Sometimes issues get stuck in my mind and I have pessimistic and negative approach to things that make me restless and anxious. I cannot live in the present thinking and fearing about future, disease, failures and death that all bring a gloomy picture to me.
Please suggest me some strategy in the light of Islam to cope up with these issues.
In this counseling answer:
• Reframe your perception of the trauma.
• Ask yourself how likely is this to actually happen when worrying.
• Remind yourself it is all the will of Allah (swt).
• Find 3 positive coping skills that can help you during emotional moments.
Assalamu alaikum wa Rahmatullah wa Barakatu,
Thank you for writing into us with your struggles. It is my understanding you have a history of trauma, struggle with frequent anxiety and want to learn effective coping skills that include your faith. Please take comfort in knowing that you can inshallah move forward with more positivity in your life.
I myself have an extensive trauma history and I am prone to anxiety, but I have learned how to turn that around and I am happy to share those skills.
To begin with, brother lets change your cognitive framework surrounding the past trauma. To put it simply, change your perception of the past and it will change how it affects you now. Think about what happened to you and how you can learn from it. What did it teach you? What did it make you grateful for?
Let me give you a personal example. My first husband was not kind to me and hurt me very much. Instead of dwelling on that or letting it ruin my future, it makes me more grateful for the good and kind husband I currently have because I know what an abusive marriage feels like.
Alhamdulillah, I appreciate my husband so much more because of that and my first marriage made me stronger as a woman. I am grateful for that prior pain because of the woman and wife it made me become.
Think about your past trauma and try to see how you can change it from hardship to a lesson. Perhaps it will make you a better Father or a man with more mercy in his heart for others.
In the simplest form, anxiety is living in the future instead of the present. Some anxiety can be healthy, such as before a big test at school or a job interview. However, when it is pessimistic and negative it has become destructive. Whenever you begin to focus on worrying about the future, remember something, brother. Everything is by the will of Allah (most honored, most revered) and duaa is a powerful weapon you can always wield.
Allah (swt) will put in your path what is best for you. Even if it is a hardship, it can have great merit to it. You may not be able to understand why, but rely upon Allah (swt) and trust in that destiny. Make frequent duaa, no matter where you are. Use duaa to calm yourself and remind yourself that it is all by his will.
“And your Lord says, “Call upon Me; I will respond to you…” [Quran 40:60]
During those moments when you are thinking about disease and death, as you mentioned, ask yourself a simple question. How likely is it that this will really happen? The answer is not very likely at all. Granted we never know when we will die or be struck with sickness, but this is an irrational fear. Most likely, inshallah, you will be just fine.
You can implement coping strategies during those moments when you feel high anxiety. Coping skills are unique to each person. What works for me might not work for you. For example, holding my cats and petting them is one of my coping skills to calm anxiety but for someone who doesn’t love cats, this won’t work.
Let’s look at some coping skills from the Quran first.
“O you who have believed, seek help through patience and prayer. Indeed, Allah is with the patient.” [Quran 2:153]
We are being told to remain steadfast with patience and prayer during hard times. This aligns with making frequent duaa and you can implement voluntary prayers. If you are able, slip away to a private room and pray two voluntary rakkahs. Then sit and talk to Allah (swt) about your struggles. This will take up only 5 minutes of your time, but inshallah it can greatly help.
To increase your patience and remembrance of Allah (swt), practice dhikr (remembrance of Allah). The act of repeating a word/phrase gives our mind something to focus on which helps us calm down.
The counting of that phrase whether with our hands or prayer beads helps us increase our patience.
In secular psychology, they may encourage someone to take deep breaths and count to four, (you can do this as well) dhikr uses the same concept except you are speaking about Allah (swt) and counting those words.
“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”. [Quran 10:57]
In this verse, Allah (swt) is telling us that the Quran is an instrument of healing for our hearts and gives us guidance. Use that during your moments of high anxiety or feeling bad. Recite Quran, read Quran, listen to Quran or even just think about Quran verses silently in your head. The more you connect yourself to the Quran, inshallah the more it can heal your heart and guide you.
Check out this counseling video:
Here are 10 other examples of positive coping skills. Feel free to try any of these and come up with your own that align with you personally.
1. Nature walks
4. Petting animals
5. Creating artwork
7. Focus on something nearby you can see that is beautiful such as a flower or a painting on the wall, take a moment to appreciate it
8. If near something that smells nice, take a deep breath through your nose and enjoy the scent. Remain in that area focusing on the scent until you feel calm again.
9. Close your eyes and visualize your happy place. This could be on a beach, in bed or anywhere that makes you feel happy.
10. Talk to a friend or family member about how you feel. You can use texting for this or in person.
Try to find three coping skills that work for you and employ them whenever you are struggling emotionally. If you try one and it does not help, no problem, try something else. As mentioned previously, what works for one person may not for another.
Here is a summary of your steps moving forward, brother.
- Reframe your perception of the trauma.
- Ask yourself how likely is this to actually happen when worrying.
- Remind yourself it is all the will of Allah (swt).
- Find 3 positive coping skills that can help you during emotional moments.
The simple act of writing into us displays your willingness to seek out help and use it. This is a great step forward. Keep seeking help from Allah (swt) and utilize the above-mentioned skills. If you find it is difficult to implement these or your struggles escalate, reach out to a professional counselor in person or online to help you on this journey of healing.
May Allah (swt) heal your heart and make it easy on you,
Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, its counselors or employees be held liable for any damages that may arise from your decision in the use of our services.