Navigate Ramadan Safely and Healthily: Prioritise Mental Wellbeing and Stay Prepared in 2024

India, 6th March 2024 As the holy month of Ramadan approaches, Muslims worldwide prepare for a journey of spiritual reflection and fasting. This year, Ramadan is expected to begin on or around 11 March. The exact start date will be based on the visibility of the new crescent moon and will be confirmed closer to the expected start date. Fasting hours vary depending on location and will gradually increase throughout the month as the time to begin the fast (Imsak) and end it (Iftar) is directly connected to when the sun rises and sets, respectively. While this period offers deep personal growth, it is crucial to approach it with a focus on both physical and mental wellbeing as well. International SOS, the world’s leading provider of medical and security services, reminds everyone observing Ramadan to prioritise safety and health with expert advice and personalised support.

“This year, we want to emphasise the importance of prioritising mental health and wellbeing during Ramadan. During the holy month of Ramadan, while many find it a time for spiritual reflection and growth, it is important to acknowledge that the changes in routine and physical demands of fasting can impact employeesmental and physical wellbeing. Organisations can help employees navigate the month by safeguarding their health, wellbeing and fostering a more inclusive and understanding work environment.” says Dr Vikram Vora, Medical Director, International SOS, Indian Subcontinent.

He further elaborates, “Adequate hydration and a balanced diet during Suhoor and Iftar are crucial. Prioritising sleep and ensuring a healthy balance between work, rest, and leisure activities are equally important practices for maintaining wellbeing during Ramadan.

Udit Mehta, Executive Vice President and Director of Operations for International SOS highlights the importance of staying safe during Ramadan: “The Islamic holy month of Ramadan is an important period for observant Muslims across the world. In many countries across the Middle East and North Africa, local businesses and government offices adjust working hours for that period.  Mobile workers and foreign residents should familiarise themselves with the cultural norms and practices in their location during Ramadan. For example, in some countries, even those who do not fast may be expected to also refrain from eating, drinking and smoking in public during daylight hours.

Udit Mehta, adds Roads are likely to be particularly congested in the hour before the breaking of the fast. Meanwhile, attending public gatherings and celebrations, particularly during Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan and is a public holiday in many countries across the region, requires situational awareness.”

The end of Ramadan will be marked with a celebration of Eid al-Fitr, when Muslims typically attend their local mosque for Eid prayer in the early morning and host great feasts with their family and friends throughout the day.

International SOS’ top five tips for organisations to support employees observing the fast this Ramadan are:

1. Foster an open environment: Encourage open communication by having a clear and inclusive policy on religious observance in the workplace. This demonstrates respect for employees’ personal beliefs and allows them to comfortably discuss their needs during Ramadan.
2. Ensure employees prioritise health and wellbeing: Remind employees to stagger their hydration during non-fasting hours and to consume nutrient-rich meals during Suhoor and Iftar. Rehydration should be a cumulative process. The best way to rehydrate fasting bodies and maintain this hydration for longer is to pace your liquid intake by consuming at least two litres of water – one or two glasses at a time – between Iftar and Imsak. Quality sleep is also vital for maintaining energy levels, mental clarity, and focus, all crucial for workplace performance.
3. Promote flexible working arrangements:Consider offering flexible working arrangements, such as adjusted start and finish times to accommodate individual needs. Additionally, be understanding if employees require more breaks or need to adjust their break timings for prayers.
4. Offer resources: Provide resources or information about healthy practices during Ramadan, such as recommended dietary guidelines or tips for maintaining energy levels while fasting. This demonstrates care for employees’ wellbeing and empowers them to make informed choices during this important time.
  1. 5. Provide mental health support: Understand that fasting and changes in routine during Ramadan can impact mental wellbeing. Ensure that employees have access to the support they may need to prioritise their mental health throughout Ramadan. Encourage employees to utilise mental health resources offered by the organisation, such as Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs), or provide information about external resources for stress management and emotional support.

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