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4 Ways to Beat Stress at University

25 January, 2024
Q I am a 21 old girl. I am currently in my third year at university and it’s taking a huge toll on my mental health, so much so that I have contemplated dropping out. I currently live very far from home and I have been homesick. However, my homesickness has nothing to do with missing my family and friends (not particularly), I just miss not being in university, it’s incredibly stressful; I have a part-time job which causes me extreme anxiety. I have obsessive thoughts every single day, about my job, about my weight, my friends, my studies in university. Sometimes it gets too overwhelming. I self-harm at least once a week and take great pleasure in it. I have thought about killing myself several times, sometimes it’s really overwhelming, I go through phases where I don’t see the purpose in life anymore and it really scares me. I am seeing a therapist but she is not very helpful at all, but I am too anxious to tell her I don’t want to see her anymore. What to do?



As-Salamu ‘Alaikum sister,

You are juggling a lot of responsibilities right now and, therefore, it is understandable why you feel so stressed. It has an impact on your mental health.

One of the first and most simple things you can do to overcome this is to ensure you manage your time effectively. With many things to juggle at once, it is easy to feel overwhelmed and anxious about everything and feel like dropping out, as you do. However, if you manage your time well, everything will seem a lot less overwhelming.

You might begin by creating a schedule, writing it down, and putting it somewhere you can see. Write down everything you have to do in the day and what you hope to achieve. Don’t forget to include in this some time for yourself, even if it is just 10 minutes to take a break from it all. You can do this the night before so you already have the plan in mind from the moment you start your day. It is also a way to visually see what you are achieving which can be incredibly satisfying and motivating.

Self-harm is often seen as a way of gaining control when you feel you have little control. Time management and taking a proactive approach toward your work, your studies, and life will help to inject a bit of control into your life. It may make self-harm less desirable, in sha‘ Allah.

When you are writing this plan, you could also take a couple of minutes to write down three positive things that happened in your day so you finish the day on a good note. This will also work to boost your mood and remind you of the good things in your life that you can be grateful for.

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Alhamdulilah, you are seeing a therapist which I would have suggested anyway in your situation due to your suicidal thoughts and self-harm. However, unfortunately, you don’t feel that you have been experiencing any benefit from this. You could simply tell your therapist this as it will not be of any benefit to you or her. In fact, it can be harmful to continue when you are not getting the benefits from attending.

Sometimes therapists and their clients just don’t match and this is ok; it happens. As a therapist, she should understand this too and may have even been through a similar situation before. She will be able to refer you to someone else who will be a better match for you, in sha‘ Allah. As a therapist, she will know this and know that is not in either of your best interests to continue together, except if there is a way you can resolve any issues.

It is highly recommended that you continue with this therapy, with someone else if your current therapist is not benefitting you to overcome the more intense feelings of suicide and self-harm that you have been experiencing. Therapy provides a longer term solution to your current situation.

Aside from this, ensure to keep up your five daily prayers and Islamic obligations to bring yourself some comfort in your current distressful situation. This also gives you the opportunity to step away from work and studies, both mentally and physically, and reconnect with what is most important, providing you with at least five opportunities a day, Alhamdulillah. Use these times as opportunities to ask Allah (swt) to guide you through these difficulties. This can also be a big support to improving your mental health, too.

May Allah (swt) guide you and bring you ease. May you find comfort in His remembrance.



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About Hannah Morris
Hannah Morris is a mum of 4 and she currently works as Counsellor and Instructor of BSc. Psychology at the Islamic Online University (IOU). She obtained her MA degree in Psychology and has over 10 years of experience working in health and social care settings in the UK, USA, and Ireland. Check out her personal Facebook page, ActiveMindCare, that promotes psychological well-being in the Ummah. (