Mar 14, 2012

Muslimah And Her Health

By Yasmin Ahmed


Wellness of the Body
Weakness, lethargy and constant tiredness is to be expected amongst the poverty stricken. However, when these symptoms are amongst the more affluent, we need to question what is going on.

In an article, I once read that ladies of South Asian origin thought tiredness was a part of normal, everyday life. They never questioned their lack of energy or visit the doctor for help, it was only when ladies became pregnant and went to the ante-natal clinics, anaemia was picked up, and tiredness was confessed.

Feeling tired after a hard day’s work is normal, but when feeling constant tiredness one has to question what is wrong. Our body is always speaking to us and thus we need to stop and listen to learn what our body is saying. The saying ‘prevention is better than cure’, rings more true than ever when it comes to our health. Tiredness could be the indication of a deep underlying problem such as anaemia, vitamin B12 deficiency, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME) etc. and therefore should not be taken lightly.

If you experience constant fatigue then book an appointment with the doctor, and at the same do a review on your health. Do you have healthy well balanced meals? There was a time it was recommended that we had three meals a day, but recently I have heard that six small meals might be more beneficial. Are you eating the meals you are cooking? I know of sisters who complain that once they have cooked a meal they do not feel like eating it and therefore eat something else, so their family might be getting a healthy meal whilst they themselves do not. If you are unsure of whether you have a balanced diet, then keep a diary of what you eat over two weeks, and analyse it by comparing it with a Healthy Food Pyramid [i] or The eat well plate [ii].

Taking proper care of ones health is considered by the Prophet Muhammad pbuh to be the right of the body. (Bukhari as-Sawm 55, an-Nikah 89, Muslim as-siyyam 183, 193, Nisai) [iii]

If you feel you are usually energetic and full of vitality, but tend to slow down more closer to the time of your monthly cycle, then it might be a good idea to take iron supplements or vitamins specially designed for this time, especially if your periods are heavy [iv] (please refer to a doctor before taking any vitamin supplements).

Water Intake
We are constantly being told to drink at least 2 litres of water per day. Water accounts for approximately 60% of our body weight, even a slight drop in our body’s water level can affect us. Fatigue is one of the first signs of dehydration, and therefore drinking plenty of water/fluids is another fatigue buster. Some people argue you can include beverages within your water intake (but do limit your intake), whilst the popular opinion is to drink 7-8 glasses of pure water. If you cannot drink plain water then why not add a squeeze of lemon juice or watered down fruit juice instead of sugary cordials, but you should try to get pure water in your body it will only benefit you.

(Make sure your children are drinking plenty of water as well. Schools in the UK encourage children to bring water bottles to school, so that when their concentration flags and sluggishness sets in they can drink their water to re-energise themselves).

If you have not been drinking the recommended water quota, and do decide to increase your water intake, you will notice that at first you need to go to the bathroom more often. However, you will very quickly learn the benefits of drinking water – having more energy and alertness, sparkly eyes, clear, plump and radiant skin, and within a few weeks your body will get used to the new water level and you will not need to go to the bathroom as often. Continuous hydration will also help to eliminate sunken eyes and dark circles under the eyes (another sign of dehydration!). Therefore drinking water is all good, good, good!

Another tiredness zapper is exercise. You may not feel like putting on your ‘tracky bottoms’ and jogging round the block when you are tired, but you could don on your jubbah and go for a half hour brisk walk. It may feel like you really have to drag yourself to do this, but do it anyway. Very quickly you will find that you perk up and are actually glad you came out. After your stint of exercise you will definitely feel more energised and alert, and find that your mood improves with the release of endorphins and you can after all do that task that you have been putting off.

Wellbeing of the Mind
A healthy balanced meal, exercise, staying hydrated should all help to keep a cap on mood swings. However there are days when we feel more blue than normal and this again is your body asking for attention.

There may be many reasons for feeling blue, such as the time of the month, tiredness, lack of sleep, worry, anxiety, change of season etc. For these symptoms there are cures.

Abu Hurayrah narrates that The Prophet sal Allahu aleyhi wasallam said: 
“There is no disease that Allah has created, except that He also has created its remedy.” Bukhari 7.582 [v]

If up to, during or after the time of the month you feel blue, you may need vitamins and/or minerals. Magnesium [vi] and Potassium [vii] mineral supplements are beneficial [viii] (once again please seek advice of your GP before taking supplements). We hear about vitamins all the time, and do not seem to give as much attention to minerals, yet these are just as essential to our diets.

Sleep is essential to our wellbeing, experts recommend 6 – 8 hours of sleep and the best way of achieving this is by developing a habit of going to bed at a fixed time and waking up at the same time every day. By getting sufficient sleep, our mood is actually better and we tend not to snap at others as much. So as well as ensuring our children are in bed on time, do this for yourself. It is well worth it.

Worry and Anxiety
Whilst on this planet we will always have problems, and as Muslims we know that, that as long as we are alive we will never be problem free, so the best way to deal with a problem is to assess the situation. A friend of mine has a rule – if she can change a situation she will, and if she cannot she leaves it in the hands of Allah subhaana wa ta'aala, and does not worry over it, which is an excellent attitude to take.

When feeling down try and analyse what is going on, has anything happened recently that has rocked your life? What is going on in your head? What are you saying to yourself? Are you making a mountain out of a mole hill? If something major has happened then it might be a good idea to see a counsellor.

If nothing major has happened or you cannot actually put a finger on what is going on start a journal (or diary) and write everything down, do not be afraid of keeping it neat and tidy and filling every page. Write what comes to your mind, you may want to write one day in big capital letters and other days in your normal handwriting, these will all be clues on how you are feeling. You may even want to write a letter to yourself. If you do not feel like writing then scribble, doodle, draw, paint, collage do whatever moves you, do not be afraid of that blank page just get stuck in.

You may learn that there are certain times in the day when you feel worse, and find out what is triggering off these emotions, it could be something as simple as hunger or thirst. You may also learn there are certain things that are going round in your head? For example every time you pass the mirror you may call yourself ‘ugly’, ‘fat’ etc. which is a real morale beater. If you do not value yourself, then why should others value you? Why should anybody be your best friend if you are not your own best friend? You need to argue with these thoughts and really bring them out into the open, is it really true that you are ugly? Has nobody ever complimented you? Or are you only taking in criticism and blanking out the compliments. An NLP technique is to turn the negative into a positive such as ‘you are ugly’ to ‘you are radiant’ and to repeat this often, this is called affirming. You will soon begin to believe it and the magical part is so will others and very soon you will be getting compliments on this. Tried and tested technique!

Sometimes we have things going round in our head like a record player, where no matter what, we do we cannot stop it, the more we try, the more it repeats itself and the more we spiral towards doom and gloom. Find something you enjoy listening to, or reciting and whenever you find this doom gloom record starts to play, start this reciting especially if you are doing nothing, or something mind numbingly boring. A favourite of mine is to recite a short Durood Sharif, which soon transports me back to the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam’s mosque in Madina. You will very quickly find that the record breaks, and those feelings no longer affect you.

[iv] A favourite of mine is Nelsons Spatone 100% Natural Iron Supplement for everyone over the age of 2
[viii] A favourite is Magnesium OK by Wassen

I'd love to hear your views on this topic. Please post in the comments section below! :)


Could I please also add I would like to know what works for you? Why not post your own personal favourites here? Just as I have done in the end note.

As salaamu alaikum Masha'Allah this is written so well and is so .  Thank you so much.  I can attest that all your suggestions work.. I had already implemented most of them in my own life over the past couple years and it's transformed my life.. and especially as I am now heading towards menopause.  

I am now 51 and feel so full of life atm masha'Allah.  I can only say, that changing the way we give our bodies their rights and looking after ourselves before we look after our families, is so important and something us busy wives and mothers often put last on the priority list of things to do.

Put it first and we have more energy to do everything else in our life.. and our bodies do respond very quickly.

Jazakillahu khayran sister..  I'm going to share this around insha'Allah 

Masha Allah, very informative. Being a breast feeding mom, I am always walking around with a water bottle in my hand. And yes I am sleep deprieved. I get my hours but it is just broken. I may wake up a few times at night. However, your right about not wanting the food we cook. Oh this is so true, it is like I cooked it and now I have to eat it... Sometimes, I think it is just about wanted to be cooked for instead, or having something different, eating out, etc. Depression can be a hugh factor as well, like you mentioned. Also, I wanted to mention that I read that doctors used to say drink 8 glasses of water a day, but today they are saying EAT you water instead. Like friuts and vegi's. They have, I think its 80% water in them plus the vitamins and minerals. So if you cant drink your water than eat it. I love fruit, I cut them for my children everyday, all kinds. I like to go by the season. If it is summer you'll always see me with watermellon :D, Winter, for example, oranges. Spring-Mangos, Fall-Pumpkins (Our Prophets fav.) 

For the sleep deprived I have come across a super course by Productive Muslim (hope it is okay to post here) on managing your sleep - again tried and tested.

Salaam sisters only yesterday I came across a mother who was crying for help, she really didn't know what was going on with her body and was afraid to go to the doctors for fear that he may prescribe her anti-depressants. I strongly urge you to please share what helps you, and how you have overcome certain obstacles in your life jazakallah  

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