DISCLAIMER: These tips are not meant to be used as a substitute for professional help.
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May Allah grant you ease. Ameen
There is no doubt that we all experience some degree of stress and pressure at some point in our lives, if not on a daily basis. Recent studies have shown that the number of those experiencing stress and being diagnosed with anxiety has risen in recent year, and those figures have increased dramatically since the onset of the pandemic.
The very start of the pandemic was unequivocally the most challenging for me. Like a lot of people around the globe, I suddenly found myself with a full household, surrounded with people and chaos, and having to homeschool my children, something which I had never done before. This increased my levels of anxiety to a great degree. I was overwhelmed with to-do lists. I had to figure out how to do unfamiliar skills, and I struggled to keep up with it all. My perception as a parent became very negative; I felt like I was a bad mother and I was failing in every way. I couldn’t and wouldn’t stop comparing myself to other mums. It seemed like every parent and generally everyone was coping better than me. Most days, I had to push myself and muster the strength to go out with the kids for a walk. I was so exhausted and worn out with negative thoughts racing through my mind. In an attempt to get my worries and fears under control, I decided to seek help for all the burdens that were weighing me down: I made the decision to reconnect with Allah wholeheartedly. As Allah mentions in the Qur’an:
Indeed God will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves. (Qur’an 13:1)
I had to be willing to and do my best to make positive changes within myself even if small. The above verse confirms that Allah will always make a way for us if we can make changes within ourselves. So below, I have compiled a list of things that have helped me to deal with my anxiety and daily pressures of life that I was experiencing:
1. Have a good opinion of Allah
The first step I took on this journey that really helped me to manage my anxiety was having firm faith that Allah wants only what is best for us. He doesn’t want us to exprience hardship, but ease. Therefore he wants us to turn to Him in every situation even when the feeling of hopelessness arises. The Prophet ﷺ reported a hadith which says:
Allah says, “I am as My servant thinks I am. I am with him when he makes mention of Me. If he makes mention of Me to himself, I make mention of him to Myself; and if he makes mention of Me in an assembly, I make mention of him in an assembly better than it. And if he draws near to Me an arm’s length, I draw near to him a cubit, and if he draws near to Me a cubit, I draw near to him a fathom. And if he comes to Me walking, I go to him at speed.”
That is to say, if we have a positive attitude towards our faith and our perception of Allah, our hope in Him increases. Through this, I began to notice the good things in my life.
2. Hasten to worship, hasten to success
We hear this in the daily adhan five times a day. Five times a day, we are reminded that success is not anywhere else except in our daily prayers. Once I really internalised this, I decided that if performing all my obligatory prayers was all that I had accomplished at the end of the day then I would be proud of myself because it is in these prayers which is the beginning of our main purpose for existence. In his book ‘Allah Loves’, Sheik Omar Suleiman also states that Allah loves that we prioritise our prayers. He loves that we show Him we are longing for Him and are seeking comfort in our prayers, and this is a message that is evident throughout the Qur’an and Sunnah:
Abu Huraira reported that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “The first action for which a servant of Allah will be held accountable on the Day of Resurrection will be his prayers. If they are in order, he will have prospered and succeeded.”
I did not create mankind and jinn except to worship me. (Qur’an 51:56)
Abdullah Ibn Mas’ud asked the Prophet, “What is the most beloved action to Allah?”, the Prophet answered, “Prayer on time.”
3. Practise remembrance of Allah
Allah has promised us peace when we consistently remember Him.
Verily in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find peace. (Qur’an 13:28)
A good way that helps me to do this is by doing dhikr, remembrance of Allah. I observe dhikr at any time of the day even whilst doing house chores or whilst having a cuppa. I do this through the fingers of the hand or by using prayer beads to utter praises or glorifications of Allah that is saying SubhanAllah thirty three times, Alhamdulillah thirty three times, Allahu Akbar thirty three times, la ilaaha illa Allahu thirty three times.
Other ways I use to remember Allah is by making dua or by learning or reciting His beautiful names.
4. Seek His forgiveness
I found that seeking Allah’s forgiveness consistently, on a daily basis, was providing me great relief and it put me in a more peaceful place. The Prophet ﷺ used to do Istighfar (saying Astaghfirullah) at least one hundred times a day. A supplication which carries so many benefits and virtues, one of which is to relieve us of fears or worries. It also keeps us from committing sins or wronging others since we are more focused on making ourselves better.
Ibn Abbas reported: The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “Whoever increases his prayers for forgiveness, Allah will grant him relief from every worry, a way out from every hardship, and provide for him in ways he does not expect.”
5. When you seek refuge in Him, let everything else go
I have recently learnt that in asking Allah for His protection over our worries and fears, we hand ourselves completely over to Him. We may still experience the same worries and fears but they become less overwhelming the more we stay connected to Allah subhana wa ta’ala. So, I realised that when I seek His refuge, I should completely let go of doubt, let it prevail because Allah will take care of it as He has promised us.
Abu Sa’id al-Khudri reported: The Messenger of Allah ﷺ entered the mosque one day while a man from the Ansar named Abu Umamah was there. The Prophet said, “O Abu Umamah, what is the matter that I see you sitting in the mosque while it is not time for prayer?” He said, “O Messenger of Allah, I am compelled by anxiety and debts.” The Prophet said, “Shall I not teach you a word to say by which Allah Almighty will relive your worry and complete your debt?” He said, “Of course, O Messenger of Allah.” The Prophet said, “Say in the morning and evening: O Allah, I seek refuge in you from worry and sadness. I seek refuge in you from weakness and laziness. I seek refuge in you from cowardice and miserliness. And I seek refuge in you from being overwhelmed by debt and the tyranny of men.”
6. Allow the Qur’an to be your solace
On top of the rewards we attain for reciting it, the Qur’an itself is a source of guidance and truth. By reading it and immersing ourselves in its teachings, we can find the answers we seek while we read and reflect on the Qur’an. It is after all, one of the methods and means by which Allah Subhana wa ta’ala converses with us. When it is used regularly if not daily, the Qur’an is a source of comfort and healing. Allah says:
A book We sent down to you (Muhammad) so that you may bring forth mankind from darkness into the light. (Qur’an 14:1)
Therefore, it is fitting that the Qur’an is the place to turn to for guidance and solace. It is the light we seek in the darkness of life.
7. Practise gratitude
There are plenty of studies that show the general benefits of practicing gratitude. But our faith has also always encouraged us to be thankful to Allah for all that he has given us. There is always joy to be found in all circumstances. I found that focusing on even the littlest things allowed me to look on the brighter side of life, and through this gratitude, more blessings to be grateful for were laid out on my path by Allah.
If you are grateful, I will give you more. (Qur’an 14:7)
8. Believe that with Allah you can
Allah has told us that He is closer to us than our jugular vein. He fashioned us in the best form. Furthermore, He has mentioned several times in the Qur’an to ask from Him and that He does not want us to experience hardship. Therefore I decided to accept that I was not being arrogant or selfish by putting myself first to perform actions that Allah loves or to expect Allah to help me even if it is to make things easy for me.
Believing without a doubt that Allah is forgiving and merciful and acting in the right way with a positive mindset completely changed my outlook on life. Allah truly wants us to turn to Him for every situation in our lives especially in the most challenging of times and I felt that by putting Allah first, reaching out to Him with hope and expecting the best from Him, I was becoming better at managing my anxiety.
Allah loves those who are grateful
In constant remembrance of Him
Their hearts come to be peaceful
Their lives purposeful
Allah has said
“Those are the successful.”
I pray that May Allah make it easy for all those who are going through hardships. Ameen