In order to understand a concept, one needs to have a clear definition of it. In very easy words, stress is simply a reaction to a stimulus that disturbs our physical or mental equilibrium. In psychology, stress is a feeling of strain and pressure.
Myths about Stress:
Stress is usually considered as a bad word, which isn’t true at all. There are few myths about stress which most of us firmly believe in – which aren’t true at all. Myths like: Stress is always bad for us or its effects are same for everyone or that stress is something we can do least about.
If stress is making you feel motivated and it increases performance, such stress is called EUSTRESS (literally meaning – a good stress). But if stress is making you feel uncomfortable and feelings of anxiety arise as a result – decreasing your overall performance, then such stress is called DISTRESS (which is a negative stress).
Strategies to Cope with Stress
Sometimes, we end up shouting at kids without even there being any MAJOR reason. We end up crying without knowing the trigger of our tears. We may constantly feel overwhelmed or annoyed even though everything is running smoothly around us. We are randomly grumpy and in a bad mood. People constantly ask us if we’re ok? and we constantly keep saying “I’m ok”… even though deep down inside, we feel like a volcano at the edge of bursting…The constant state of inner frustration starts to become a huge barrier amidst us and productivity – even in the most mundane life chores.
Does that sound familiar? Most of the times, there may be just ONE underlying reason! The reason that’s been buried beneath the debris of so many other reasons that you are unable to put a finger on that ONE thing! And everytime someone asks ‘what’s wrong’?, your answer is either ‘nothing’ or ‘I don’t know’…
So knowing the ebbs and flows of your Mood is essential! Knowing what triggers joy, anger, frustration, procrastination, lack of self worth, grief, Stress, worries and all the emotions that engulf our lives! Your level of personal awareness is crucial for your mental health! Knowing the cause is half of the solution.
We have discussed this in detail HERE because a cluttered mind can lead to stress in no time. If you are subscribed to AYEINA, you can download this freebie bundle by applying the free access code given in the email for some stress-free art therapy.
Stress can turn into something productive or something completely destructive. It can even turn into depression with the passage of time if constantly ignored or within certain situations. So don’t hesitate to ask for support. Isolation not only predicted higher levels of anger, but also significantly higher levels of depression. So if you constantly feel distress being a part of your life, communicate and consult. Although I haven’t done my masters in Islamic Psychology yet so I’m not qualified to be a counselor (in shaa Allah one fine day after I’m completely done with my Bachelors Degree in it), but I can definitely help as an adviser – so if you ever feel the need to reach out, don’t hesitate to contact at email@example.com 🙂
An Islamic Perspective
There are plenty of theories to cope up with stress. Being Muslims, besides taking care of physical and emotional health, we never deny the nurturing needs of our soul. But before all that, know that grief or stress is an extremely natural phenomena and there shouldn’t be any shame attached to the feeling itself.
The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) visited Sa’d bin ‘Ubadah during his illness. He was accompanied by ‘Abdur-Rahman bin ‘Auf, Sa’d bin Abu Waqqas and ‘Abdullah bin Mas’ud (May Allah be pleased with them). The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) began to weep. When his Companions saw this, their tears also started flowing. He (ﷺ) said, “Do you not hear, Allah does not punish for the shedding of tears or the grief of the heart, but punishes or bestows mercy for the utterances of this (and he pointed to his tongue).” [Bukhari & Muslim]
Having said that, our faith can be an invaluable resource to help us manage the stressors of life.
“…Distress has been written down, and what has been destined will occur ; what Allah wills will surely happen, and what He does not will will not happen. We have no power to harm or benefit ourselves…” [Abi Dawud]
“And We will surely test you with something of fear and hunger and a loss of wealth and lives and fruits, but give good tidings to the patient” [Qur’an – 2:155]
“And if Allah should touch you with adversity, there is no remover of it except Him; and if He intends for you good, then there is no repeller of His bounty. He causes it to reach whom He wills of His servants. And He is the Forgiving, the Merciful.” [Qur’an – 10:107]
“‘If you are grateful, I will surely increase you [in favor]…” [Qur’an – 14:7]
If people asked me to tell them ONE thing that can help them in their lives, I’d tell them it’s gratitude! Over and over and over! Which is why we introduced a basic gratitude journal for Muslims before all of this. Because it all starts with a grateful heart and a positive mind!
Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said: Strange are the ways of a believer for there is good in every affair of his and this is not the case with anyone else except in the case of a believer for if he has an occasion to feel delight, he thanks (God), thus there is a good for him in it, and if he gets into trouble and shows resignation (and endures it patiently), there is a good for him in it.” [Muslim]
Nothing else kills positive vibes quicker than comparison – comparing your life, looks, wealth, children, spouse, followers, success, education and what not!
Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: “Look at those who are beneath you and do not look at those who are above you, for it is more suitable that you should not consider as less the blessing of Allah.” [Ibn Majah]
3) Grab onto Hope & Husn az Zann
Jabir bin ‘Abdullah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: I heard the Prophet (ﷺ) saying three days before his death: “Let none of you die unless he has good expectations from Allah”. [Muslim]
Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said, “Allah said, ‘I am to my slave as he thinks of Me, (i.e. I am able to do for him what he thinks I can do for him). [Bukhari]
Allah does not charge a soul except [with that within] its capacity…” [Qur’an – 2:286]
When everything starts to fall apart within and around, remember that hope of khair is what keeps us all going forward. Allah is however we think of Him! So have the best of hopes and He WILL fulfill them all! The conviction of belief can be a powerful tool of will power.
Say, “O My servants who have transgressed against themselves [by sinning], do not despair of the mercy of Allah . Indeed, Allah forgives all sins. Indeed, it is He who is the Forgiving, the Merciful. [Qur’an – 39:53]
Husn az zann not only gives us a positive mindset about our Rabb but also the people around.
“The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: ‘No believing man should hate a believing woman. If he dislikes one aspect of her character, he will be pleased with another.’” [Muslim]
The Messenger of Allah said: “Whoever wishes that Allah would respond to him during hardship and grief, then let him supplicate plentifully when at ease.” [Tirmidhi]
5 Powerful Duas that remove Grief, Worries, Negativity & Stress
(according to Qur’an & Sunnah)
Following list of duas are very beneficial in the times of stress, worry, grief, negativity and anxiety etc. (the first one especially – I have personally found it really beneficial reciting it to my crying babies) – (the references have been linked inside the text (when you click them, you will be taken to the original source)).
لاَ إِلَهَ إِلاَّ اللَّهُ الْعَلِيُّ الْحَلِيمُ لاَ إِلَهَ إِلاَّ اللَّهُ رَبُّ الْعَرْشِ الْعَظِيمِ لاَ إِلَهَ إِلاَّ اللَّهُ رَبُّ السَّمَوَاتِ وَالأَرْضِ وَرَبُّ الْعَرْشِ الْكَرِيمِ
اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي أَعُوذُ بِكَ مِنَ الْهَمِّ وَالْحَزَنِ، وَالْعَجْزِ وَالْكَسَلِ، وَالْجُبْنِ وَالْبُخْلِ، وَضَلَعِ الدَّيْنِ، وَغَلَبَةِ الرِّجَالِ
5) Turn to Salaah – the coolness of eyes
“And seek help through patience and prayer, and indeed, it is difficult except for the humbly submissive [to Allah].” [Qur’an – 2:45]
Also, being in the places that remind you of Allah really helps! So you can visit mosques etc. – observe people worshiping Him, making dua (crying to Him), listen to the recitation of the imaam etc. For that re-connection with the Lord in shaa Allah.
Ubayy bin Ka’b (May Allah be pleased with him) reported:…I said: “O Messenger of Allah (ﷺ), I frequently invoke Allah to elevate your rank. How much of my supplications should I devote to you?” He said, “You may devote as much as you wish.” When I suggested a quarter, he said, “Do whatever you wish, but it will be better for you if you increase it.” I suggested half, and he said, “Do whatever you wish, but it will be better for you if you increase.” I suggested two- thirds, and he said, “Do whatever you wish but it will be better for you if you increase it.” I said, “Shall I devote all my supplications invoking Allah to elevate your rank?” He said, “Then you will be freed from your worries and your sins will be forgiven.” [Tirmidhi]
The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, “Sometimes I perceive a veil over my heart, and I supplicate Allah for forgiveness a hundred times in a day.” [Muslim]
As Omar Albach said: “when our stomach growls, we know that we are hungry. When our throat is dry, we know that we are thirsty. This ‘veil’ over our heart is what it feels for the soul to be hungry and thirsty. When you feel this, know that Allah wants to hear your voice…”
The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, “If anyone constantly seeks pardon (from Allah), Allah will appoint for him a way out of every distress and a relief from every anxiety, and will provide sustenance for him from where he expects not.” [Abu Dawud]
Aisha used to recommend at-Talbina for the sick and for such a person as grieved over a dead person. She used to say, “I heard Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) saying, ‘at-Talbina gives rest to the heart of the patient and makes it active and relieves some of his sorrow and grief.'” [Bukhari]
“Whoever is focused only on this world, Allah will confound his affairs and make him fear poverty constantly, and he will not get anything of this world except that which has been decreed for him. Whoever is focused on the Hereafter, Allah will settle his affairs for him and make him feel content with his lost, and his provision and worldly gains will undoubtedly come to him.” [Ibn Majah]
Alhamdulillah for a Muslim tries his level best, never to lose the sight of his ultimate goal. And even if he does, he knows that his doors that lead him back to the guidance and light are always whole heartedly open. And that major goal is nothing but to attain the pleasure of Allah.
Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, “Safeguard the Commandments of Allah, you will find Him before you. Remember Him in prosperity and He will remember you in adversity. Be sure that which you miss, was not to hit you; and what hits you, was never to miss you. Remember that the Help of Allah is obtained with patience, and relief emerges after distress, prosperity follows adversity, and hardship is followed by ease” [Tirmidhi]
Death – though it sounds like a concept of grief – can be an amazing tool for change of perspective. Knowing that you and everything else is temporary in this world, the worries that haunt you forever start to dissipate with their evanescent nature. Like they say…This too shall pass! in shaa Allah 🙂