I never considered myself an anxious person, but I’ve seen it creep up through the years. It wasn’t until a fellow Islamic studies teacher described how she felt having an anxiety attack at work, did I realize that I was living with anxiety.
What’s more, is my family living with my anxiety?
My family had to manage with my ups and downs, my struggles with meeting deadlines for things I volunteered for (and kept volunteering for the sake of our local Muslim community, at the expense of my family), and my short fuse for normal bumps in the road.
Something had to change.
Given the right circumstances, I think anyone can become an anxious person, so I needed to make the right conditions so I could stop being an anxious person. What follows is what worked for me. It is by no means medical advice as I am not a medical professional, so if you are experiencing unresolved anxiety or depression, please seek actual medical advice, but if you feel your anxiety is situational, I hope my experience can assist you in sha Allah.
My 5 Tips To Reduce Anxiety
I know I’m not the only mom who uses social media as an escape from daily stress, or maybe it’s a game on your phone. Whatever it might be, if the technology is your escape, it could be hindering you from actually winding down. It’s rare that I feel refreshed after I use my phone as an escape. Instead, it seems like I just put everything on pause. My mind is not settled down, and I don’t feel more prepared for the day. The less time I spend with technology in a day, the less anxious I feel. It’s a correlation I avoided noticing, but it’s true.
My current soapbox for other mothers is: You do not need to sign your kids up for so many activities! Your children don’t need sports AND Islamic school AND scouts. Sure, they are in a constant mode of play, so they don’t mind, but the toll it takes on a parent is real.
My biggest fault before I had little kids that keep me busy, was signing up to volunteer for everything. I was volunteering with the homeschool co-op, our Muslim homeschool group, the local dawah team and the masjid’s Islamic school.
No wonder I was having anxiety. I never had time to breathe!
In most communities, there are lots of drop-in options for families. It could be as simple as a local park or halaqa at the masjid. If you do need to sign up to participate, keep it short and keep your schedule simple. You still have doctor appointments, errands, and connecting with family and friends that need to fit into your week.
What has worked for me, is to limit my involvement to only two things in a week that is regularly scheduled. There have been times that those two elements have often canceled, leaving me wanting to find other outlets, but that’s a better situation than signing up and paying for activities that you are committed to for the entire school year.
I often see people at the gym, but that doesn’t mean that fills up my social meter. Being with like-minded friends and family fills you up, encourages you on your path, and is a breath of fresh air.
Both of the activities I have carved out time in my week for include people who encourage me and make me excited to meet the coming days. In my case they happen to be fellow homeschooling moms, so they know how I’m trying to use my days intentionally with my little ones. For other moms, it could be an early childhood class that has a parent discussion portion, a book club, or the like.
In sha Allah as my kids get older and I can have more independent time, I look forward to joining a halaqa to fill me up as an intellectual Muslim too in sha Allah. Sometimes it takes a lot of work to find outlets that refresh us, but it deserves our time and attention if we can make it work.
4. Wind down with hobbies
Hobbies are a fantastic way to combine relaxing with being productive. Turn off any visual stimulation like the TV or the computer screen and take some time for yourself. Maybe you like reading, knitting or painting. If you’re like me, and you enjoy knitting and reading, listening to an audio book while you knit (tat or crochet) feels downright luxurious.
Since I’ve started making time for my hobbies again, my anxiety does not follow me into bed at night as often. Most nights before bed I can relax with a project for a little while, even if I’m still juggling keeping my toddler in bed, and let my brain take a break from my busy life to just focus on one stitch at a time.
Don’t forget exercising can be a hobby! It’s an excellent way to get rid of that extra stress and to build up your strength in the process. I signed up for a local gym after my youngest was seven weeks old because I struggled with having the muscle tone for everyday tasks, and now I’m in the best fitness I’ve been in my life (though, not the thinnest, but I’ll take what I can get :-) )!
5. Natural remedies
Again, this is not medical advice, but here are two solutions that have worked well for me:
Vitamin B Complex: During my last pregnancy, I battled moderately severe depression, but if I took my B-Complex vitamin every day, I could at least function on a daily basis. Without it, I struggled to get out of bed. I can’t say it’s a cure-all, but it has been an incredibly beneficial tool for me. I love Shaklee vitamins, and I trust their quality, so that’s what I purchase for my family, but go with what you believe.
Essential oils: There are a lot of oils available that will help with depression or anxiety. I love the DoTerra Balance blend personally, but many others can help. I put three drops of their oil in a ten mL bottle and top it off with Jojoba oil, so it lasts a long time, and I can keep it in my purse for days where I feel on edge.
One word on essential oils: There are a lot of resources out there (including DoTerra, unfortunately) that will claim you can use oils without diluting them. Even if you can, you shouldn’t. Essential oils are potent and should be treated with care. Diluting them to 1-3% is far safer, even if a resource claims they can be used without any dilution at all. As always, it’s best to contact a certified professional to learn how to use any health aid.
In sha Allah I pray that if you are battling anxiety or depression, you have people and resources around you to help. The years with very young children can bring out anxiety in even the calmest mothers. Motherhood is a tough job! If you haven’t tried these tips before, I hope they bring the relief you seek. If you feel unsafe because of your anxiety or depression, please seek professional help. Allahu alim.