Feeling down in the dumps, depressed, having the blues: these are just some of the terms used to describe a feeling of hopelessness and despair that can hit even the most optimistic of us at some point in our lives. While clinical depression requires proper professional treatment, the occasional feeling of sadness due to factors ranging from economic difficulty to harassment and discrimination can be helped through some simple spiritual practices. Here are a couple that can help:
1. Look at those below you
The Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, said: "Whenever you see someone better than you in wealth, face or figure, you should look at someone who is inferior to you in these respects" (Bukhari, Muslim).
If you are reading this article online, consider this: you are one of the lucky set of human beings on the planet who can afford a computer and internet connection or at least have access to one.
The United Nations Development Program's 2007 Human Development Report notes that there are still around 1 billion people living worldwide at the margins of survival on less than $1 a day, with 2.6 billion living on less than $2 a day.
Also consider that in the Quran (14:7), God says that if you are thankful to Him for what you have, He blesses you with more.
2. Serve your fellow human beings
The best way to thank God is to serve humanity, especially those who have less than you. Serving others is uplifting and rewarding. It helps us gain a better perspective on life's challenges, making us realize how very often, are problems seem so small compared to the awesome difficulties others face.
That's why when the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, and the Muslims were a small, poor and persecuted community, they used to give to the poor even more. They understood that when you are generous when you have less, you achieve the perspective of a winner. You are focused on the bigger picture.
3. Read Surah Ad Duha
According to one report, after the Prophet had begun receiving revelation from God, at one point a long period of time passed with no such communication from Allah. As a result, the Makkans ridiculed the Prophet and he became severely depressed. That's when this chapter was revealed (Quran 93: 1-11). The chapter is a beautiful reminder to us to see life in the greater scheme of things, to be grateful for what we have and to never give up striving for what is right. This chapter of the Quran can be considered a direct recipe from God for depression.
4. Turn to God in all situations
Remember that nothing can harm you without the consent of God. While you must take care of yourself, rely on God and know that He is always with you and only He can give you strength in difficult times. Also remember that He will help you can come out of a trying situation as a better person if you deal with it positively.
5. Remember God's Names
God has many beautiful Names which describe His attributes and powers. These are reminders of His Love, Mercy, Forgiveness, Justice, Strength and much, more. Supplicating to God using these Names reminds us that God has these attributes more than any other being and that we can and must rely on Him during good and bad times.
6. Say Hasbun Allahu wa Ni' mal Wakeel
This has been translated as "God suffices me and He is the best guardian." It is an excellent way of reminding us that whatever worries we have or problems we face, God has the answer and cure to all of them and is the only One who can really do what is best for us.
7. Make sure when you leave home, you read this Dua
"In the name of Allah, I place my trust in Allah, and there is no might nor power except with Allah."
Bismillahe tawakkaltu alAllahe la haula wa la quwwata illa biAllah.
8. Take your spiritual break from the world, five times a day
Taking a break away from school, work or other life activities to spend a few minutes to remember God helps you reconnect with the Creator of the Universe, fortify your soul and strengthen your resolve to live a better life that is in tune with your faith and principles.
9. End your day on a good note
Shakespeare once wrote a play entitled "All's well that ends well." That's good advice for dealing with depression too. End a day that may have been riddled with challenges and frustrations by making Wudu before going to bed, thinking of God and the Prophet and counting every blessings you have.
10. Stop Shaytan in his tracks
Shaytan is the source of many of our negative emotions. It's his job to make us feel pessimistic and to despair of any good in life. When you feel these feelings coming on, stop him dead in his tracks: say Aoutho billahi minash Shaytan ir Rajeem (I seek refuge in Allah from the accursed satan).
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