- This post does not give medical advice.
- This post is intended for Muslims who benefit from spirituality as a means of reducing stress and have a positive mind.
- Mental health challenges aren’t due to a lack of faith or tawakkul.
- This post talks about trust in Allah and dua, as means of connecting with God so as to reap the positive effects of that connection on the mind. This doesn’t imply that someone who struggles with mental health doesn’t do the above.
- Everyone is different and might find different actions helping with staying positive and dealing with a tense situation.
- This post just provides a roadmap for reducing stress and keeping ourselves mentally healthy so we may not succumb to the stress which we all are facing nowadays during the Coronavirus pandemic.
- If you are struggling with mental health and need professional help, please contact a licensed professional.
The current Covid-19 pandemic is affecting the whole world in many different ways. The world economy is in turmoil. People are losing their jobs or businesses. Many are becoming sick or dying. Others are at risk of getting affected. These are stressful times indeed and they have brought changes to our lives in many different capacities. One of them is our mental health.
Importance of Mental Health
Just as physical health is necessary for our daily functioning, similarly mental health is necessary for a fulfilling and normal life. And in the current difficult times, we should take care of it. Although now, people are much more aware of mental health issues and how it is okay to admit struggles with mental health and seek help for it. But this need of mental health awareness is heightened during a time of crisis.
Another contributor to overall stress is how we have to stay indoors and limit our social interaction which is a big part of our support system. This also remind us of the story of Hazrat Yunus A.S. as well.
The markets and public places are empty. In many countries, there are lockdowns and restrictions on movement to help prevent the spread of the virus.
Who is More Susceptible?
Centre for Disease Control, US, lists down the people who might respond strongly to stress in the current situation.
- Older people and people with chronic diseases who are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19
- Children and teens
- People who are helping with the response to COVID-19, like doctors, other health care providers, and first responders
- People who have mental health conditions including problems with substance use
Now we know that current times can cause mental health issues then what should we do about it? Some of the steps that you can take to keep yourself psychologically healthy are as follows.
Dua is the weapon of the believer. And in times of uncertainty, we should stick to making dua more than ever. Talk to Allah about your concerns, for the safety, health, and khyr, for yourself and your whole family.
قَالَ رَبُّكُمُ ادْعُونِي أَسْتَجِبْ لَكُمْ
And your Lord says, “Call upon Me; I will respond to you.”Surah Ghafir: 60
Research shows that when we pray or do dhikr it leads to hypofrontality i.e. decreases activity in frontal lobes and this, in turn, can lead to “therapeutic effect in certain mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).“
Take All Precautions
Take all the necessary precautions which are prescribed by your national health organization. Wash hands with soap, use hand sanitizer, mask and limit outside exposure. This is necessary because you want to not only save yourself but also all other people by being a responsible human being.
While some Muslims see this as against tawakkul by using phrases like: ‘Whatever Allah has decreed will happen so why should we worry or take precautions’. Here is the thing though. Having tawakkul and taking all precautions aren’t mutually exclusive as we know by the following hadith:
Anas ibn Malik reported: A man said, “O Messenger of Allah, should I tie my camel and trust in Allah, or should I leave her untied and trust in Allah?” The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Tie her and trust in Allah.”Sunan al-Tirmidhī 2517
Have Trust on Allah (Tawwakkul)
When you have prayed and did what you could practically do, then you have to trust Allah that He will protect you and your family. Things become extremely hard without tawakkul because you can worry irrationally about one thing or the other. When you practice tawakkul, you put everything in Allah’s hand. Although it is human nature to worry but with tawakkul, we are better equipped to handle that worry.
وَعَلَى اللّهِ فَتَوَكَّلُواْ إِن كُنتُم مُّؤْمِنِينَ
And in God you must place your trust if you are [truly] believers!”Al-Maidah 5:23
Stay Connected to Loved Ones
Spend time with your family at home. Do little activities together. Share your stories, dream, aspirations. Eat meals together as it is proven scientifically that having meals together reduces stress of daily living.
Having a good social circle to interact with is necessary for a sane mind. You can keep in touch with friends and family through messaging or video calls. Humans are social animals and it is these social connections that help you through these rough times. Also, ask your friends and family about how they are doing and help them if they need so.
Also Read: Giving Makes you Happier and Healthier
In a hadith Prophet PBUH said:
The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: “… keeping the ties of kinship encourages affection among the relatives, increases the wealth, and increases the lifespan.”Tirmidhi: 1979
Health & Excercise
Exercise is definitely one way to cope with stress because exercise relieves stress. Happy hormones are released in the body when we exercise. In this situation though, you should prefer to exercise at home or in an open space while practicing social distancing and taking other precautions.
The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: “The strong believer is better and more beloved to Allah than the weak believer..”Ibn Majah: 83
For Those Who are Struggling With Mental Health…
If you are a mental health patient, keep in touch with your psychiatrist or therapist and act on their guidance.
If you feel your mental health is deteriorating and you need professional support then in the current scenario you can even schedule online sessions with a mental health practitioner. Remember, there is no shame in admitting that you need help and you should deploy the available resources to help your mind become healthier.
May Allah keep us all safe and may the current hard times end soon. Ameen.
Newberg, A. B., Wintering, N. A., Yaden, D. B., Waldman, M. R., Reddin, J., & Alavi, A. (2015). A case series study of the neurophysiological effects of altered states of mind during intense Islamic prayer.Journal of Physiology – Paris, 109, 214-220.