These days it can seem the world is crumbling with news headlines of war, terrorism, gun violence, hate crimes, murder etc. There can be times in life when everything around you is grim and depressing. Life is tough. Even at home, nothing good may seem to happen for you. Financial crisis, job loss, death in the family, sickness—the list goes on.
It can be easy to lash out all this negativity and stress to people around you. But life would get more miserable and you will not be happy. It is your choice on how to deal with this turbulent situation. Do you want to see the glass half empty or half full?
1. Be Steadfast in the Deen
Hardships and calamities are experienced by everyone and it can sometimes be very hard to respond to these calamities when they strike. It may be common for many to lose hope. Reconnecting with the Deen can help in many ways to instill positivity and hope. Take this adversity as an opportunity to get closer to Allah. Allah even says in the Quran, “And We have sundered them in the earth as [separate] nations. Some of them are righteous, and some far from that. And We have tried them with prosperity and adversity in order that they might return” [7:168]. Whatever state and level our faith is in, use this time to improve and turn towards Allah, the only one who can turn things around for the better. This is the number one thing to peace of mind as Allah also states, “Verily in the remembrance of Allah, hearts find rest” [13: 28].
2. Express gratitude
Even in times of struggle, it is important to stop and take an opportunity to express gratitude for the positive things happening in your world today. Practice gratitude. Remind yourself of all the blessings you have and talk about these things with the ones who are closest to you. Acknowledging the positive things in your life will actually make you calmer, even when bad things happen.
Expressing gratitude isn’t about ignoring your current problems. Rather it is about accepting life’s trials and becoming more humble, knowing that it is not us who created our successes and accomplishments, rather it is Allah who brings both hardship and happiness.
In Islam, times of hardship and tribulations are seen as a test from Allah and can be a means to gain reward. As stated in the hadith, which is narrated by Anas (may Allah have mercy upon him), the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said, “Great reward comes with great trials. When Allah loves a people, He tests them, and whoever accepts it attains His pleasure, whereas whoever shows discontent with it incurs His wrath.” [Tirmidhi]
In this hadith, we learn that those who practice patience in times of difficulties will gain reward for their endurance while those who show ingratitude and displeasure with Allah’s decree end up in a situation where not only will they have to go through their current hardship but will also suffer the consequences of being discontent with Allah’s decree.
Knowing there are rewards to benefit from in the end should be a motivation to be positive during turbulent times.
3. Have a Positive Support Group
The Prophet Muhammad greatly emphasized the importance of having good companions. He mentioned the metaphor of the blacksmith and perfume seller to explain this point. “The example of a good companion (friend) in comparison with a bad one is like that of one who sells musk and the blacksmith. From the first, you would either buy musk or enjoy its good smell, while from the blacksmith you would either get burned or smell a bad scent.” [Saheeh Hadith by Bukhari].
That being said just goes to show how important it is to surround yourself with the right people. The people who you spend time with the most are most likely the ones who will influence you. Surrounding yourself with positive people will not only help in negative situations, but also inspire you to have a more optimistic approach in life. Nobody wants negativity in their life and a negative person is like a bad apple in the group—try to avoiding them at all costs!
4. Take Care of Yourself
Going through distress and calamity should not mean sleepless nights and being miserable. A great deal of negativity can occur when not taking care of yourself properly. Keep some time out for yourself just to reflect back and have a peace of mind:
Whether it's a full blown game of basketball or a quick walk in the park, being active is one of the greatest stress relievers. Exercise can help clear your mind and allow you to deal with your problems more calmly and effectively. Try different physical activities and challenge yourself. Changing your daily routine can bring a breath of fresh air and take your mind off all the things that are going around you.
Lack of sleep can make people crabby and be very negative. Many studies show that sleep and mood are closely connected. University of Pennsylvania researchers found that subjects who were limited to only 4.5 hours of sleep a night for one week reported feeling more stressed, angry, sad, and mentally exhausted. When the subjects resumed normal sleep, they reported a dramatic improvement in mood. It is a bad idea to skimp on sleep when you are already going through hard times in your life.
Try going to bed on time. Of course, avoid all sorts of caffeine. Eating healthy is also another way to improve sleep. Studies have shown eating Magnesium and Calcium rich foods help relax body muscles and prepare it for sleep. When it’s time to sleep, putting away all electronics such as cell phones, tablets, and computers away is very vital for better sleep. According to WebMD, melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone that helps regulate the sleep/wake cycle. Melatonin production is affected by light exposure, particularly the blue light that emits from the glow of electronics. Put these away from your bed and turn the lights off.
Find a hobby
Find an activity that interests and you want to continue learning or doing whether it is reading a good book, cooking, art etc. A hobby can be one of the best means to release the stress and negativity going on.
Do good for others
Helping others is one of the best ways to bring positivity into your life. Volunteering in a local center or aiding a family member can bring a smile that may just wipe away all the despair and negativity you were experiencing during your tough time.
5. Know Things Will Get Better
Understand that there is light shining through that dark hole and things will get better. Allah the Almighty promises us in the Quran, “Verily, with every hardship comes ease” [94:5]. All of that patience and remembrance of Allah will pay off, one just needs to have Tawakkul or trust in Allah. Any promise made by Allah is a guarantee. We can have peace of mind in the knowledge that most hardships are temporary, and relief is soon to follow. We should always keep making dua to thank Allah, no matter what the current situation is.
And when things do finally get better, one must remember to thank Allah and never forget him, for he is the grantor of all happiness and all success.
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