The pandemic has changed our lives. We are witnessing so much struggle but a rise in compassion, too. And now, many families of faith are finding new ways to celebrate, even in the throes of Covid-19. Ramadan is that month where Muslims across the globe welcome 30 days to intentionally practice patience, self-reflection, prayer and gratitude. It’s a month where differences are forgotten and people come together to acknowledge the spirit of community wellbeing so they may carry on further with a renewed mindset.
When I was growing up in the region, even non-Muslims were encouraged to appreciate the smaller yet valuable things in life during Ramadan. There are many things about this month that resonate with my own faith and many aspects that all non-Muslims would do well to incorporate into their own lives. Here are a few:
It all starts with the mindset
Adopting a more holistic, mindful approach means you are coming from a place of kindness and self-reflection. This allows us to respect other opinions and this helps us with our own growth and well-being. Studies have shown that compassion helps elevate levels of oxytocin – the love hormone – in the human brain.
Gratitude and saying thanks
Life often goes by so fast and we take for granted all the wonderful things around us, including the roof over our head, the slippers on our feet, the food in our pantry, the clothes in our closet and the family we have. There are so many that are less fortunate and are even more so now in the pandemic. This month teaches us that moving away from a “why me?” attitude toward a “count my blessings,” one-day-at-a-time outlook has the power to shift us to a more positive mindset.
A time to give back
The month of giving teaches us that giving need not necessarily pertain to monetary donations. There are so many ways we can make a significant contribution, such as volunteering our time to help and uplift the less fortunate. One might wonder if the pandemic thwarts such efforts, but we live in a region that has developed many ways to help. The latest programs, such as Volunteers.ae, are testaments to this and also display the resilience that has emerged.
A time to declutter and organize
Anyone who knows and follows Marie Kondo understands how decluttering and organizing your living space gives you a whole new perspective on how you live. Understanding why and what value we attach to certain things in our home helps us to understand our own selves more deeply and also builds mental fortitude. Conventionally, this month is a perfect time to start rethinking and reorganizing the household. As we continue to work remotely, we can reconsider our attachments to things and become more at ease with letting go.
A time to connect
Ramadan brings with it a spirit of celebration of family and communal love and the pandemic has definitely taught us to virtually connect and check in on each other. Ramadan is also a time to connect deeply with yourself, a time to either slow down and consciously self-reflect or to learn something new, like a wholesome recipe, a new language or do an online course. Whatever the path, it helps nurture the kind of self-love that eventually translates into love for those around us.
A time to pay attention to your wellness
Fasting is known to help rid your body of toxins, regulate metabolism and stabilize hormone levels. Being in tune with the way your body responds gives a new definition to intuitive eating, including intermittent fasting for those of us who want to carry it forward. Traditionally when one breaks the fast, one starts off with nature’s own candies, like dates and apricots. This is done because these densely nutritious bites of energy not only help to stabilize blood sugar levels, but are known to aid digestion. Isn’t that something we could all use, as our natural go-to livener when we experience a slump in energy or as we’re coming out of that intermittent fast? Iftars are also designed for us to start off eating smaller portions of foods which are hydrating to support gut health and replenish the body. This kind of conscious eating works well when carried into our regular routines.
Dr Remy Shanker
Remy is a medical doctor with a masters degree in dietetics and applied nutrition. Born and raised in the region, Remy has worked with various multinational wellness companies across the UAE. She is passionate about providing simple, real and holistic resources to help students champion a fulfilling healthy life at New York University Abu Dhabi, where she is a wellness program specialist. Her life’s philosophy revolves around creating positive environments, starting with herself. “While we’re all a work in progress, be the change you want to see.”