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September. For many of us the start of a new academic year, the start of new jobs, and an increase of stress after relaxing holidays and breaks. Stress is a natural part of life, however when faced with a difficult situation or excessive demands placed on our physical or mental energy, stress can reach inappropriate levels and can be especially difficult to deal with. There should be no shame associated with a Muslim experiencing stress, it certainly does not mean one is lacking faith, nor should it be seen as a marker of a bad Muslim. In fact, stressful situations give one opportunities to achieve closeness to our faith and to Allah (swt).

One method of stress reduction is to pray. Prayer helps us calm down and takes our minds off the stressful situations for a while. We get so busy with our studies, and work, we forget that salah was a blessing for us to take that step back, and remind ourselves of our true purpose in life. Do not let your busy lifestyle make salah a ritualistic duty, it is much more than that and it is somewhere we can find solace. Not only that but prayer increases our connection to Allah, when we speak to him about our problems, it is then understood that He is the one who ultimately will help us to solve them and that we trust Him therefore some of the weight of our stresses should be lifted from upon us after we pray.

Similarly, it’s important to remember that the events in our life are all part of Allah’s plan, and so when we feel stressed, although it is natural, we have to keep in mind that in the end He knows what’s best for us. Accepting the Qadr (destiny), Allah can bring round a sense of contentment, but we have to take the first step in order to feel that sense of peace within our chests. We should develop the skill to be content with what is and what is to come. Additionally, as Allah says in the Quran, “with every hardship comes ease” (94:6), even though at the present time you may be feeling stressed, again be content with what is happening and wait for that ease to arrive.

There are also other methods one can use to de-stress and we are not limited to just Islamic solutions as even Islam itself recommends a well-rounded approach to problems. We can establish a routine of low stress levels through structure, organisation and planning to reduce times when we may feel overloaded or overworked, especially in regards to one’s work or education. Additionally by implementing healthy eating practices and exercises which will not only help increase our endorphins (happy hormones) but also ensure we are getting the required nutrients to keep our minds and bodies healthy.

To participate in #CopingWithEducation check out our Facebook page and share your coping mechanisms with the rest of the community for us all to benefit and reap in the rewards.

We wish you all the success for the new year and leave you with a hadith to reflect upon:

“Trust Allah but tie your camel”

Jamilla Hekmoun

Jamilla is a final year undergraduate studying Arabic and Middle Eastern Studies and Vice President of the Islamic Society at the University of Exeter. After being diagnosed with anxiety and depression, she is keen on improving the understanding of mental health conditions within Muslim communities. Follow her on Twitter @JamillaTweets.

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