I’m used to working throughout Ramadan and simultaneously upholding all of my Ramadan Ibadah and other responsibilities; as a daughter, friend, sister, member of the community, passion project/not for profit worker etc. I’ve always believed in ‘continue as you are’ and that Ramadan wasn’t a time to slow down and get lazy. I found that not having to eat or drink allowed me to get more work done and focus my lunch breaks entirely on Ibadah too. In my head, this was a win win.
I used to work in a primary school a few years back and this meant I was home much sooner during Ramadan and could afford to take afternoon naps. This was essential to staying alert and refreshed when it came to praying Tarawih in congregation throughout the night. But now, working 10 – 6 means that by the time I’m home from work, the little time before Maghrib is spent preparing Iftar and the little time before Isha and Tarawih is spent washing and tidying up because I refuse to use plastic or paper plates (#ecoConciousness).
Throughout Ramadan, I also make a point to try and do as much good as possible. Without going into the specifics of what this ‘good’ looks like for me, all of these efforts combined slowly began taking a toll on my time, energy and physical health. By working myself to the ground and refusing to slow down or take breaks, I found myself sleep deprived, achy and disheartened. Sure, I was immersing myself in my worship and my heart was moved, the Qur’an would wash over me every night and the masjid is a third home for me, but with work as another home, and barely any time spent in my actual home, I was beginning to burn out.
I began desperately thinking of ways I could avoid this happening next year but I couldn’t reconcile the fact that this attitude meant I was giving up on stopping it THIS Ramadan. So with ten days left, I’ve come up with the following:
Book that annual leave!
Where I work is supportive and very aware of what Ramadan is (I’ve made a point to make everyone very conscious) so all I have to do is say I need a break. Having realised that I was seriously struggling, I’ve now afforded myself days off throughout the remaining ten days. Mini breaks will allow me to return to work refreshed and mini breaks will allow me to perform even better in my worship and remembrance of Allah SWT. We are allowed to be selfish with our time sometimes, especially when Ramadan means as much as it does to us. We aren’t guaranteed to see next Ramadan and these precious remaining days are better off spent in focus and contemplation as opposed to just work. If you can’t book annual leave but genuinely feel yourself burning out, you are entitled to call in sick. Mental or emotional sickness counts too!
Negotiate with your boss
It’s rare that they have it out for you and want to see you sleep deprived and suffering. I have a friend in the Netherlands who negotiated with her boss that she will come into work whenever she wakes up. But to be reasonable, she ensures she always gets in before midday. (I’m truly blown away at her negotiation skills, Allahumma Barik Laha). Each organisation and company is different, negotiate something realistic and reasonable for both you and your employer.
You’re allowed to skip some nights at the Masjid!
This is a major note to self. Our Prophet (pbuh) stayed home from Tarawih prayers occasionally. It is proven in al-Saheehayn that the Prophet (pbuh) led his companions in prayer (Tarawih) for several nights, then on the third or fourth night he did not come out to them. When morning came he said: “Nothing prevented me from coming out to you except the fact that I feared that it would be made obligatory for you.” Narrated by Al-Bukhaari, 1129. According to the version narrated by Muslim (761): “But I feared that night prayers would be made obligatory for you and you would not be able to do them.”
I get it, it feels special and warming to pray in congregation. When I skip a night and return the following night the community asks me where I was and tells me they missed me, and I feel disheartened that I missed a chunk of the Qur’an. It sucks to be away but coming back refreshed and energised allows you to appreciate the Ibadah much more. You’d rather take small bursts of self care than completely burn out and have to miss lengthier periods later. Also, there’s nothing wrong with praying at home! It’s all good! Don’t be too hard on yourself.
Watch what you eat
This truly plays an impact on your productivity and health. Burnout happens for a number of reasons, nutrition therapy can play a big part in helping overcome it. If you find yourself feeling sluggish and/or fatigued, you may want to consider evaluating what you’re eating. Whether you’re eating too much, too little or not the right foods at all! For more information on nutritious diet during Ramadan, click here
There’s so many benefits in taking short power naps, and there’s nothing lazy or time wasting about them. If you sleep in a state of Wudu, it can also be a form of worship. Allah SWT intends ease and goodness for you, and He does not wish to make things difficult. Naps are good, schedule them, your overall health and focus will thank you for it! If you struggle to fall asleep during the day, listen to whale sounds, rain fall or whatever else might help sooth your soul and coax you into a sweet slumber!
Burnout often takes long periods of time and hard work to get out of, and this by no means is a quick fix. But in the case of Ramadan burnout, I pray these small practical steps can be of some benefit. I pray these remaining ten nights of Ramadan are blessed, productive and bountiful for you and your loved ones. May Allah SWT accept our efforts and grant us the very best in this life and the next.