Ramadan 2023 falls between Wednesday 22nd March – Friday 21st April.
So, whether you’re a nurse or carer observing this holy month, or just want to know how best to support your colleagues, we’re here to help.
During this period of prayer, discipline and self-reflection, we want to help you to best look after yourself, or others, during Ramadan as a busy working professional.
With this in mind, we’ve put together a concise guide, along with self-care and supportive tips, to aid you through the 30-day period of fasting from dawn till dusk.
These will not only help you to look after your own health, but can also have a positive impact on those you’re looking after.
6 self-care tips for working through Ramadan
1. Stay hydrated
Being hydrated is not only vital for body function but it also impacts on sleep quality, cognition, and mood. Prepare for your fasting day ahead by drinking enough water throughout the night – the NHS recommends at least six to eight glasses. Also remember that you need to drink more water when you have caffeine or sugary drinks; the latter is usually the case with many typical Ramadan drinks.
2. Eat well
When Iftar begins (breaking the fast once the sun has set), eat plenty of fluid-rich foods and those that contain natural sugars for energy, such as dates. Other dried fruits including apricots, figs, raisins or prunes are also rich in nutrients, while soups packed with pulses are another traditional way to break the fast. Slow-release fare such as nuts, oats, chickpeas, as along with starchy foods, wholegrains, vegetables, dairy, and protein-rich foodstuffs like meat, fish, eggs and beans, all help to provide balance in your diet during Ramadan. Focus on filling meals and minimise snacking to prepare your body for the next day.
3. Get enough sleep
During the Holy Month, Ramadan changes your body clock and normal sleep routines can be disrupted by social gatherings and activities, which can often run late into the night, altering your resting patterns. Try to get some shut-eye when you can, and bear in mind that longer blocks of sleep are more beneficial than multiple short naps. Aim to sleep for chunks of hours at a time; for example, for a minimum of four hours at night after Iftar, before waking for Suhoor and Fajr, then going back to sleep for a couple of hours before getting up for the working day ahead.
Fasting isn’t the time to set new personal records or push yourself to the limit. Instead continue with your current physical activity levels and always listen to your body and modify your movements accordingly. Exercise does have many benefits though – even a 15-minute walk during your lunch break will make a difference.
5. Listen to your body
Fasting can bring about changes to energy levels and for some that might mean needing to take more moments of rest, so take a break when you can. Put a few moments aside in your day to check in on what you need and where you can shift your focus and reflect on your day.
6. Share your experience
Let your employer know that you’ll be fasting so they can assist you and help to make alternative arrangements during your shifts if necessary. Also, if you feel overwhelmed at any point, tell a colleague who you feel comfortable with and ask them for their support.
4 ways to support your colleagues observing Ramadan
If you’re not observing Ramadan, here’s how you can help when working with your colleagues who are…
1. Find out more
Read up on what Ramadan is and why fasting happens - and do ask colleagues reasonable questions if you’re curious to know more.
2. Be respectful
Be mindful about eating and drinking around colleagues who are fasting. For example, don’t continuously ask if a coworker who is observing Ramadan would like a tea or coffee, as they cannot even have fluids whilst fasting.
3. Be flexible
Sleep and prayer schedules vary during Ramadan - if you’re in charge of setting work hours, try to meet observers’ needs where possible, for example, scheduling earlier start times, a shorter lunch break or extra breaks for prayer.
Wishing your colleagues a “Happy Ramadan” or saying “Ramadan Kareem”, which means "have a generous Ramadan”, will be appreciated.
Exemptions from fasting according to the NHS Muslim Network
Some colleagues may not be fasting for part or the entire month of Ramadan. Muslims can be exempt from fasting for the following reasons:
- Having an illness (physical or mental), taking medication or being very frail
- Menstruating or experiencing lochia discharge as a woman
- Being a pregnant or lactating woman who has credible health concerns for oneself or child
- Being a frontline healthcare staff (required to provide care to COVID-19 patients) at real risk of dehydration due to wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) and long shifts
It is important to be sensitive to those who may not be fasting, especially those who may feel a sense of disappointment for not being able to do so. Nevertheless, those exempted from fasting are still able to observe Ramadan and reap the spiritual benefits during this time in other ways.
Useful links for healthcare workers
As the holy month of Ramadan fast approaches, the Co-Chairs of the NHS Muslim Network have released their Ramadan and Eid Guidance 2023. They are also holding two workshops entitled Supporting Muslim Staff and Colleagues in Ramadan on Tuesday 21st March and Tuesday 28th March; book via the above link.
For further reading, the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) has released its 2023 Ramadan Guide.
Wishing you a happy Ramadan from Florence. Our app helps you find flexible shifts, take essential training courses and improve your work-life balance. Find out more and sign up today.
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