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Fasting and Mental Health

Sanyha is a young person who has a passion for all things art, beauty and mental health related. As a Muslim and someone who has struggled with her mental health, she hopes you find her reflection of fasting during Ramadan helpful.

Ramadan is one of the Holy months of the Islamic calendar, a time in which Muslims dedicate to refocus on purifying their souls and perform through self-reflection, self-sacrifice and prayer. It is a month of fasting and abstaining from any bodily pleasures which helps Muslims develop self-control and a closer connection with God. This month has many positive benefits, however for those who may be suffering from an illness, fasting can become quite difficult to practice - physical or mental illness. 

Over the last few years I have personally struggled with fasting due to how deep my mental health issues had gotten with my depression and anxiety. I was on anti-depressants which is one of the reasons why both my doctor and therapist advised me not to fast but also because of my own triggers and habits which I was aware of such as self harm. Being in that state of depression, it would have been unsafe for my well-being to practice the fasting and this took me a while to accept as religion is something very close to my heart but also something that I struggled with due to the effects of my mental health. 

It is known that physical health can have a huge impact on mental health so this is another factor as the lack of nutrition led me to become quite weak. Combining that weakness with the battles going on in my mind at the time, it was not a healthy mix. 

This seems to be a controversial topic to some however I believe that everybody must do what is right for them regardless of the thoughts of others. I continued the month through prayer and worship despite not fasting, which I believe is one of the main explanations of my mental health improvement overall.

Now with a better mental state, I find fasting is something that actually boosts my mental health through the ability to focus on self-reflection and worship. But it is important to know that this is a very personal situation as each individual has different reasons, beliefs and stories.

You can read more of Sanyha's blog posts on her website.