You would think I would know better by now not to waste away valuable hours in Ramadan stagnating on a sofa, but this still happens to me year after year. My aim is always to use this holy month to grow closer to Allah, to do charitable deeds and to improve myself. I’ve realised that in order to do these things and keep going with the daily grind, self-care is paramount. It comes in so many forms, and little changes can make a huge difference to your experience of Ramadan.
I’ve been there myself many times. Skin becomes sallow, lethargy sets in, a general malaise takes hold with chapped lips to boot. Simple self-care steps can help stave these off, provide a boost and enrich your Ramadan.
In addition to Salah, which is an excellent way of keeping the body active, simple physical exercise and movement can be invigorating. A brisk walk outdoors or some stretches on your yoga mat during the day are energising and can ward off the lassitude that comes with fasting. I know people who do not change their exercise regimes for Ramadan and will go for a run or to the gym – but closer to the time of breaking fast.
Maintaining your skin health is vital in Ramadan, to keep up hydration as you are unable to drink water. Sallow and lifeless skin only serves to make us feel more lethargic and affects its long-term quality. If you don’t already use a hyaluronic acid serum, this would be a good time to introduce one into your routine as it holds moisture up to several times its’ own weight, and plumps and hydrates the skin. The Ordinary do a very affordable version, and I also enjoy the Pai Back to Life Hydration Serum. Follow with a good facial oil or moisturiser. Use face masks regularly. Skin turnover is diminished when we are not hydrated, and the buildup can make you look dull and grey. Exfoliating masks are brilliant at seeing away this layer using Alpha or Beta-hydroxy acids. My absolute favourite is the Ren GlycoLactic Radiance Renewal mask – it’s like emerging from the bathroom with a new face. Another recent discovery is the Lixir Vitamin C paste; a one-minute mask that brightens the complexion, especially with regular use. And of course, don’t neglect your lips – I have a tube of lip balm practically welded to my palm most days anyway. My pick of the moment is Glossier’s balm dot com.
Caring for plants and the home can be very uplifting in Ramadan, and is an important aspect of self care. Potter around the home, sprucing, tidying. Freshly cut flowers or new plants add life and soul. Starting a new home project, or rearranging existing furniture can be refreshing for the mind. Scent your home with a diffuser. Your home is an extension of yourself, and maintaining it well is important all year round.
A strange one to add when you are supposed to be fasting, but what you eat when you can eat is crucial. Make sure your fridge is well stocked with plenty of vegetables as well as meat, and counter richer foods at Iftar with fresh fruit. Make a smoothie for Sahur with yoghurt, fruit and green leaves – these can be pre-made in individual freezer bags and just whizzed up in the morning sans chopping. Meal planning in Ramadan can be very useful to prevent food waste and to ensure diversity in meals during the month; a week at a time. I know trips to the supermarket always end in me purchasing heaps of food I won’t eat once breaking fast, so going in armed with a list is a good way to avoid that.
Ramadan can be the time of a great reset and to reevaluate what is of importance, and making a hefty master to-do list can be useful. This is good for clearing your mind of tasks that have been niggling, and you can then use spare time on the weekend to tackle them. Accomplishing life admin at this crucial time means you stay organised and don’t fall behind, and this means less worry and anxiety over not having finished something, which works wonders for your mental health.
In addition to reading the Quran, I always find that Ramadan is a wonderful time to get back to reading books and to disconnect from television and social media. I can consume a vast amount of reading material if I don’t indulge in scrolling or flicking through channels, and I wonder why I don’t do it on a regular basis. I like the idea of starting a mini-book club in Ramadan, and discussing books or stories or chapters from the Quran with friends or family around the iftar table.
Self-care for the mind, body, and soul – when better to start than in Ramadan?
Sabreen is a doctor and a micro-blogger who loves coffee, magazines, and homeware. She is also a mother and a wife to a husband who I confused as to why she needs more than ten minutes just to wash her face. He’s catching on though. You can follow their adventures here: apartmentten.com