Ramadan advice for healthcare workers: 6 ways to look after yourself and colleagues

Ramadan 2024 falls between Sunday 10th March – Friday 21st April.

Whether you’re a nurse or carer observing this holy month, or want to know how best to support your colleagues, we’re here to help.

Here are six ways to best look after yourself during Ramadan as a busy working healthcare professional – as well as four tips for supporting colleagues who are observing.

6 self-care tips for working through Ramadan

1. Stay hydrated

Being hydrated is not only vital for body function but it also impacts on sleep quality, cognition, and mood. Prepare for your fasting day ahead by drinking enough water throughout the night – the NHS recommends at least six to eight glasses.

Also remember that you need to drink more water when you have caffeine or sugary drinks; the latter is usually the case with many typical Ramadan drinks.

2. Eat well

When Iftar begins (breaking the fast once the sun has set), focus on filling meals and minimise snacking to prepare your body for the next day.

Eat fluid-rich food and those that contain natural sugars for energy, such as dates. Other dried fruits including apricots, figs, raisins or prunes are also rich in nutrients, while soups packed with pulses are another traditional way to break the fast.

Slow-release fare such as nuts, oats, chickpeas, as along with starchy foods, wholegrains, vegetables, dairy and protein-rich foodstuffs like meat, fish, eggs and beans, all help to provide balance in your diet during Ramadan.

3. Get enough sleep

During the Holy Month, Ramadan changes your body clock and normal sleep routines can be disrupted by social gatherings and activities, which can often run late into the night, altering your resting patterns.

Try to get some shut-eye when you can, and bear in mind that longer blocks of sleep are more beneficial than multiple short naps.

Aim to sleep for chunks of hours at a time; for example, for a minimum of four hours at night after Iftar, before waking for Suhoor and Fajr, then going back to sleep for a couple of hours before getting up for the working day ahead.

4. Exercise

Fasting isn’t the time to set new personal records or push yourself to the limit.

Instead, continue with your current physical activity levels and always listen to your body and modify your movements accordingly.

xercise does have many benefits though – even a 15-minute walk during your lunch break will make a difference.

5. Listen to your body

Fasting can bring about changes to energy levels and for some that might mean needing to take more moments of rest, so take a break when you can.

Put a few moments aside in your day to check in on what you need and where you can shift your focus and reflect on your day.

6. Share your experience

Let your employer know that you’ll be fasting so they can assist you and help to make alternative arrangements during your shifts if necessary.

Also, if you feel overwhelmed at any point, tell a colleague who you feel comfortable with and ask them for their support.

4 ways to support colleagues observing Ramadan

If you’re not observing Ramadan, here’s how you can help when working with your colleagues who are…

1. Find out more

Read up on what Ramadan is and why fasting happens – and do ask colleagues reasonable questions if you’re curious to know more.

2. Be respectful

It’s ok to eat and drink around colleagues who are fasting (the vast majority have been fasting since they were young and are used to it) but be mindful still. For example, don’t continuously ask if a coworker who is observing Ramadan would like a tea or coffee, as they cannot even have fluids whilst fasting.

3. Be flexible

Sleep and prayer schedules vary during Ramadan – if you’re in charge of setting work hours, try to meet observers’ needs where possible, for example, scheduling earlier start times, a shorter lunch break or extra breaks for prayer.

4. Recognise

Wishing your colleagues a “Happy Ramadan” or saying “Ramadan Kareem”, which means “have a generous Ramadan”, will be appreciated.

Exemptions from fasting according to the NHS Muslim Network

Some colleagues may not be fasting for part or the entire month of Ramadan. Muslims can be exempt from fasting for the following reasons:

  • Having an illness (physical or mental), taking medication or being very frail
  • Menstruating or experiencing lochia discharge as a woman
  • Being a pregnant or lactating woman who has credible health concerns for oneself or child
  • Travelling

Be sensitive to those who may not be fasting, especially those who may feel a sense of disappointment for not being able to do so. Those exempted from fasting are still able to observe Ramadan and reap the spiritual benefits during this time in other ways.

Find further advice for line managers and colleagues in the NHS Muslim Network’s Ramadan and Eid Guidance 2024.

Wishing you a happy Ramadan from Florence. Our app helps you find flexible shifts, take essential training courses and improve your work-life balance. Find out more and sign up today.

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