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Dr Walid Abdul-Hamid – Clinical Director and Consultant Psychiatrist at Priory Wellbeing Centre Dubai - discusses Ramadan and the positive impact that The Holy Month can have.

Fasting is one of the five pillars of Islam, during which Muslims are encouraged to abstain from food and drink between dusk and dawn.

Before you fast, it is always a good idea to check in with your doctor to determine whether or not you should. If you are unable to fast, you can pay the fidyah instead, where you give a poor and hungry person the amount of money equivalent to the cost of two meals a day.

How fasting and being charitable helps your mental health

Fasting is not only about abstaining from food. You also avoid harmful speech such as talking ignorantly or indecently, and also shun negative actions such as arguing or fighting. By doing so, we can focus on developing good behaviours and increasing the number of good deeds we do.

Throughout Ramadan, there is an emphasis on charity and thinking of those in need in order to find ways to unify our community. During this month, we start to think of how we can give back and how to connect with our family and those around us.

Research has shown that such charitable actions can boost endorphins - our ‘feel-good’ brain chemical. The social, active lifestyle that often goes hand-in-hand with being charitable can help to improve our self-esteem as we become immersed in meaningful activities, while also helping us to combat feelings of loneliness and isolation.

The positive emotions we feel from being charitable can also help to banish stress, and help us detach from negative feelings such as anger.

Ramadan offers us a chance to reset

The Holy Month is an opportunity for us to address any unhealthy behaviours. Ramadan is an excellent time to reflect upon and evaluate any unhealthy habits such as smoking, alcohol, drugs or excessive internet use, which can be amended during this month.

Ramadan can give us the spiritual power to reflect on our habits and behaviours. In addition, the ability to avoid unhealthy behaviours for an entire day can be a stepping stone towards resetting and building up a resistance to triggers, while also addressing any urges and impulses.

If you would like to further reflect on your inner self and find ways to break unhelpful and unhealthy habits, Priory Wellbeing Centre Dubai has a range of therapies that can help you to achieve your full potential at your own pace.

If you would like to find out more about our treatments, which include cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), mindfulness and family therapy, you can make an enquiry online. If you would like to speak to someone in person, you can receive a telephone consultation by ringing (+971) 4 245 3800.

As well as his role as Clinical Director of Priory Wellbeing Centre Dubai, Dr Abdul-Hamid is a distinguished consultant psychiatrist with over 30 years of experience in the field of psychiatry and mental health. Dr Abdul-Hamid is also a member of the Royal College of Psychiatry in London and holds a PhD from the University of London.

Previously an associate professor at Bart’s and The London School of Medicine, Dr Abdul-Hamid has published around 50 scientific research articles in a number of prestigious medical and psychiatric journals. In addition, Dr Abdul-Hamid has been the president-elect of the British Arab Psychiatric Association (BAPA) since 2014.