Is­lamic Per­spec­tive in Stress Man­age­ment


While stress may be nec­es­sary for hu­man sur­vival, the ex­cess of it cer­tainly af­fects our health and pro­duc­tiv­ity. It is claimed that in the United States nearly 20 mil­lion peo­ple suf­fer from stress in terms of at­tribut­ing their ill­ness or symp­toms to it. Stress re­lated com­pen­sa­tion cost nearly $200 mil­lion per year. Loss of pro­duc­tiv­ity and stress re­lated ill­ness di­rectly or in­di­rectly amounts to $50 bil­lion per year. Many cor­po­ra­tions and in­di­vid­u­als are spend­ing nearly $15 bil­lion per year on stress man­age­ment of their em­ploy­ees. *1 There is enough med­i­cal ev­i­dence to link stress to the cau­sa­tion of pep­tic ul­cer dis­ease, hy­per­ten­sion, coro­nary artery dis­ease and de­pres­sion. In ad­di­tion, many com­mon prob­lems like tension headache, in­som­nia, im­po­tency (in man), frigid­ity (in women), are stress re­lated to cau­sa­tion of di­a­betes, sup­pres­sion of im­mune sys­tem and de­vel­op­ment of can­cer. In our day to day life, stress af­fects peace at home, job per­for­mance at work, grades in school and even our eat­ing and mat­ing be­hav­ior.

Warn­ing Signs Of Stress

The ear­li­est signs of stress are ir­ri­tabil­ity, mood swings, dif­fi­culty in sleep, lack of con­cen­tra­tion, ab­dom­i­nal dis­tress, ex­treme sen­si­tiv­ity to crit­i­cism, weight gain of weight loss, fear of fail­ure, poor ap­petite, or hunger, and in­crease de­pen­dence on tran­quil­iz­ers or al­co­hol for sleep. Con­di­tions Which Cause Stress Psy­chi­a­trists have iden­ti­fied some 50 stres­sors. In fact any change, good or bad, is stress­ful. A change in job, or job de­scrip­tion, in school, res­i­dence, fi­nan­cial sta­tus, loss or gain of a fam­ily mem­ber or close friend, in­jury or ill­ness, na­tional calamity or news of ri­ots or vi­o­lence all can be ex­tremely stress- ful. f l Mus­lims li living li i i in a non-Mus­lim li so­ci­ety i may ac­quire some ad­di­tional stress. These may in­clude such fac­tors as pre­serv­ing their iden­tity, prac­tic­ing Is­lam (i.e. in food mat­ters or tim­ing of prayer), de­fend­ing Is­lam on a hos­tile me­dia and set­tling con­flicts be­tween fam­ily mem­bers: the spouse, par­ent /child, and prac­tic­ing / non prac­tic­ing fac­tions.

Who Are Prone to Stress

Al­though stress spares no one in­clud­ing chil­dren, cer­tain pro­fes­sions get more then their share. They in­clude the sales per­son, the stock bro­ker, the sec­re­tary, the in­ner city school teacher, the air traf­fic con­troller, the med­i­cal in­tern, the po­lice of­fi­cer and those han­dling com­plaint depart­ments. It is in­ter­est­ing to note that qual­i­ties like be­ing am­bi­tious, com­pul­sive, high achiev­ing, pro­duc­tiv­ity ori­ented are looked upon as signs of ef­fi­ciency by the em­ployer, are also type A per­son­al­ity traits, so dan­ger­ous to our health. So the art is to have these qual­i­ties, with a cool type B per­son­al­ity in or­der to live hap­pily and have a longer time.

Cop­ing With Stress

Al­though we are all ex­posed to stress, why can some of us cope with it bet­ter then oth­ers ? Is it the way we deal with the stres­sor, or the way we are built? There is some ev­i­dence to sug­gest that some of us may be ge­net­i­cally pre­dis­posed to de­pres­sion, or have de­fi­ciency in the level of neu­ro­trans­mit­ters, the mood reg­u­lat­ing hor­mones, or just do not pro­duce d enough hd adrenalin li on d de­mand. d A per­son’s re­li­gious be­lief has an im­por­tant bear­ing on his per­son­al­ity and his out­look in life. By putting the trust in God, a be­liever min­i­mizes the stress on him by re­duc­ing his re­spon­si­bil­ity and power to con­trol his fail­ures. Proven ways to han­dle stress as be­ing prac­ticed now range from med­i­ta­tion, sleep, ex­er­cise, so­cial­iza­tion, biofeed­back, psy­chother­apy and tran­quil­iz­ers. In this ar­ti­cle we are go­ing to dis­cuss how to deal with stress in the light of the Qu­ran and the Sun­nah.

Stress Fac­tors

Psy­cho­log­i­cally the stress re­sults from the fol­low­ing fac­tors. Fear of the un­known, and our in­abil­ity to rec­og­nize, fore­see and con­trol it. Loss of things, and peo­ple in our life dear to us, and our in­abil­ity to re­cover these losses or ac­cept them. Our in­abil­ity to see through the fu­ture. In fact we might be more stressed if we do see the fu­ture. Con­flicts be­tween the mind, and the re­al­ity and our fail­ure to ac­cept the re­al­ity (i.e. the phase of de­nial). It is the lack of the in­ner peace due to our in­ter­nal con­flicts which leads to the ex­ter­nal dis­tur­bances in our be­hav­ior and af­fects our health. Qu­ranic Re­flec­tion on Stress Fac­tors Let us ex­am­ine how the Qu­ran deals with such sit­u­a­tions. Our losses are a part of trial for us:“Be sure We will test you with some- thing of fear and hunger, some loss in goods or lives, but give glad tid­ings to those who are stead­fast, who say when af­flicted with calamity: To God we be­long and to Him is our re­turn. They are those on whom (de­scend) blessings from God and mercy and they are the ones that re­ceive guid­ance.” (Qu­ran 2:155) What­ever we are given is a gift from God. We are not their own­ers. Ev­ery­thing be­longs to God and re­turns to Him. So if we don’t own these things why mourn their loss or wax proud on re­ceiv­ing them. Only God knows what our ul­ti­mate des­tiny is. We can­not peek into our fu­ture. We do, how­ever, have a lim­ited free will; we are free to choose be­tween good or bad, to be­lieve in God or not to be­lieve in Him, but we have no con­trol over fu­ture not re­lated to our abil­ity to act in the present - whether my wife will have a son or daugh­ter, whether his / her eyes will be brown or black, or whether I will have an ac­ci­dent to­mor­row or not. Wor­ry­ing over such things is of no use. Re­jec­tion of faith in the Qu­ran is de­scribed as a dis­ease, its cause be­ing ar­ro­gance and re­luc­tance to ac­cept truth. “In their heart there is a dis­ease and God has in­creased their dis­ease and griev­ous is their penalty be­cause they lie to them­selves”. (Qu­ran 2:10) Thus when a man lies to him­self, he cre­ates an in­ner con­flict - be­tween his heart and the mind. In or­der to con­tain that con­flict, the mind sends sig­nals to glands for se­cre­tion of hor­mones like adrenalin which leads to rapid heart rate, per­spi­ra­tion, tremor, the ba­sis of a lie de­tec­tor tests. This con­flict could be due to “small” crimes like theft or adul­tery, or big crimes like re­jec­tion of God.

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