Lowering Your Stress Level (Islamic Version)

Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh

Whomsoever Allah (s.w.t) guides, no one can misguide; and whomsoever Allah (s.w.t) misguides no one can guide.

Muslims all over the world are under stress; whether it may spawn from civil war, violence, spousal abuse, economic problems, etc. Today in sha’ Allah, we will go over a number of tips that in sha’ Allah helps us lower our stress level. If stress is continuous, it may cause negative effects on your mind, body, and soul. One study showed that 77% of Americans suffer from regularly experiencing physical symptoms caused by stress.

We will be going over a number of different methods concerning how we can relieve stress (using authentic evidences from the Sunnah). The first is to exercise regularly. Many people mistake exercise for working out in a gym but in reality, exercise is any activity that increases your heart rate.

Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) was reported to walk in a fast pace. Ali raḍyAllāhu ‘anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) described Muhammad’s ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) way of walking:

“When he walked, he lifted his leg with vigour. He did not drag his feet on the ground like women do. When he walked, because of the speed and force of the legs, it seemed as if he was descending from a high place.”

[Tirmidhi]

In another hadith about the Prophet ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), Abu Hurairah raḍyAllāhu ‘anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) narrated that:

“I did not see anyone walk faster than him, as if the earth folded for him. A few moments ago he would be here, and then there. We found it difficult to keep pace when we walked with him, and he walked at his normal pace.”

[Tirmidhi]

The second advice is to eat well. Most people do not realize, food can affect stress levels. Foods such as fast foods, butter, cheese, meat, shellfish, sugar, tea, coffee, and soft drinks have been found to increase stress levels. This does not mean you have to avoid them, but instead consume in moderation.

Remember that Allah subḥānahu wa ta’āla (glorified and exalted be He) says:

“…And eat and drink, but be not excessive. Indeed, He likes not those who commit excess.”

[Chapter 7, Verse 31]

The third advice is to sleep well. Sleep is a vital part of our lives. Scientists have proven in order to reduce stress, a person has to meet a certain amount of required sleeping hours (sleeping releases specific hormones which relieve stress). The desired amount of sleep should be between 7 to 9 hours nightly.

The best quality sleep occurs in the early part of the night, which is in accordance with the Sunnah of the Prophet ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) who advised us to sleep right after ‘Isha.

Sleeping around 9-10 pm makes it easier to wake up for Fajr. However, if you happen to wake up in the middle of the night and cannot fall back asleep, get up and pray tahajjud. Also if you get chance, take a short power nap after Dhuhr.

Another advice is to take advantage of free time. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) enjoyed himself when he had time to spare. Times of competing in foot races with his wives. Simply relaxing, reading Qur’an, listening to a lecture, or reading any Islamic book.

This way, you increase your knowledge and faith. When you learn about of the struggles the Sahabah made for their religion or how difficult it was for them initially to pray five times in a day, a person can easily see that their struggle is small compared with that of our Prophet ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) and his sahabah.

I read an article where a sister mentioned that she had a special place in her house where nobody is allowed to disturb her, not even her children. She went there everyday for some time to praise Almightily Allah subḥānahu wa ta’āla (glorified and exalted be He) as if she was in a cave.

Having a similar dhikr zone in your own house is an excellent way to make time to connect with Allah subḥānahu wa ta’āla (glorified and exalted be He) and enjoy some peaceful moments.

Allah subḥānahu wa ta’āla (glorified and exalted be He) says in the Qur’an:

“…and seek from the bounty of Allah, and remember Allah often that you may succeed.”

[Chapter 62, Verse 10]

An advice that I took upon myself was to manage my time well. If you manage your time properly, making sure your day revolves around your prayers instead of your prayers revolving around your day; this will make it so the remembrance of Allah (s.w.t) comes first.

If boredom is the reason for your stress, simply use that time for learning or understanding verses of the Qur’an, or try to memorize it.

Ibn Abbas raḍyAllāhu ‘anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) narrated that Prophet Mohammad ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said:

“There are two blessings which many people lose: (They are) Health and free time for doing good.”

[Bukhari]

The last advice is to be content with what you have. Most of us are not satisfied with what we have. Remember that there are people dealing with harder situations; some are homeless, jobless, or without children.

In worldly matters, look to those below you to be humbled, while in religious matters look to those above you to get inspired to reach a higher level of taqwa.

You must always be thankful for what Allah subḥānahu wa ta’āla (glorified and exalted be He) granted you. You might think that what you want is better for you but He knows what is truly best for you. Allah subḥānahu wa ta’āla (glorified and exalted be He) might be giving you what you need or He may be testing your iman so that you may call upon Him and increase in piety.

The path you are on is the right one for you, even if you cannot see that right now.

Stress cannot solve your problems, but it only causes more, especially to your health and social life. So, be happy with what you have, be patient, try to do your best and ask Allah subḥānahu wa ta’āla (glorified and exalted be He) for guidance.

Allah subḥānahu wa ta’āla (glorified and exalted be He) said:

“So remember Me; I will remember you. And be grateful to Me and do not deny Me.”

[Chapter 2, Verse 152]

In reality, it is difficult to avoid all sources of stress as we encounter an abundance of situations on a daily basis, but do not let stress control your life. Try to make a little time everyday for your health and well-being, as they are blessings from Allah subḥānahu wa ta’āla (glorified and exalted be He).

In sha’ Allah, these advises are received well. They are just as much for me, as they are for you.

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