With Ramadan, those of us who intend to perform hajj are most likely already preparing. the process most often starts with selecting a group, a package, and making arrangements in advance for the moment when we will be there. Most of us start thinking about the finer details after we’ve completed these tasks: what apparels we’ll wear to tolerate the heat (and how we’ll clean them), what unscented items and shoes we’ll require, and how many hand sanitizers and medicines we’ll need for the duration of the journey. A major source of preparation anxiety frequently revolves around the dreaded bathrooms (the suitable harem pants are lifesavers for women!).
What we don’t prepare for as much as the physical exertion that will be required to perform our Hajj as smoothly as possible. I’ve seen so many people come for hajj and put the effort into their worship as soon as they arrive. Sleep? Who demands it? While the motivation is contagious (including all the germs in the atmosphere) and extremely inspiring, the majority of people get sick before we get to the main course that is Hajj Manasik.
The problem here isn’t simply a lack of sleep. It’s because our bodies aren’t ready for such a rigorous exercise for continuously two weeks. It’s no surprise that so many of us fall so quickly due to a lack of health preparation and jumping directly into such a demanding and unusual flow. We must prepare ourselves not only spiritually, but also physically and emotionally, for the journey known as hajj. Just as someone would purposefully focus on strengthening their endurance for a marathon run.
Because our health is a great blessing from Allah. Before booking any sort of hajj packages, the following suggestions are useful all year round. But, they’re especially important as we prepare for what we hope will be a life-changing journey.
During Ramadan, we have some serious training in self-control once it comes to eating food (especially at Iftaar time). It’s an excellent idea to use Ramadan as a springboard if you’re going to Hajj. Begin by eliminating excess sweets and processed foods from your diet. Include healthy foods in your diet that will energize and strengthen your body while also improving your health. Keep increasing your intake of vegetables, as well as healthy protein & fat sources. Making these healthier changes should result in more energy and endurance. Small changes can have a big impact, especially if they are implemented consistently.
Become used to drinking water because there’s a lot of it. People frequently fear having to use the bathroom too frequently as their water intake increases. While this can be inconvenient, I’d rather go to the bathroom a few times than passing out during the most significant days of my life. Many medical emergencies can (and have) occurred as a result of dehydration. We aren’t used to going to the level of hazardous dehydration in the west. We’re also not used to the sort of heat that’s normal for Makkah, where we’re continuously sweating. Yes, this implies you should have a strong/fragrance-free deodorant with you. However, it also means you should be prepared to continue drinking water. To maintain proper mineral balances and hydration, add electrolytes if possible. This is something I can’t emphasize anymore.
It’s important to remember that this is a two-week spiritual, physical, and emotional struggle. All of these aspects of our being are linked, especially with the hajj. It will be more difficult to maximize the spiritual advantages that we all hope for if you are unable to keep up with the physical requirements. Increase the exercise intensity, if you’re already doing it. While you’re at it, go the extra mile and do an additional set of squats. Start a walking routine at least a few months before if you aren’t used to exercising. If you need some motivation, try a program like Couch to 5k. Otherwise, start with a 15-minute brisk walk and gradually increase to an hour.
The sooner you start this preparation, the better it would be. Even so, you should start as soon as Ramadan ends. Those pakoras & biryani aren’t letting any of us get stronger!
Find something that is both relaxing and effective for you. I don’t say lying on a beach in a hammock, as lovely as that sounds. When you’re feeling anxious or overwhelmed, find a practical way to calm yourself. The Hajj is a set of events that puts our mental, emotional, and also physical strength to a test. Finding and practicing a way to relax ahead of time will be invaluable during the (many) times when you feel overwhelmed or tired. This could include staying seated for a few more minutes after Salah to participate in dhikr or dua. To relax the nervous system, it could be as convenient as slowing down and practicing deep breathing. Spend some time before hajj experimenting with multiple active forms of calming. So that, you can use it as a tool during hajj.
Supplements and medicines:
It should go without saying that if you are taking any medications, you should keep them with you at all times. I’d go as far as to advise that placing your medications in your checked luggage at any stage during your trip is a bad decision. There may be a chance of delaying your luggage, and the last thing you need is to be without your medicines. In addition to medicines, hajj is a perfect time to take immune-boosting supplements (with your doctor’s recommendation, of course!). There are numerous natural supplements & vitamins in the market that can help you boost your immune system to fight against infection and illness. Echinacea, vitamin C, zinc, garlic oil, oregano oil, and Honey are all-natural immune system boosters. Please keep in mind that this is not medical advice, but also an inspiration to do some research to find ways to boost your immune system. Chewing raw garlic may be more beneficial – it will naturally keep people away from you and you won’t have to worry about catching germs.
What else could you do to prepare your mind, body, and spirit for this truly amazing journey?