Eating Disorders Hajj/Umrah Guide Part 1: Tips for Managing Pre Travel Hajj/Umrah Anxiety




Eating Disorders Hajj/Umrah Guide Part 1: Top Tips for Managing Pre

Travel Hajj/Umrah Anxiety



As Dr. Katharina Star at Very Well Mind notes, travel can be a major trigger for anxiety and panic attacks. “If you have panic disorder, panic attacks and anxiety-related symptoms might keep you from traveling. Being in new and strange places, away from the safety of your home, can make you feel insecure. Additionally, you may be afraid of others witnessing your fear and nervousness.”

Mental health doesn’t have to be a barrier to enjoying a trip away, as long as you plan ahead so you’re well prepared should you feel unwell.


Dear Readers,


Please find below Part 1 of our Hajj/Umrah series. This series comes highly requested and though we did cover this topic in 2014, it wasn’t covered as extensively as it should have been covered.  Hajj and Umrah are two significant religious pilgrimages in Islam.  People suffering from Eating Disorders also suffer from anxiety. Research shows that travel provokes anxiety in most people. We have put together a series where we will be sharing Pre Travel Tips, Safety Tips and Food Tips. Inshallah we pray this guide will help you on your journey to the holiest of the holiest places on this earth.  Expand your consciousness; break free from the prison of your Eating Disorder.  A path of inner transformation shown to humanity since the times of our father Prophet Ibrahim as. Don’t let anything hold you back. This is one place where even the demon of Eating Disorder becomes weak. Heal and Transform in the House of Allah Restore your spirit in the city of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (saw,) you deserve it.



If you are suffering from an Eating Disorder or in recovery and feeling very anxious about embarking on pilgrimage to Hajj/Umrah, or traveling just makes you feel a little more on edge than usual, then you are not alone, you could be experiencing a travel anxiety. Travel anxiety is when a person feels anxious when they travel or may avoid travelling due to fear surrounding this. Those with already present anxiety disorders may find that travelling exacerbates or triggers the anxiety symptoms. The main causes of travel anxiety include interacting with other people, lack of support, wayfinding and buying tickets.


As Dr. Katharina Star at Very Well Mind notes, travel can be a major trigger for anxiety and panic attacks. “If you have panic disorder, panic attacks and anxiety-related symptoms might keep you from traveling. Being in new and strange places, away from the safety of your home, can make you feel insecure. Additionally, you may be afraid of others witnessing your fear and nervousness.”




When you have anxiety, what seems like a trip of lifetime to other people may leave you stressed and overwhelmed.  Travel can also be stressful, not just in the planning stages but also during the journey itself and adapting to a new environment on arrival. Consideration of your mental wellbeing during travel is as important as your physical health. Fortunately, there are ways to manage your symptoms; we’ve put together a guide to help you through your journey.


Here are few tips to help you before you embark on a journey of life time to Makka and Medina for Hajj/Umrah.




Prepare in Advance


One way to manage these experiences is to plan ahead as much as possible. Usually people travel to Hajj/Umrah with a group and loved ones.  Get to know your itinerary. Make a list of the places you’re staying, including addresses and phone numbers. Take a careful look at an itinerary for each day so you know what to expect and where you need to be at certain times. When your trip is organized, you’ll feel more in control and less stressed.


Keep up to date details for your emergency contacts and be sure to fill them in in the back of your passport. It’s also a good idea to keep contact details for any supportive friends or family you want to be informed should your health deteriorate at any point during your trip.

Try to make a note of the location of any medical facilities in the area you’re visiting and how to access them, as having this information to hand could save valuable time if you need them.


Understand why you are going

In the religion of Islam, there is tremendous wisdom and beauty behind every obligation and ritual. Therefore, before you head to the birth city of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), spend some time doing research about the benefits of embarking on the journey of pilgrimage and learn the history and importance of the holy sites that you will get a chance to visit.


Discuss your Plans with your Physician/Treatment Team


Consult your doctor/treatment team at least 3 months before your journey to assess your health situation,, so they can guide you accordingly and it’s best to have someone from the team to stay virtually in touch with you in case of emergency.


If you are in treatment it will be helpful to dedicate sessions with therapists and dietitians etc to plan in advance how to manage triggers and what to eat .  It may be a good idea to bring a relative friend to the sessions with you.






Increase physical activity before your travels

Hajj is strenuous on the mind and body, even for healthy and fit adults. It requires a lot of walking and those who regularly engage in physical activities may find it easier to complete the pilgrimage. Depending on the location of your hotel, you may walk up to 2 kilometres to and from the mosque during each prayer time. 

On top of that, you will also have to perform Tawaf (circling the Kaaba 7 times) and Sa’i (walking between the hills of Safa and Marwah 7 times) which are roughly 7 kilometres long in total.

Before leaving for the holy city, take as many walks as possible daily to build your stamina and physical fitness. Aim for at least 30 minutes of walking or moderate exercise every day. Please discuss your physical program with your treatment team or your physician..


Speak to Imam/Scholar/Teacher


It is also advised to talk to an Islamic scholar about how to perform the holy pilgrimage. I highly recommend you set aside a meeting with a teacher or Imam from the mosque who can guide you through how to correctly perform Hajj and Umrah. With the right education you can spiritually and mentally wire your mindset prior to your trip. In addition to the educational course, speak with family and friends who have already completed the pilgrimage to gain some practical insight on what to expect whilst you complete yours.


Minimize Risk


For many people with an vacation anxiety, feeling unsafe is a serious trigger. Traveling takes you out of your comfort zone, which can bring on feelings of stress and panic. Traveling often means dealing with the unexpected, but there are ways to reduce risk.

If you’re worried about getting sick on your trip, purchase some travellers insurance that includes medical coverage. Concerned about losing your identification or your passport? Keep backup copies of your important documents in a secure space in your luggage.




Pack Comforts from Home


Pack your favorite Prayer Mat, Tasbih, blanket or pillow case so you can snuggle up with everyday scents and textures.



Travel with a Support Person

If possible, try to travel with a supportive friend or loved one. Solo travel can be a challenge, having a trusted travel buddy who knows your condition gives you someone to talk to when you feel panicked or stressed and agree beforehand on what is most helpful.  It is important to have these conversations long before the journey.



Keep up The Enthusiasm



This is the center of Islam, and the Ka’bah signifies a place of unity for Muslims irrespective of background or race. The incredible diversity of people journeying far and wide is a sight to behold.


Life-Enhancing, life transforming Spiritual Retreat, keep up the positive vibes by watching live Makka and Medina coverage.  You are going to the house of Allah, the city of angels, your nights and days will be filled with love and light and you’ll be immersing yourself in a pool of blessings. Watch the motivating travel vlogs and speak to people who will keep you motivated and focused.  Imagine the finishing line, when you complete your pilgrimage, you’ll be returning as a completely new you.  This trip is your Right, DO not let anything get in your way especially the Demon of Eating Disorder.


The Hajj – The Journey

By Him whose House the loving pilgrims visit,
Responding with ihram at the appointed limit,
Uncovering their heads in total humility
Before One to Whom faces bow in servility.
They exclaim in the valleys, “We have responded to You –
All Praise is Yours, and Kingdom too!”
He invited and they answered, with love and pleasure;
When they called upon Him, nearer came the Divine treasure.
You see them on their mounts, hair dusty and dishevelled,
Yet never more content, never happier have they felt;
Leaving homelands and families due to holy yearning,
Unmoved are they by temptations of returning.
Through plains and valleys, from near and far,
Walking and riding, in submission to Allah.

by Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah



Part 2 We will talk about Safety Tips




About Author

Islam and Eating Disorders founded in 2012 – run by Maha Khan, the blog creates awareness of Eating Disorders in the Muslim world, offers information and support for sufferers and their loved ones.

1 Comment

  1. Thank you for sharing such an insightful and important article on managing pre-travel Hajj and Umrah anxiety in individuals with eating disorders. As someone who has struggled with an eating disorder myself, I truly appreciate the attention you have given to this topic and the specific challenges it poses for those embarking on religious pilgrimages.

    One of the most commendable aspects of your article is the recognition that eating disorders are complex mental health conditions that require a holistic approach to treatment and support. It is crucial to address the emotional, psychological, and physical aspects of these disorders, especially when individuals are preparing for significant events like Hajj and Umrah.

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