Fasting during Ramadan is not just about refraining from food and drink from dawn until dusk. It also brings numerous benefits for mental health. In this article, we will explore three ways in which Ramadan fasting can benefit your mental wellbeing.
1. Alleviating Anxiety and Depression
According to Dr. Nada Omer Mohamed Elbashir, a consultant and psychiatrist at Burjeel Hospital in Abu Dhabi, there is increasing evidence supporting the positive impact of fasting on mental health. Fasting can help alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression, and reduce stress levels.
Research has shown that fasting can increase the levels of serotonin in the blood. This neurotransmitter plays a crucial role in regulating mood, and its increased levels can help suppress symptoms of anxiety and depression.
It’s important to note, however, that fasting is not recommended for individuals with pre-existing medical or mental health conditions. If you are planning to fast during Ramadan, it’s crucial to monitor your physical and mental condition closely.
2. Reducing Stress Levels
Fasting during Ramadan has been shown to have a positive impact on stress levels, anxiety, and symptoms of depression. Dr. Farinaz Aghajan Nashtaei, a psychiatrist at the International Modern Hospital Dubai, suggests that fasting can improve cognitive function and prevent age-related cognitive decline.
Studies have also shown that fasting can slow down nerve degeneration and improve functional recovery in stroke patients. This effect is thought to be mediated by various neuroendocrine mechanisms, such as increasing plasma levels of ghrelin and serotonin, which improve mood and cognitive function.
However, fasting can also have negative effects on mental health if it’s not done properly. Dehydration and fatigue can lead to irritability, mood swings, and difficulty concentrating. Changes in eating and sleeping patterns can also trigger anxiety, depression, and stress.
3. Practicing Self-Care
To ensure that Ramadan fasting is a meaningful and rewarding experience that enhances your physical and mental wellbeing, it’s important to practice self-care. This includes paying attention to your fluid and nutritional needs outside of fasting hours, maintaining a balanced diet, staying hydrated, getting enough rest, and engaging in regular physical activity.
Practicing relaxation techniques, such as meditation or deep breathing exercises, can also help manage stress levels. It’s also important to maintain social relationships and stay connected with loved ones during this time, as feelings of isolation and loneliness can arise due to changes in social interactions during Ramadan.