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5 Steps to Reduce Anxiety & Worry


Rabbi Zidnee Ilman
“My Lord! Increase me in knowledge.”

Almost all of us suffer from anxiety and worry from time to time. Worry is actually the feeling of anxiety and unhappiness caused by a problem or thinking about something that might happen. The English word ‘worry’ is derived from the Anglo-Saxon word ‘to strangle’ or ‘to choke.’ Worry chokes out the joy of living by substituting it with fear to face the ordinary problems of human existence. Dr. John Haggai author of “how to overcome worry” describes it as:

“Worry is a potentially fatal condition and it cannot be excused as an uncontrollable condition. It’s amazing how easy it is to blame our problems on our heredity- our parents, grandparents and forebears.”

Worry kills slowly but steadily. Low self-esteem is the characteristic of a worrier. One is unable to use one’s intelligence or creativity. A person suffering from Anxiety and worry may have the following symptoms;

  • Restlessness
  • Mental disturbances
  • Headache
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Lack of confidence
  • Nail biting
  • Fidgeting
  • Lack of attention
  • Nervousness
  • Jumpy

And as a result, one is prone to high blood pressure, stomach ulcers and other medical complications. Mentally, the person is unable to think logically. Worry clogs the mind so that even routine jobs are difficult to perform. The mind is deeply troubled about something that might happen but may never happen. Worry magnifies every problem. Even a small one is blown out of proportion. Sometimes the problem is imaginary and may never happen. At other times, it has already happened and no amount of worry can undo it. Worry is a lack of trust in one’s self and in God who is able to work out every detail of human lives. Worry is unproductive. It brings no benefits.

Given below are the 5 points which can help you with relief from worry and anxiety.

  5. POISE


“And when My servants ask you concerning Me, then surely I am very near; I answer the prayer of the suppliant when he calls on Me, so they should answer My call and believe in Me that they may walk in the right way.”
{Surah Al Baqarah 2: Verse 186}

You can never under estimate the power of prayer. When a Momin makes dua Allah subhanahu wata’ala listens. You always hear pessimists saying that worry and misery is written in our fate. If Allah has written everything in the fate then why would He teach us to make dua.  Prayer has the power to change your fate.  Allah subhanahu wata’ala says the same in this Surah of the Quran;

“O you who have believed, seek help through patience and prayer. Indeed, Allah is with the patient”
{Surah Al-Baqarah 2: Verse 153}

Prayer and meditation are helpful. It is good to seek peace of mind within your religion. By focusing on God there is an interruption in the cycle of worry. When you are anxious, a great way to get out of it is to find some faith. Believing that things will get better is sometimes all it takes to make it better. It also helps to never underestimate the power of positive prayer or visualization, if it can cure cancer it can also reduce your anxiety. A person worries when he thinks, his matters are out of his control but actually when you think of it, we have no command over our matters its only Allah subhanahu wata’ala who knows all and sees all. Worries are the work of the devil especially in an empty mind. It’s clearly said in the Quran :

“Satan only wants to cause between you animosity and hatred through intoxicants and gambling and to avert you from the remembrance of Allah and from prayer. So will you not desist?”
{Surah Al Maidah 5: Verse 91}

Sicknesses like depression, anxiety and worry in general are affecting a major part of the world population regardless of the age factor. And one major cause is being tardy towards prayer.

“And whoever turns away from My remembrance – indeed, he will have a depressed life, and We will gather him on the Day of Resurrection blind.”
{Surah Taha 20: Verse 124}

So rely on Allah subhanahu wata’ala and proceed in the right direction. Those people who put their trust in Allah subhanahu wata’ala, He never lets them down. Worry takes us out of the moment and away from connecting with the way we want to move forward. We become “focused on what could happen.” Oftentimes, we find ourselves placating our anxiety. Our anxiety might drive many of our choices. In fact, our anxiety might drive our lives.

“Allah promiseth to the believers, men and women, Gardens underneath which rivers flow, wherein they will abide – blessed dwellings in Gardens of Eden. And – greater (far)! – acceptance from Allah. That is the supreme triumph.”
{Surah Al Tawbah 9: Verse 72}

This beautiful verse gives us reassurance of all the beautiful things that are to come to a believer after death. Our prophet Muhammad salallahu aleyhi wasallam used to make this dua very often

“O Allah!  I seek refuge with you from worry and grief, from incapacity and laziness, from cowardice and miserliness, from being heavily in debt and from being over powered by other men.”
[Sahih Bukhari]

Surah Ar Rehman which is rightly called “the beauty of the Quran” holds the description of some of the blessings and favors of Allah subhanahu wata’ala. And it’s repeated throughout the Surah.

“So which of the favors of your Lord would you deny? “
{Surah Ar Rehman 55: Verse 13}

Keep a gratitude journal and write in it every night. The things you were thankful for that day.  This will help you become aware of all the good that surrounds you. And similarly you can have another journal that can help you vent out your negative emotions, your worries and anxieties and how you plan on overcoming those fears. It’s a therapy suggested by doctors, “Moving your worries from your head to paper is a great stress reducer”. Part of the stress is worrying that you’ll forget what you’re worried about.” Writing it out helps you forget momentarily. It also can improve your sleep.

“Blessed is the name of your Lord, Owner of Majesty and Honor.”
{Surah Ar Rehman 55: 78}

Man is indeed very impatient.

“And whatever of blessings and good things you have, it is from Allah. Then, when harm touches you, unto Him you cry aloud for help.”
{Surah Al Nahl 16: Verse 53}

Always look towards people who are less fortunate than you rather than those who have lavish lifestyles.
Create a positive slogan for yourself and use it whenever you are feeling stressed out. Like,
“I am doing the best that I can,”
“I am a capable and resilient person,”
“I am fine just the way I am.”

Showing gratitude means praise, the requirement to rejoice. Think and act joyfully and you will feel joyful. You can control your feelings by controlling your thoughts and your actions. Stress typically strikes when we’re stuck in the past or fretting about the future. At any given moment in the day, simply stop, take a deep breath, and notice where you are, notice what is happening and take it all in.
Get in tune with your senses: Take a walk, feel the ground beneath your feet, smell the flowers in the air, listen to the birds chirping. You will decrease your anxiety and increase your joy by learning to focus on now.” Never focus on the problem. Always look for or focus on the solution.

“And He gave you from all you asked of Him. And if you should count the favor of Allah , you could not enumerate them. Indeed, mankind is [generally] most unjust and ungrateful.”
{Surah Ibrahim 14: Verse 34}

Your attitude about coping with worry and anxiety is very important. Stress is a reality for all of us. But it doesn’t have to lead to overwhelm. There are many ways to reduce the amount of stress in your life. Determine what makes you worry. Most worriers have worries around several similar themes, such as health, their job, relationships and finances. Because people see their worries as facts, it can be hard to distinguish a normal thought from a worry thought.
There are several factors by which you can rid yourself of worry,

• Anxiety will grow if it’s not directed into positive action. Find someone who needs you and lend him/her a helping hand. Practice altruism and you will have a sense of fulfillment.
• Distance yourself from depressing people. Talking to someone is one of the best ways to overcome your anxiety. Getting together with your family and friends, even your co workers, and talking about what you are feeling can be helpful.
•If watching the news fills you with anxiety – turn off the TV!
• Exercise and sports. “Do anything that allows energy to be expressed. Do what works best for you at the moment and don’t worry about breaking your normal routine, that change may actually help reduce your anxiety.
•Practice self-care. “Self-care, such as proper nutrition and adequate rest, exercise, social support and leisure activity.
Below is the list of worry triggers. Stay away from them. Also bear in mind that causes of anxiety vary from person to person.

—Fear of inability to cope with life situations like ageing, disability, accidents, illness, bereavement. There is a total lack of faith in one’s self. A worrier convinces himself that he doesn’t have the ability to handle his problems.
—Fear of rejection: He is afraid of other people’s poor estimate of him. So to avoid hurt, he shuts people out.
—Fear of challenges like decision making, changing carriers, losing weight, making or breaking relationships, or economic set-backs.
—Fear of failing to live up to the standards of this world.

Analyze the cause of your worry. Examine the problem from every angle. Confront your fears one by one. Then identify your strengths and use them to solve each problem. Human beings are unique because of God-given intelligence.

When a matter would worry the Prophet, he would raise his head up toward the sky and say:

“Glory is to Allah, the Magnificent (Subhan Allahil-Azim).”
And when he would strive in supplication; he would say:
“O the Living, O Sustainer (Ya Hayyu Ya Qayyum).”

[Narrated by Abu Hurairah, Jami at Tirmidhi 3436, book 48, hadith 67]

Majority of the chronic worriers wait until the circumstances engulfing them change. You must change the circumstances whenever possible. But happiness is not a state of becoming but a state of being. You don’t acquire happiness you assume happiness.
If you find that none of the tips above work, then you should take a serious look and consulting with a qualified therapist and physician and asking about medication. Choose to take control of your life and don’t let your fears run you.

Having a good routine, staying focused and being busy should be at the top of the list for every chronic worrier.

Being organized means having your closet, cabinets, makeup, toiletries, medicines, drawers, inventory, car, bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, basement, etc everything in proper order.  Sounds very difficult to do and it also requires time and energy. But it has a great pay-off.  Organizing helps you break down your worries. Unorganized people have stacks and piles of things which appear like garbage and it gives way to anxiety and worry.  Organizing will help you see the reality of things and will put them in proper context. It’s the quickest way to reduce the intensity of your worry or anxiety.
The more organized a person is the more he’s in-charge of his life.  Being unorganized is trait of a worrier. Half your day is spent in locating your things. Islam also teaches us organization by 5 time prayers, fasting, Zakat, Hajj.

Planning is a good thing to do when you have to tackle a million things. Whether you are student, working mom, at home mom, house wife, teacher etc, organizing helps you make several smaller plans for actions.
In case of a home maker, they worry about the smallest things in life like what to cook that day. Believe it or not ladies worry about this matter every day. Best thing to do is plan a week in advance and discuss it with your family so you can do your groceries in advance and will be calm and relaxed the following day that everything is planned and agreed upon with the resources available in the fridge.
Students worry when they have a term paper due or a class project or a final exam. This will not be as worrisome if they plan it beforehand.  Don’t postpone your work till the last minute. As this will affect the quality of your work plus you won’t be sure that you will make it in time for the deadline.
Another thing people often worry about is performances and presentations in front of peers. For school, jobs, and our social lives, we frequently have to make presentations, speak publicly, or talk to friends about something difficult. One way to reduce worry in these situations is to rehearse exactly what you are going to say and do as many times as you need to feel comfortable.
One thing people often worry about are unforeseen circumstances. Sometimes there are things happening in our lives that are out of our control, such as getting hired for a job. One way to cope with situations like these is to makes plans for different possible outcomes. Make a plan as detailed as you need to determine your course of action if you do or do not get the job, which hopefully will take away some of the worry.

Who says that only school life should have schedules. Having a schedule always pays off. It gives you a sense of direction. The problem arises when you have so much to do in so little time.  Maintain a diary. Get a “to-do list” app on your cell phone. Best way to schedule is first starting by planning a day in advance, then gradually take it to weekly, monthly and yearly.
Making resolutions at new years is a good thing to do. From there you can divide your goals or tasks by months.  Like losing weight, being fit and active.
Get associated with websites like 43things, weight watchers, livestrong etc. will keep you motivated throughout the year. Best way to keep stress at bay is to prioritize your chores.
When you wake up tomorrow start doing something right away, and keep busy all day. Taking action by doing something, almost anything, will help you work through your anxiety. Sometimes it’s doing the dishes or working in your garden. Other times it’s reading or meditating. Just sitting around and thinking about your worries won’t make them go away.

In the end it’s all about maintaining a balance. People who have poise handle situations in a better way. You can handle pressure without showing it. Staying cool and calm in dire situations makes you a steady human being. You should always have presence of mind and be self assured. Confidence and practicality is the key in becoming a composed and well organized person.
To be poised one should Meditate daily. Just 5 to 10 minutes a day is valuable aid.
When you worry your brain has to work twice as hard so it’s best that you keep your calm. You need to focus on only what you are doing rather than what you plan to do later. In that way you lose your focus and don’t even finish your current job properly.
Mindfulness is a stress relieving technique which means “getting out of your head” and “being aware of your immediate surroundings,” using all your senses. The importance of being mindful, isn’t to distract yourself. It’s to support observing your thoughts and accepting them. And learning how to keep a balance.
Here is a formula suggested by Dr. John Haggai the author of “how to win over worry”:


Cultivate calmness and peace by relaxation exercises. Each group of muscles are first tensed and then relaxed. By focusing on muscle relaxation, the cycle of worry is broken. Within a week it is possible to reduce the level of worrying.

In the end worry and anxiety can be controlled by your inner power. Believe in your ability to snap out of worry. Accept problems as a pattern of life and turn them to your advantage. Remember these famous quotes

Every problem contains the seeds of its own solution,”
“The mind that is anxious about the future is miserable.”

Thinking about all the things that could go wrong doesn’t make life any more predictable. You may feel safer when you’re worrying, but it’s just an illusion. Focusing on worst-case scenarios won’t keep bad things from happening. It will only keep you from enjoying the good things you have in the present. So if you want to stop worrying, start by tackling your need for certainty and immediate answers. Perhaps the solution to stop worrying is condensed in Reinhold Neibuhr’s prayer.

“Grant me the strength to change the things that need changing, the courage to accept things that cannot be changed, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Authored by Humira Adnan Agha
Edited by Nuzhat Shaikh 

Prophet Muhammad ﷺ - "Convey (knowledge) from me even if it is just one ayah" [Bukhari 3461]

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