Self-Help Techniques to Reduce Anxiety

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Anxiety is that very unpleasant mixture of feelings like worry, fear, nervousness and uneasiness that creeps up on you when you have an important exam coming up or perhaps a job interview.

There are many symptoms of anxiety, but some are more common than others such as:

  • Hyperventilation
  • Chest pain
  • Dizziness
  • Sweating
  • Feeling irritable
  • Restlessness
  • Feeling apprehensive.

Everyone experiences anxiety in different ways, for different reasons and on different levels. For some people, it’s a feeling that lasts for a short while- until the interview is done or the speech is over- and then passes. For others, it can seem to be a never ending battle. People who suffer from anxiety disorders experience an overwhelming amount of anxiety that can make even normal things such as talking to new people, preparing for tests, or even watching the news very difficult.

Anxiety is not something that we can just ‘stop’ at our own will; it’s an emotion that can be difficult to control. Experiencing any kind of anxiety is never pleasant and it can hold us back. However, it can be calmed down with a bit of effort.

Here are few self-help tips to help ease your anxiety.

1. Listening to the Quran:

“O mankind, there has to come to you instruction from your Lord and healing for what is in the breasts and guidance and mercy for the believers.” (10:57).

When you’re focusing on the words of Allah, you are being reminded of your purpose in this life, of the Mercy of Allah swt and how He tests the believers for the Hereafter; this in itself is relieving for our minds. Furthermore, research has proven that listening to the Quran has a very calming effect on the heart and decreases fear and nervousness regardless of your understanding of the Arabic language.

 2. The 4-7-8

This is a simple yet highly efficient breathing technique for managing anxiety and stress. When we’re anxious or stressed, our breathing quickens and can become irregular. This technique helps in bringing your breathing back to normal and changes your sympathetic response to a parasympathetic response.

  • How does it work?
  • Breathe in through your nose for 4 seconds
  • Hold your breath in for 7 seconds
  • Exhale through your mouth for 8 seconds
  • Repeat a few more times.
  • 3. Identify and challenge unhelpful thoughts.

“Guard your mind against the many negative thoughts that replay themselves. Don’t let them overpower you & steal away your peace & calm.”

–  Mufti Ismail Menk

Our thoughts have a great impact on our anxiety. Unhelpful thoughts are thoughts we have that can trigger or worsen our anxiety. There are different styles of unhelpful thinking and by identifying in what way our thoughts are unhelpful, one can learn more about themselves and can challenge these thought.

4. Keep a thoughts record.

Once you have identified your unhelpful thoughts, learn to challenge them. One incredibly helpful technique of doing so is keeping a thought record. A thought record helps the individual modify their beliefs to a more rational degree and so they become more aware of themselves.

 5. Pray.

Often when we’re anxious about something we let it build up inside of us by keeping it in, perhaps due to a fear of being misunderstood or judged by people. However, Allah swt is always near, He knows what is in our hearts already, yet He will still listen if we just speak to Him. So pray, go in sujood, and vent your heart out. Allah swt will listen and He will help.

6. Exercise.

Physical exercise is an excellent way to reduce anxiety and stress. It has multiple effects that benefit the body and mind.

Exercising eliminates hormones that cause anxiety, releases endorphins which uplift our mood and exercise can be a good and healthy distraction.

7. Get Creative!

It may sound unconventional, but immersing yourself in something creative is a great way to calm your anxiety. When you’re indulging yourself in an enjoyable creative activity, all your focus is on that particular activity and you also let your feelings and thoughts out onto your canvas, sometimes without even realizing it.

It’s also a good excuse to get started on those creative projects you may have been putting off!

Lastly, remember that “Allah does not burden a soul beyond that it can bear” (Quran 2:286)       

So whatever hardship you may be facing, remember that Allah KNOWS that you CAN face it, that you CAN get through it no matter what and we believe that you WILL. Don’t give up!

I pray that Allah swt gives us all the strength and patience to handle our affairs and makes them easy for us and forgives our sins. Aameen.

References

Abdul Hamid Madi, Muhammad. ‘The Medical Miracles Of The Holy Quran’. Islamicmedicine.org. N.p., 2015. Web. 22 Oct. 2015.
Austin, Sam. ‘The 4-7-8-Breath: How I Stopped Anxiety In It’s Tracks | Live Learn Evolve’. Live Learn Evolve. N.p., 2015. Web. 22 Oct. 2015.
Calmclinic.com,. ‘Fool-Proof Anxiety Relaxation Techniques’. N.p., 2015. Web. 25 Oct. 2015.
Psychology.tools,. ‘Unhelpful Thinking Styles / Cognitive Distortions | Psychology Tools’. N.p., 2015. Web. 22 Oct. 2015.
Docstoc, (2013). Dysfunctional Thought Record. [image] Available at: http://www.docstoc.com/docs/148466785/Dysfunctional-Thought-Record [Accessed 30 Jun. 2015].

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