5. Learn and practice some anxiety-reducing techniques
There are a variety of techniques that can help to reduce anxiety during moments of stress. Choose the ones that work best for you and continually implement them; gradually, they will become almost automatic insha’Allah. Knowing that you will be able to regain control over your worries during an anxiety-filled time can be very calming and empowering. Some of my personal favorites techniques include: making du’aa, deep breathing, taking a walk in a natural setting, and visualization (i.e. imagining myself in a peaceful and safe environment that makes me calm and content). There are so many supplications the Prophet (sala Allahu ‘alayhi wa salam) taught us to use during times of worry and anxiety, since this is a universal issue, so find the ones that most resonate with you. One that never fails to lighten my heart is the following: Ibn Mas’ud reported that the Prophet (sala Allahu ‘alayhi wa salam) said,
If any servant of Allah afflicted with distress or grief makes this supplication, his supplication will be accepted: ‘O Allah, I am Your servant, son of Your servant, son of your maidservant. My forehead is in Your hand. Your command concerning me prevails, and Your decision concerning me is just. I call upon You by every one of the beautiful names by which You have described Yourself, or which You have revealed in Your book, or have taught anyone of Your creatures, or which You have chosen to keep in the knowledge of the unseen with You, to make the Qur’an the delight of my heart, the light of my breast, and remover of my griefs, sorrows, and afflictions’. (Ahmad & Ibn Hibban)
6. Live in the present moment rather than worrying about the past or future
Ibn al-Qayyim (rahimahullah) said,
“Your attention must be directed to your life in the present – the time between two times. If you waste it, then you have wasted the opportunity to be of the fortunate and saved ones. If you look after it, having rectified the two times – what is before and after it – then you will be successful and achieve rest, delight and ever-lasting bliss.”
We are often so overcome with worry about the past and anxiety about the future that we completely miss out on the present. You cannot control what will happen within the next hour nor can you change what happened during the last hour but the present moment is within your grasp. Choose how you use the present wisely. Abu Hurairah (radi Allahu ‘anhu) reported that the Prophet (sala Allahu ‘alayhi wa salam) said,
A strong believer is better and dearer to Allah than a weak believer, and there is good in everyone, but cherish what gives you benefit in the Hereafter and seek help from Allah and do not lose heart, and if anything (in the form of trouble) comes to you, don’t say, ‘If I had not done that, such and such thing would not have happened,’ but say, ‘Allah has ordained it so, and whatever He pleases He does,’ because ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ open the door for Satan. (Muslim)
The Prophet (sala Allahu ‘alayhi wa salam) encourages us to do that which benefits us and to save ourselves from needless worry by avoiding the typical “should’ve, would’ve, could’ve” self-talk.
7. Hope for the best and prepare for the worst
There is something very powerful about facing your fears. Sometimes, we push the worst-case scenario to the back of our minds, afraid of facing the possibility that something so scary could actually happen. However, this just promotes anxiety to arise at inopportune times. When we take the time to explore our fears and how we would handle such a difficult situation, the worst-case scenario is no longer so anxiety-inducing. While we prepare for the worst, we also hope for the best by putting our trust in Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala). Remember that Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) is capable of all things so never cease in making du’aa to Him. Anas said that when the Prophet (sala Allahu ‘alayhi wa salam) was faced with a serious difficulty, he would always supplicate, “Ya Hayyu, ya Qayyumu, bi-rahmatika astaghithu (O the Living, O the Eternal, I seek help in Your grace).” (Tirmidhi) Also, striving to do everything for the sake of Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) can be very calming. By finding fulfillment through a greater purpose- when you make your intentions for the sake of Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala)- even if things don’t turn out perfectly, your ultimate goal in pleasing Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) is still achieved. That way, you will worry less and feel less anxious about any mishaps or obstacles that come your way insha’Allah.
We all experience anxiety at times; it’s a universal emotion that makes us human. However, our lives don’t have to be overtaken by them. You can manage your anxiety and overcome your worries insha’Allah. Rather than drowning in a sea of worries, trust in Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) and trust in the abilities He gave you as you learn to stay afloat while riding the waves that come your way.