Fasting can take a toll on your body and mind. You may feel constantly tired, unable to concentrate and sometimes moody and upset. Here are some ways to help you make the most of fasting while making it easier for you to stay focused.
Have small meals: You get tired in the day because the last time you ate was at bedtime and/or Suhoor. This tiredness is due to the lack of food intake. Food energizes the mind and body, and without it you feel lethargic and find it hard to focus. To reduce your level of tiredness, have a small meal at Iftar as opposed to a big one which will make you even more lethargic. Follow the Iftar with small meals at two-hour intervals until bedtime or Suhoor. This provides you with added endurance the following day.
Avoid caffeine: If you get headaches and cannot focus it may be because you are not getting your regular caffeine fix, such as tea or coffee. The caffeine escalates blood circulation to your brain, and when you suddenly withdraw from such a stimulant, you get headaches and your ability to focus and concentrate is greatly reduced. In the evenings, after Iftar, substitute your regular drinks with herbal teas, such as chamomile or mint tea. And remember, for the next year it would be best to gradually reduce your intake of caffeine over the weeks leading to Ramadan.
Take regular breaks: Studies have shown that we can only fully focus for 40 to 50 minutes in a stretch. After that the focus level begins to sag. Take regular ten minute breaks every 40 minutes or so. Wash your face with cold water, do wudu (ablution), and take a short walk outside to freshen up and stimulate your mind and body. You can even time this with your prayer breaks to make best use of the day.
Schedule new sleep time: With all the late meals and early Suhoors this Ramadan, your sleep pattern is greatly disrupted. Having Iftar late in the evening, followed by small meals every two hours and an early morning Suhoor can throw your body into disorder. Alter your sleeping pattern in order to have a healthy sleep. For example, you can sleep early and wake up 30 minutes before Suhoor, so you can have a light meal. Getting a good night’s sleep will help you focus better and reduce tiredness. If possible, fit in an afternoon nap.
Light stretching: Do some light stretches when you wake up or whenever possible during the day. By stretching your body, you get a boost of energy and circulate the much needed oxygen to your brain. Make sure you go for a short walk during work breaks.
Eat a balanced diet: Do your best to eat complex carbohydrate foods for sustained energy. For example, you should eat brown rice and pasta, fruits and vegetables. Complex carbohydrates release energy throughout the day. It is better to skip processed foods and refined carbohydrates, such as sugar, chocolate and cakes.
Stay motivated: Remember that Ramadan is a time for reflection, repentance and devotion to Allah. Remind yourself that you are gaining spiritual reward by fasting and this will help you stay motivated.