Stay at Home: Managing Stress & Wellbeing During the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) Pandemic

It is understandable to be worried: Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations.

The Covid-19 pandemic has led to increasing anxiety, stress and fears of uncertainty. It is normal to feel like this. In these difficult times, you should make sure to be in tune with your emotions and mental well-being. If you are feeling overwhelmed, remember to turn to Allah.

The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “If anyone constantly seeks pardon (from Allah), Allah will appoint for him a way out of every distress and a relief from every anxiety, and will provide sustenance for him from where he expects not.” [Abu Dawud].

Stress can manifest in different ways 1 :

  • Racing heart, feeling tense and anxious.
  • Feelings of sadness, increased irritability and overwhelmedness.
  • Changes in sleeping patterns and habits.
  • Loss of appetite or change in eating habits.
  • Difficulty in concentration or lack of interest.

Tips on Limiting Stress While Social Distancing and Staying Indoors:

  1. You don’t have to be mentaly isolated when in physical isolation. Reach out to friends & ​family and create those human connections. Loneliness can worsen anxiety.
      • Try video calls instead of emails, phone calls instead of messages. Why not have a virtual catch up over coffee!
      • Remember to check in and call the most vulnerable and the elderly.
  2. Separate spaces. Keep an appointed space for work, a space for sleeping, and a space for​ relaxation & ibadah, even if they all end up needing to be in the same room. This will help you focus and be more productive 2.
  3. Fresh air & sunshine. Go out for a walk in your garden if you have one. If you don’t then open​ your windows and let the daylight in. Reflect on the beauty of Allah’s creation all around you.
  4. Exercise. Keeping healthy is not only a Sunnah but also triggers feelings of positivity. It is even​ more important now as our physical health is adversely affected by reduced social contact. Try some simple exercises at home. You could try skipping, push-ups, lunges or sit-ups. There are many useful online exercise videos, and many more being posted due to Covid-19.
  5. Limit your consumption of media. It seems like every media outlet is reporting on the​ pandemic, however try to limit your time watching and following the news. Try to focus on credible sources of information from the NHS 3, WHO 4, or the government 5.
    • Do not spread misinformation. It is our duty to verify any information we spread
  6. Maintain a routine. Waking up at the same time will help you feel less tired and more refreshed,​ allowing you to concentrate better through the day. Get ready as you would normally, shower, get dressed and be ready for the day ahead. A personal routine helps to lessen anxiety.
  7. Maintain a healthy diet & stay hydrated. Be inspired by the Prophet’s dates, turnip, olives, black seed & honey. Don’t over eat and drink plenty of fluids (ZamZam if available).
    • The Prophet ﷺ said, “Use the Black Seed for indeed, it is a cure for all diseases except death.” [Bukhari]
    • “Honey is a remedy for every illness and the Quran is a remedy for all illness of the mind, therefore I recommend to you both remedies, the Quran and honey.” [Sahih Bukhari]
  8. Be God Conscious and remember Muraqabah. Spend time engaged in meditation/​mindfulness 6 (sitting in a quiet place, clearing your mind and reflecting on Allah), engage in frequent dhikr and Qur’an recitations. Designate a calm and tranquil place in your home where you engage in these activities. Make sure you disconnect from your phone at this time and try to establish a daily routine incorporating Muraqabah into your day alongside prayers.
  9. Make time to do things you enjoy. We all have things we enjoy doing and it’s important to put​ aside time to do these. As we need to stay at home, why not try things you always put off because you didn’t have the time.
    • If you have children set aside some time to talk to them and keep them busy with fun activities or hobbies which may keep you occupied as well.

How to relieve symptoms of anxiety and stress

  • Be aware of your stress levels. Recognising the symptoms of stress & anxiety early makes​ them easier to manage. Identify the triggers that cause you to feel stressed.
  • Breathe. Focus on your breathing. Focus on the natural rhythm. Focus only on this.​
  • Listening to the Quran 7 . This can be very relaxing, there are many Qari to choose from. You​ could even try to improve your recitation by copying them, taking an ayah at a time.
  • Notice the good around you. It can sometimes be difficult when there is so much stress and​ uncertainty around you. Find something good around you, focus on it and squeeze the goodness out of it. Keep a look out for all that is good.
  • Be more independent and take a step back. Try to remove yourself from the current stressors​ and look at life as a bigger picture: What has been good? What have you achieved? Who are the positive people around you? What are you grateful for?
  • Write down what is worrying you. Problems can be easier to manage when written down.​
  • Create a ‘worry time’. Allocate time in the day or evening to think about what worries you. If you​ come across things during the day, try not to think about them until your ‘worry time’. You could even try and make this time a time you make du’a to Allah and talk to Him about your worries.
  • Speak to family or friends. Identify at least one person who you feel comfortable talking to.​

Islamic Guidance on Dealing with Stress

At times of hardship, we are advised to turn to Allah. Whilst you can make dua in your native language for whatever you may wish, there are Prophetic and Quranic supplications that you may want to incorporate into your routine.

اللُّهمَّ إِنِّي أَعْوذُ بِكَ مِنَ الهَمِّ وَ الْحُزْنِ، والعًجْزِ والكَسَلِ والبُخْلِ والجُبْنِ، وضَلْعِ الدَّیْنِ وغَلَبَةِ الرِّجال

” O Allah, I seek refuge in You from worry and grief, from incapacity and laziness, from cowardice and miserliness, from being heavily in debt and from being overpowered by men .” [Al-Bukhari]

It is narrated that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “There is no one who says in the morning of every day and the evening of every night, three times but nothing will harm him.” [Tirmidhi]

بِسْمِ اللهَِّ الَّذِي لاَ یَضُرُّ مَعَ اسْمِهِ شَىْءٌ فِي الأَرْضِ وَلاَ فِي السَّمَاءِ وَهُوَ السَّمِیعُ الْعَلِیمُ

“In the name of Allah with Whose Name nothing on earth or in heaven harms and He is the All-Hearing the All-Knowing and is then harmed by anything .”

رَبَّنَا وَلاَ تُحَمِّلْنَا مَا لاَ طَاقَةَ لَنَا بِهِ وَاعْفُ عَنَّا وَاغْفِرْ لَنَا وَارْحَمْنَا أَنتَ مَوْلاَنَا فَانصُرْنَا عَلَى الْقَوْمِ الْكَافِرِینَ

“ Our Lord, and burden us not with that which we have no ability to bear. And pardon us, and forgive us, and have mercy upon us. You are our protector, so give us victory over the disbelieving people. ” [Qur’an,2:286]

This is the du’a of Prophet Yunus, mentioned in Surah Anbiya, Verse 87. From this dua, we are reminded that we should be patient in all of our affairs and constantly beseech Allah. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said regarding this du’a: “Every person in a state of distress who has used this supplication has had God remove his distress” [Tirmidhi].

لا إِلَهَٰ إِلَّا أَنتَ سُبْحَانَكَ إِنِّي كُنتُ مِنَ الظَّالِمین

“ There is no God but You, glory be to You, I was one of the wrongdoers .”

Seeking Allah’s protection from illness, the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم would say:

اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّى أَعُوذُ بِكَ مِنَ الْبَرَصِ وَالْجُنُونِ وَالْجُذَا مِ وَمِنْ سَیِّئِ الأَ سْقَامِ

Anas reported: The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, would say, “ O Allah, I seek refuge in you from leprosy, madness, degenerative diseases, and evil sicknesses .” [Sunan Abi Dawud, Hadith: 1549]

Tips for Mosque to Ensure the Well-Being of the Community:

  1. Consider arranging daily talks or events via audio or video links. Some masjids have daily talks​​ during the day & Quranic recitation in the evenings.
    • This may help those who relied on the mosque for their well-being and sense of community to feel engaged and uplifted.
  2. Consider setting up volunteer groups to support the vulnerable and elderly, particularly those​​ with health conditions, mobility restrictions or those in isolation:
    • These groups could help obtain groceries or supplies if needed, or provide emotional support.
  3. Engage potential volunteers. Many members of the community might have more spare time​ and will benefit from being involved in community work, even if it’s online.
  4. Signpost people to local services. Some may be struggling financially8. Some may need mental​ health support.

When and How to seek Medical Attention:

If you are still struggling despite self help measures9 then call your GP, local mental services10 or one of the helplines:

  1. Muslim Youth Helpline, www.myh.org.uk , tel: 0808 808 2008
  2. Muslim Counsellor And Psychotherapist Network, www.mcapn.co.uk, email: [email protected]
  3. www.sakoon.co.uk , email: [email protected], tel: 07943 561 561
  4. https://muslimcommunityhelpline.org.uk/ , tel: 0208 908 6715
  5. www.inspiritedminds.org.uk

There is wisdom behind the challenges we are currently facing, these are truly extraordinary times. There is a reason why you have been chosen to face these challenges. Use it as an opportunity to work on strengthening your connection with Allah. Every opportunity is a blessing. 

British Islamic Medical Association

Tuesday 24 March 2020

[email protected]

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