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Navigating Anxiety & Change In A Post-Covid Ramadan

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As Ramadan approaches, Muslims around the country are looking forward to tarawih prayers, community iftaars, and Eid celebrations again. The widespread availability of vaccines and the easing of restrictions in the US has meant that the country can tentatively return to whatever remains of “normal.”  After experiencing two years with Ramadan observations and Eid celebrations hunkered down and relatively isolated, many Muslims may be wondering how they will navigate the anxiety and change that a post-Covid Ramadan presents this year.

We have to come to terms with the fact that this normal is not going to be the same as before COVID. Even though many of us are eager to go back to things exactly as they were before, it may be impossible. Given the extent of the pandemic’s effects on our lives, it’s understandable that there have been a lot of changes to the way we live, work, and interact with others. These changes are ones we can also expect to impact our experiences during Ramadan. For some of us there has been significant shifts within the family, and altogether this gives us a feeling of dislocation.

Given the extent of the pandemic’s effects on our lives, there have been a lot of changes to the way we live, work, and interact with others. These changes are ones we can also expect to impact our experiences during Ramadan.Click To Tweet

Now that we are asked to change back, it’s good to remind ourselves that change can be stressful. It’s important for us to be patient with ourselves and with our feelings. Even positive change can lead to feelings of anxiety, and it can take time to readjust to a different type of Ramadan full of things we haven’t done for a while.

Even positive change can lead to feelings of anxiety, and it can take time to readjust to a different type of Ramadan full of things we haven’t done for a while.Click To Tweet
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Feelings of anxiety are likely to pass with time as we get used to the “new normal” but it’s important to do what we can to take care of our mental health. While there are lots of things that can help you to manage these feelings and make it easier to adjust, here are some tips for taking care of your mental health.

1. Go at your own pace

It might be tempting to make lots of plans, overwhelm ourselves with a lot of tasks, and say yes to everything now that restrictions have lifted, but there’s no need to rush. Take it one step at a time, and only do what feels comfortable as you ease back into socializing. You can increase your time as you slowly build back your confidence.

2. Don’t avoid things entirely

Avoiding the things that make us anxious might feel easier in the short term, but can lead to isolation in the long term; making it harder for us to overcome our anxiety. Instead we can set small manageable goals. You can start meeting close friends and family outside, and gradually build up from there. It can help to talk about your plans with friends and family members so that they can support your journey forward.

3. Discuss any changes with others

Before socializing with others, talk about the situation with them to make sure everybody is on the same page about what feels comfortable. If you live with other people, it’s a good idea to talk to them about changes to restrictions as well. Being aware of each person’s fears and expectations can help to avoid conflict.

4. Make time to relax

It is okay to take breaks, say no to invitations, and find regular time for yourself to relax. Being able to see more of our friends and family and visit places again is exciting, however, it can be overwhelming to take it all in at once. Keep a relaxation regimen in place to help you stay grounded.

5. Challenge unhelpful thoughts

It’s normal to feel worried every now and then, but our anxious thoughts can sometimes be unhelpful and keep us away from activities that make life fulfilling. When we can learn to identify and separate unhelpful thoughts from helpful ones, we can find a different way to look at the situation.

6. Tell someone how you feel

It’s easy to feel isolated or lonely when we’re struggling. However, chances are that someone we know feels exactly the way we do. Opening up to a person we trust can be really helpful, whether it’s a friend or family member, a therapist, or on a helpline. We are only burdening ourselves when we stay silent.

7. Plan social occasions

Dealing with uncertainty can be difficult, but making plans can help. Preparing for any challenges ahead of time can help us to feel more comfortable and confident in what we’re doing. A “plan” can be as simple as knowing what time an event will start and finish, and how many people are likely to be there. Knowing what we are and are not comfortable with helps us to make a better plan.

8. Find routine

During the periods of lockdown and greater restrictions, life changed for us all and we developed new routines. Even if your normal weekday or weekend habits have now changed again, some things can stay the same.

Are there areas in your life where it’s easier to stick to a routine? Something as simple as going to bed and waking up at the same time each day or making sure to stick to your set lunch break can make a big difference.

9. Focus on the present

When there is a lot of change happening, we can get caught up in worrying about the future and the past. Instead, try to shift your focus to the present – make plans but try not to dwell on “what ifs” or what was “supposed” to happen. Relaxation, prayer, mindfulness or getting outside and enjoying nature are all good ways to help you focus on the present.

 

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A Post-Covid Ramadan

Ramadan is going to be a time where we all come together and share our COVID stories and learn things about others that we previously had not known. Though we all may share different levels of comfort and sociability, we can learn to listen to each other, and respect our differences. The challenge is that we are all going to have to live with a certain amount of uncertainty…. together.

Ramadan is going to be a time where we all come together and share our COVID stories...we can learn to listen to each other and respect our differences. Click To Tweet

Remembering that Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) is the one in control, and He is the Master of Planners can remind us that things are as they are supposed to be, and that the past and the future is already written. Our responsibility is to navigate the present and trust that Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) is our Protector and Sustainer.

 

Related reading:

Prepping The Mind, Body, And Soul For Ramadan

Keep supporting MuslimMatters for the sake of Allah

Alhamdulillah, we're at over 850 supporters. Help us get to 900 supporters this month. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

Anika Munshi is a Licensed Professional Counselor-Associate (supervised by Abida Minhas) and is passionate about working with Muslims both as a counselor and a graphic designer. As a counselor, Anika believes in keeping God at the center, and helping individuals heal and grow towards God. Anika has worked as a graphic designer for over 10 years serving Muslim businesses and organizations and incorporates traditional Islamic aesthetics to create modern forms of visual dawah.

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