The Holy Month of Ramadan is a special time in Islam for reflection, spirituality and togetherness.
During Ramadan, many Muslims take a step back and focus attention on the improving themselves and the lives of others. There are many benefits to this, for the individual and those around them, but it could also have a positive impact on health too.
Here are three ways Ramadan practices improve health and wellbeing:
1. Giving back
By helping others, you are not only making a difference to someone else’s life but also improving your own physical and emotional well-being. The act of giving is associated with better health, including lower blood pressure, increased self-esteem, less depression, lower stress levels, longevity and greater happiness. This so-called “helper’s high” is the neurological feel-good effect of generosity, which activates parts of the brain related to enjoyment. Many mosques seek volunteers to distribute food boxes to the less fortunate; giving your time to activities such as these is a great way of giving back.
Reflection and being mindful allows you to be completely in the moment by stepping away from the pressures of daily life and acknowledging your own thoughts and feelings. By doing this on a regular basis you can reduce anxiety and depression. A recently published study demonstrated that participants with generalized anxiety disorder went on to exhibit much lower levels of stress after learning mindfulness techniques. The practice is also known to improve mental clarity, making it easier to concentrate on positive intentions during periods of fasting.
3. Family time
The more time spent with loved ones, the healthier you feel and Ramadan is an opportunity to cherish the company of people you care about. Research found lower levels of depression in those over the age of 50 who saw family and friends at least three times a week. Coming together to break the fast or visit the mosque also exercises the mind and improves cognitive function. In addition, the benefits of a shared meal, such as Iftar, can be beneficial to children. A number of studies have found that shared family meal times help promote language development.
The Holy Month invites us to take time to pause and reflect, focus on our loved ones, and give thanks. With that, the health benefits are far reaching and something that can be beneficial during Ramadan and beyond.