The Bright Day After Every Dark Night

Striking the right balance in aspects of my life plays a pivotal role in maintaining a healthy mind and body. Life stressors can manifest in various forms, leading to short-term and long-term ill-health.

Three key things that I have found that have worked well for me are:

1) Fasting. The health benefits of fasting, in my opinion, are downplayed. Intermittent fasting is proven to lose weight, improve cognitive function and most importantly, reduces our focus on food and adds another element of discipline to our lifestyle and routine. This reduces impulse snacking and the urge to resort to food whenever you feel stressed or anxious.

2) Diet. Caffeine, nicotine, sugar and processed foods can result in peaks and troughs in blood sugar level, which can directly impact feelings of anxiety or mental health. Working towards a well-balanced meal, with lean protein, carbohydrates, fibers and fats can reduce the feeling of the “sugar rush” and help maintain steady energy levels.

3) Exercise. 60 minutes, 4-5 times a week. This has a profound impact on mental health and wellbeing. Maintaining a physically active lifestyle has increased my confidence and motivated me to excel both in my personal and professional life. Those 60 minutes in the gym are my time to switch off from the rest of the world, from the stresses that come with it and allow me to recharge myself for the challenges I am yet to face.

In addition to the above, I also focus on: 

4) Prayer. Protecting this time provides me with a mental break, peace, and allows me to step back from the stressors of life and take a time-out.

5) Communication. Engaging with my peers and mentors has enabled me to discuss, share and gain a wider perspective of current issues in my life.


A Shift In Perspective

“There is nothing I can’t do if I put my mind to it.”

A statement that I have been holding onto for just over 10 years. A statement that I fall back on when I feel moments of stress, struggles, and setbacks are beginning to slowly creep up on me. It’s an indicator to assess how my current situation is affecting me and how in control I feel.

I like to always stay one step ahead of myself. Where is this problem taking me? How much time is this going to require from me, and most importantly, energy? Am I alone in dealing with this problem? These types of questions really help me assess whether I will potentially fall into stressful times so that I can mentally and emotionally prepare myself for it.

If I am about to head into times of stress, I prepare my “after party” session. Alone time to recharge myself. That could be through a book, playing a story based game or even learning something new about this world. It’s a session to dive into a world, real or not, and get lost with the characters, the environment and it’s plot. Once I have set myself up for what I am going to do, I move onto prepping myself up – like a coach giving some last minute advice to his players.

1. Making du’a to Allah SWT to help me in this problem – to keep me patient and hopeful.

2. Remind myself that this hardship is something Allah is putting me under, so that I can become a better version of myself.

3. To take a step back and see the problem in its entirety – a big picture of what I am about to go into and how I envision myself at the end. Identify my first step.

4. Find someone who understands the stressful situation, to bounce off of.

5. Make time and make it important.

6. Plan quick escapes during the period of stress. I like watching comedy shorts on YouTube to make myself laugh and to relax.

7. Lastly, say bismillah and dive in. I trust Allah to have my back as long as I remember Him.

Finally, a reminder to myself – no matter how big of a problem I am facing, so long as I can shift my focus towards Allah SWT for His help, to aid me in my problem, and to ultimately wanting to please Him – there is nothing I can’t do if I put my mind to it. All it takes is a shift in perspective to tackle my stress, struggles and setbacks.


Your Health And Well-Being Comes First

How I look after myself is that I like to play football at least two times a week. That is because I like to keep fit and in shape. So if I for instant am struggling to run around much in a game then I’ll cut back on some of the junk food that I normally consume i.e. fried chicken and chips or maybe eat carbs at least 2 hours before a game. 

I also like to catch up with my friends and talk to them in my spare time as this helps me vent things out of my system or talk about anything that comes to our mind like football or how the day went. Even when we get together and after I see them I feel better about myself. My friends I would say have been key towards my mental well-being meaning I get to be myself around then. They’re empathetic people and non-judgemental as well. We understand and listen to each other. They mean the world to me.

What I most find useful is drinking a cup of tea and having a little chat whether it’s with my neighbour or my lovely best friend. A cup of tea can go a long way. I cannot forget my mum. She’s always been there for me. Always supporting the decisions I made in life. My mum likes to listen to me and my siblings whenever anything is troubling us. She never imposes her decisions on us. 

Anyway enough of me. What I would say is… be yourself. Don’t be boring like the others. There’s only one of YOU!