who needs cheering up!
7. Don't compare yourself to others
Remember, nobody is perfect. Nobody. When you’re tired and hungry it’s hard to do all the things we want to do in the way we want to do them. We slip up. We make mistakes. We get angry or impatient. That’s ok, it’s all about setting intentions and making an effort to create good habits. Having bad days while you’re fasting doesn’t make you a bad Muslim, it just makes you a human.
We are all unique, at a different stage on our spiritual journey and facing different challenges. Just focus on what is meaningful to you. How you spend your time during Ramadan is between you and God. Your best is good enough.
8. Be kind to yourself
You might be spending a lot more time in self-reflection. So use this time to realise how often you say or think negative things about yourself. Every time you have a negative thought, try to be mindful of it and replace it with a kinder thought. This is a helpful habit you can continue after Ramadan is over.
9. Look after your health
Here are some things you can do to look after yourself physically:
- Take naps! Catch up on your sleep when you can.
- Get some fresh air and sunshine. Getting outside each day if you can will help clear your head and stop you feeling trapped or overwhelmed. If you have the energy, try a gentle walk just before sunset to while away the hungriest part of the day.
- Hydrate at night. Drink plenty of water and avoid caffeine which can affect your sleep and dehydrate you.
- Don’t fast if your doctor tells you not to. If you’re worried about whether you are physically or mentally well enough to fast, always speak to your GP. Remember the Qur’an tells us we are excused from fasting when we’re sick.
Read our blogger Aaliyah's story and tips for navigating Ramadan with a mental illness.
10. You are not alone
Remember you are not alone and together we can get through this.
Where to get help
If you are struggling with your mental health, or are worried about somebody else who is, take a look at our find help page for information, tips and suggestions of where you can get help.
If you need urgent help with your mental health, you can contact our 24hr Crisis Messenger text service by texting YM to 85258.