Friday, 1 April 2022

How to make the most of your time in Ramadan

The illusion of time in Ramadan: Time takes on a new quality during the holy month. With the lucky among us getting out of the office or classroom a little earlier, and workloads easing off, Ramadan should bring the gift of more time. But the whirlwind of family and social commitments — and disrupted sleep and meal schedules — can leave us feeling even more exhausted. Here are our top tips to make sure you use this month to claw back time for yourself, your family, and your community.

A goal without a plan is just a wish: Take a beat before the action begins to define what a Ramadan well spent looks and feels like for you. Make your aims specific and measurable — and don’t hesitate to use the same tools that help you succeed in your career or business. Draw up a social calendar with automated reminders to make sure you finally get around to paying Tante a visit, or negotiate a schedule to make sure everyone in the household shares the burden of extra cooking and chores.

Beware time drains: One thing the holy month reminds us of is that a little discipline can do a world of good. Cut out that mind-numbing series that isn’t even fun to hate-watch, the daily (or twice, or thrice-daily) trips to a packed grocery store, or the doom scroll that stops you from getting a couple hours of shut-eye before sohour. Forward planning — and reminding yourself of your Ramadan goals — can help you recognize and reduce the amount of time you spend on things that just aren’t worth it.

Focus on your people: Two+ years of pandemic living has seen some of us withdraw into our cocoons, leaving valuable friendships and family relationships long untended — but not forgotten. If you’ve been feeling disconnected from those you hold dear, Ramadan is the perfect time to do something about it. Pick up the phone, send that “wahashtuny” text, and arrange to meet around the iftar table. Then leave the devices alone and get stuck into catching up IRL.

Then widen the net: We all know this is the month for giving back to our communities. For many, that means financial donation — but it doesn’t have to stop there. Deploy your time — and your skills — to further a cause or help someone in need. By helping others, you’ll also help yourself: Studies show that volunteering “is significantly predictive of better mental and physical health, life satisfaction, self-esteem, happiness, lower depressive symptoms, psychological distress, and mortality and functional inability.”

Where to start: Plenty of Egyptian NGOs are on the lookout for help. Some of them are always taking on volunteers for roles from administration, to family support, to organizing fun activities for the kids, allowing you to dedicate some time during Ramadan to orphans, the elderly, homeless people, and those with special needs among others.

Low commitment is no bad thing: Not looking to take on a formal volunteering role? Consider weaving simple acts of kindness into your Ramadan routine — like heading down to the street to hand out dates and water at iftar, or gifting a hot meal or blanket to someone sleeping rough. Forgive the cliche, but a little can go a long way.

Top tips to make it stick: Choose an activity that aligns with your values and that you enjoy and are good at; be realistic about the amount of time you are willing and able to donate; and bring friends and family along for the ride. The more easy, fun, and fulfilling the experience, the more likely you are to extend the habit beyond the holy month.

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