Anxiety is a feeling of unease and worry which can make you feel as if you are drowning in a sea of never-ending problems. Despite feeling powerless, you realise that you can regain control of your life and your anxiety. We all have anxiety and problems, but when it overwhelms you or takes over your life, something needs to be done. Overwhelming anxiety is where every instant is viewed in the worst possible way which can lead to mental and physical problems. It can impact on your productivity and hinder your performance at work.
Identify initial signs of Anxiety
To do this you need to pay attention to your mind and body during calm and stressful times. When things are going great, what thoughts go through your mind? What do you tend to say to yourself during those times? You might be able to feel the ease in your muscles and notice the rate of your pulse. Compare this to times when you are struggling. Perhaps your thoughts tend to be more negative or you’re more critical of yourself.
Accept that Anxiety levels go up and down
When you are overcome with worry and anxiety, you may feel as though things will never get better. Many people experience panic attacks during which they literally feel as though they are dying. The feeling of your chest constricting, your breathing wavering and your body freezing is terrifying. One of the most powerful ways to diminish the control that these sensations have on you is to accept them. It may seem difficult but once you are able to acknowledge that they cannot hurt you and that they will pass, anxiety loses some of its grip on you.
Pay attention to your triggers and try to avoid them
Islam highlights that prevention is better than cure. Likewise, we can protect ourselves from drowning in a sea of worries when we realise the situations that tend to trigger our anxiety. Do you tend to panic when you’re running late? Do your best to allow yourself extra time to get ready before you have to be at an appointment. Do you tend to get more anxious when you’re exhausted? Try to go to bed earlier to allow yourself to awake refreshed and ready to face the day.
Transform your thought process
Realise that your worries are often a “false alarm.” When feeling stressed, we tend to catastrophise and imagine the worst-case scenarios for every situation. One should gradually work on replacing your worries and anxiety-provoking thoughts with more realistic and healthier ones. This gives you the ability to control your anxiety level, which is empowering. Positive thoughts make us better able to deal with worry about as opportunities rather than insurmountable obstacles!
Learn and practice some anxiety-reducing techniques
There are a variety of techniques that can help to reduce anxiety during moments of stress. Knowing that you will be able to regain control over your worries during an anxiety-filled time can be very calming and empowering. Things you can try include, making Du’a or Zhikr; sitting or lying down; deep breathing exercises; taking a walk in a natural setting; mindfulness and visualisation (i.e. imagining yourself in a peaceful and safe environment that makes you calm and content).
Live in the present moment rather than worrying about the past or future.
We are often so overcome with worry about the past and anxiety about the future that we completely miss out on the present. We cannot control what will happen within the next hour nor can we change what happened during the last hour but the present moment is within our grasp. By doing this you will naturally start to feel calmer and less bombarded by anxieties about the past and future.
Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.
Sometimes, we push the worst-case scenario to the back of our minds, afraid of facing the possibility of it happening. However, this just promotes anxiety to arise at inopportune times. By taking the time to explore how we would handle such a difficult situation, the worst-case scenario becomes less anxiety-inducing. While we prepare for the worst, we also hope for the best by putting our trust in Allah. Remember that Allah is capable of all things so never cease in making Du’a to Him.
Strive to do everything for the sake of Allah (Most High). Make your intentions for the sake of Allah. Thus, you will worry less and feel less anxious about any mishaps or obstacles that come our way in sha Allah.
We all experience anxiety at times; it is a universal emotion that makes us human. However, our lives don’t have to be overtaken by them. We can manage our anxiety and overcome our worries. Rather than drowning in a sea of worries, we should trust in Allah and trust in the abilities He gave us as we learn to stay afloat while riding the waves that come our way.