Caregiver Fatigue During Ramadan
As we approach the 3rd week of Ramadan, fatigue can often set in quickly. For caregivers, Ramadan fatigue is especially intense as fasting coincides with the often demanding responsibilities of caring for a loved one. During Ramadan, many Muslims may overextend themselves in their daily lives and neglect acts of self-care.
The particularly early hours and late nights of Ramadan can take a large toll on the mind and body. Although it may seem difficult to maintain the spirits of the previous weeks, here are several ways to take care of yourself this Ramadan and make the most of what is left of this holy month:
Make time for yourself
Caregivers should embrace self-care and ensure that time is allocated accordingly for themselves daily to fully enjoy the blessings of this month. Before waking up others for sahur, caregivers can allocate 30 to 45 minutes for themselves to eat, pray and prepare sahur for the entire family. This is also a good time to recuperate and prepare for the day ahead.
Be mindful of eating habits during sahur and iftar
Good nutrition is of the utmost importance during Ramadan. Lack of a nutritious diet can lead to dehydration, low energy and even stress. During sahur and iftar, caregivers should eat a well-balanced diet and drink plenty of water to stay healthy and hydrated. At the same time, it isn’t necessary to overindulge during these times as overeating can cause the body to become more sluggish and overtired. Instead, focus on portion control by breaking the fast with something light and paying attention to the body during iftar.
Remember to practice patience during Ramadan
According to the teachings of Islam, practising ‘Sabr’ or patience is a very important objective during Ramadan. During fasting, the virtues of ‘Sabr’ can be difficult to hold, however, one of the main goals of Ramadan is to build on and improve patience. From a caregivers perspective, an easy way to remain patient is to remember that nothing should be taken to heart. Caregivers should also take the time to recognise triggers and practice ways to calm themselves during stressful encounters.
It is also important to note that respite care is a very important aspect of caregiving and each caregiver deserves a break or short-term relief as the primary caregiver. Reaching out to able-bodied loved ones or getting respite care from professionals are good ways to recover to continue giving the best care for a loved one.
Control the tongue
Fasting during Ramadan does not only consist of abstaining from eating and drinking, Muslims are also expected to control or safeguard their tongue from anger, foul language, backbiting and lying. Each caregiver will go through a range of emotions while caring for a loved one. Unfortunately, during fasting, frustration or anger can be an easy emotion that we encounter daily.
To avoid hurting loved ones with words said during anger, caregivers can practice simple breathing techniques such as breathing slowly into the nose and exhaling through the mouth. This will not only help with calming the body but will also give you time to think before speaking.
Empathising with our loved ones is also a useful technique to avoid anger. An easy way to follow through with this method is to remember the ‘Golden Rule’ of treating others how we want to be treated.
The Prophet Muhammad S.A.W said: “And let him treat the people the way he would love to be treated.”
Improve time management
Improving time management is a great way to make the most of this holy month. Muslim caregivers can start scheduling their daily activities months before the start of Ramadan to map out the activities and prayers for the entire month. However, if a daily action plan was not created in advance, Muslims can start setting their Ramadan goals or daily checklist at any time during the month.
This can include a prayer tracker, daily reflection and gratitude, a daily checklist and even a food menu. Once the daily activities are organised, it can be much easier to coordinate and ultimately reduce stress and time wastage for caregivers.
Daily Quran reading and tarawih with loved ones
This holy month is also a time to reconnect with loved ones on a spiritual level. On top of having sahur and iftar together, caregivers can also encourage the entire family to perform Ramadan prayer together. After iftar each night, make time with everyone at home for daily Quran recitation and Tarawih prayers to maximise good deeds and strengthen family bonds.
Reconnect with extended family
Not only is Ramadan a good time to bond with our immediate family, but it is also an important time to reconnect with other relatives. For caregivers, this is the time to help loved ones reach out to those near and far and help to help combat loneliness and even improve mental and emotional health for the caregivers and seniors.
Giving charity or ‘Sadaqah’
As one of the most important aspects of Islam and particularly during Ramadan, acts of charity and kindness are heavily encouraged for all Muslims. A great way to reap the benefit of this month is by helping those in need. Muslim caregivers can help the local communities by donating books, clothing and other household goods that may find a new home elsewhere.
Closer to home, caregivers should also acknowledge that the act of caregiving and show compassion in our everyday actions are also a form of Sadaqah.
The Prophet Muhammad S.A.W said: “Charity given to the poor is charity, and that given to a relative is two things: charity and upholding the ties of kinship.”
Ramadan and Caregivers
For caregivers, Ramadan can be an exceptionally demanding time. Managing fasting, prayers and caring for loved ones are not easy tasks to be handled every day. However, with a proper self-care regimen and solid time management plan, caregivers can still make the most out of the holy month.
It would also be useful to remember the true purpose of Ramadan: a time for reflection and a means to grow closer to Allah. All Muslims can benefit from the practices above and we truly hope this article has been useful for our Muslim readers.
Homage would like to everyone Ramadan Mubarak!
- A healthy Ramadan (n.d) Org.uk. Available at: https://www.nutrition.org.uk/healthyliving/seasons/ramadan.html (Accessed: April 20, 2021).
- Cronkleton, E. (2019) 10 breathing exercises to try: For stress, training & lung capacity, Healthline.com. Available at: https://www.healthline.com/health/breathing-exercise (Accessed: April 20, 2021).
- Taking care of YOU: Self-care for family caregivers (2013) Caregiver.org. Available at: https://www.caregiver.org/resource/taking-care-you-self-care-family-caregivers/ (Accessed: April 20, 2021).