Most people have an interesting relationship with stress. They hate it, but they can’t seem to get it out of their lives. So, instead of trying to find a solution, they allow it to consume them. They give in to the idea that their life will always be full of stress and they believe that there is nothing they can do about it.
At some point, we’ve all been hit with a gigantic wave of stress which we felt didn’t do much good for us. This probably caused us to think that every kind of stress is utterly dreadful.
Sometimes stress can be a good thing.
You might be asking yourself, ‘how can it be good when it doesn’t always feel good?’
Well, it’s actually healthy to have a little bit of stress in your life. Think about the activities you do everyday like waking up, going to work or school, making an effort to spend time with the family. Sometimes we feel a tiny bit stressed by these things but remember that we need some pressure to get things done in life.
You might be wondering, ‘so when does stress become bad?’
When we allow pressure to build up inside, it has a negative effect on us. When we are way too stressed, we can’t think straight and we become less productive. When we feel helpless against it, our world soon becomes a very miserable place.
Now, you’re probably itching to ask, ‘What’s the solution?!’
The good news is that there isn’t one solution. I think there are many ways we can keep stress to a minimum in our lives and I’d like to share with you the ones I’ve found most effective. I would recommend making a note of these and sticking them on your wall, laptop, or anywhere else you can see them as a reminder. I am sure that if you make a regular practice of these methods, you will feel more in control of the stress in your life.
– You must first realise that you can control your stress. You have the ability to reduce stress in your life. Remind yourself of this every time you feel overwhelmed. It might take some time to find a way, but it is possible.
– Know your triggers. What causes you to feel stressed? (This could be certain places, people, things).
– Find out what makes you feel calmer. (This could be anything and there’s usually more than one. Hobbies, interests, activities, reading, talking to friends, doing art, nature, etc). If you’re unsure, try doing new things to find out what you like.
-Avoid negativity. Allow yourself some space from anything that takes away from the peace of your heart and mind. (This includes things or people that make you feel bad, being with people who are always complaining, insulting, backbiting, gossiping, etc).
-Make time for the things that need to be done. (Anything that needs your attention immediately, homework, projects, etc).
-Make time for the things you love. (family, friends, relaxing, hobbies, etc).
-Avoid overworking. When you need a break, take a break and refresh yourself. It will benefit you in the long run. (Perhaps have a ‘lazy day’ every once in a while, take breaks between study sessions, etc)
-Use the pomodoro technique (study for 25minutes, have a break for 5minutes, then repeat)
-Checklists (write down things you need to do, plan your day. When it’s down on paper and visible, you won’t forget it).
Prayer and meditation
-Remember to pray your 5 daily prayers. (Make this a priority).
-Practice being grateful to Allah. (Wake up and thank Allah, Say Alhamdulilah, feel grateful in your heart, appreciate the things you have, think about how you can put your blessings to good use…)
-Practice meditation. (Breathing deeply, clearing the mind, etc. There are some good apps and videos that guide you on how to focus on your breathing, helping you to reach a calm state of mind.)
-Be present in the moment. (Allow yourself to focus on one task at a time.)
-Realise that sleep is a blessing and your body needs it in order to repair and restore itself so that you can survive. Sleep is more than just closing your eyes and snoring through the night; it is an essential part of your life.
-Avoid staying up late. (Put away digital devices before going to sleep, switch off lights, finish tasks in the day, etc).
-Have a regular time to sleep and wake up.
-Wake up for fajr. (Set more than one alarm. It helps to keep the alarm at a distance from you, perhaps near your bedroom door, so that you have to leave your bed and walk to it in the morning to turn the alarm off. Since you are already up and out of bed, you can go and make wudhu to pray.) 😁
-Avoid eating things that make you feel bloated or uncomfortable (i.e. sugary, fatty, greasy, salty, spicy foods. Yes, that means cutting down on the chocolate and crisps and fizzy drinks! I once heard someone say about junk food that it lasts a ‘moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips’.)
-Eat lots of fruit and vegetables (eat them raw, baked, cooked, seasoned or in any way you fancy. You can find lots of recipes online and cooking tutorials on YouTube.)
-Drink lots of water (This helps to reduce stress and fatigue. Remember to drink water all throughout the day. Not only does it make you feel better, but you’ll also look healthier too. A healthy diet and lots of water helps to give your hair and skin a nice glow. Perhaps get a water bottle that you can carry around with you.)
-Treat yourself every once in a while. (I don’t think many of us could go on for very long without a piece of cake or a chocolate bar. It’s okay to treat yourself sometimes. Just remember that moderation is the key. Keep your health in mind.)
-Go for walks. (to school, the park, the shops, with your brother/sister/friend, etc. It allows you to clear your mind and shift your focus from work to something different.)
-You can exercise at the gym or at home. (Pilates, strength training, aerobics, cardio etc. There are many videos on Youtube that might be helpful, especially for those who would prefer to do home workouts. Be safe and have fun).
These are some things you can incorporate into your life to help reduce stress. You may have noticed that the main points of focus are the body, mind and soul. In order to have less stress, you must find a balance in these aspects. When you choose to invest time and effort into caring for your physical, spiritual and mental well-being, you will put yourself in a much better position to handle the pressures and demands of everyday life.
Remind yourself that if one technique doesn’t work for you, it’s okay; you can simply try something else. In the first few days, you may find it difficult to adjust to the new habits you’ve decided to pick up. However, within a couple of weeks, you will notice a positive difference in the way you feel.
Whatever strategy you decide to implement, be consistent with it. That’s how you will get the best results.