How to manage your workload and exercise when fasting in Ramadan
Time Out Bahrain staff
Productivity tends to decrease during Ramadan as hangry workers make their way through the day. To tackle this, Rowad Ehlela shares nine helpful tips to keep up at the office.
Fasting can often have detrimental effects on workplace productivity during Ramadan if mismanaged. In a highly commercial environment people are often under pressure to perform in their respective roles. To ensure you are achieving set objectives at work, and optimising your potential, it is imperative that work flow is effectively managed and that you are readily prepared for your day-to-day tasks.
Eating habits, workload management and effective thinking play a major role on productivity. These nine tips will help you ensure that you stay happy at work and have a healthy Ramadan.
Psychosomatic alterations Also known as the mood changes your body goes through during Ramadan. A number of studies have investigated the effect fasting has on mood and irritability in individuals. These studies invariably show a decrease in feelings of alertness and an increase in lethargy and irritability during the day. Firstly, it’s important to recognise the seismic shift in mood and make the effort to better communicate with colleagues, as well as counteract the natural feeling of lethargy. Try figuring out a reward system for getting work done. This will enhance your mood and encourage productivity.
Hydration It’s essential you are rehydrating the body at your earliest opportunity and staggering your intake of fluids from iftar to suhoor. Avoid fizzy drinks and stick to water/non sugary juices. Three to four litres are to be consumed to ensure you are replenishing your body of that lost hydration throughout the day. A glass of coconut water is an excellent recommendation as it is full of electrolytes such as sodium, magnesium, calcium and potassium.
Workload management Focusing on the most important tasks in the morning, when energy levels are at their highest, will ensure that work isn’t overly demanding throughout the day and you can set about the more routine day-to-day tasks after you’ve expended your energy.
Exercise Maintaining a regular exercise plan is often neglected by those fasting. Regular exercise releases endorphins into the system and balances out the high intake of food many consume through the evenings. Exercise speeds up the metabolism, leading to more effective digestion. I would recommend training one hour after a light iftar meal, lasting no longer than 45 minutes at a moderate level to ensure you are not overworking the body. Twenty minutes cardiovascular training followed by some moderate weight training is ideal.
Sleep and the circadian rhythm Your body relies on the circadian rhythm to dictate when you sleep, eat and feel at your most productive. It is important to recognise that, during Ramadan, people often stay awake through the night and end up feeling tired at work, leading to procrastination. Maintaining a regular sleeping pattern is going to ensure you are fresh for the following day. Make sure you get your eight hours!
Nutritional preparation What you eat during non-fasting hours plays a huge role in how you feel at work. Slow-digesting carbohydrate foods such as brown rice, oatmeal and whole wheat pastas are excellent for maintaining energy. It’s important that your body receives a balanced diet in order to maintain productivity at work – restocking those nutrients, anti-oxidants and proteins lost throughout the day is vital. Strategically assess your intake of foods, and make sure you regain those lost nutrients and protein.
Coping mechanisms Taking a moment to compose yourself when the fast becomes overbearing, to beat those headaches that creep in from looking at the computer screen all day, is important. Take intermittent breaks, say ten to 15 minutes, three to four times a day, to refocus yourself, rest your head and close your eyes for a few minutes. Focus on your breathing, slow and deep breaths, in through the nose and out through the mouth. Alternatively, find an open area for a little stretch.
This can help blood flow and relieve stress around the neck and lower back, especially for those bound to a desk.
Avoid distractions When you’re feeling drained physically, it’s easy to get distracted by the internet and by idle chat among colleagues. To maintain productivity you must take yourself away from these pitfalls. Creating a task list can help ensure you get what needs to be done checked off. Avoid all remotes, telephones and other handheld distractions which will pull you away from your work.
Don’t torture yourself Gossiping with colleagues about what’s on the menu for iftar will only leave you feeling more exhausted and hungry.
Avoid food pointless food talk and use that time to concentrate on work which will only help time to pass more quickly.
Stay refreshed Rather than napping in the office, take time to refresh. Cleanse your face with some cold water and take a shower if working from home. Keep your body refreshed and your mind will follow suit. Rowad Ehlela is the director of business development for Evolve, a GCC-based group of fitness instructors and nutritionists. www.evolvemindbodysoul.com