Prayer and stress management

By Dr. Afshan Ahmed.

Prayer is worship and the essence of all worship is to seek Allah. Prayer is rooted in the belief that there is a power greater than oneself that can influence spoken one’s life. There is no one set away to pray. Forms include spoken prayers, silent prayers and prayers of the mind, the heart, and union with Allah. Prayers may be directed (e.g. prayers for specific things) or non-directed, with no specific outcome in mind.

Often we get caught up in our life dramas trying to solve everything by ourselves. But life is not that easy, and our problems are unusually complex. Allah has the answers to our problems regardless of size and complexity. We experience stress and worry because we all doubt that Allah cares enough for our most basic needs and being to doubt that a specific situation or problem really can be solved by anyone else.

Prayer, individually or in a group, does indeed enhance the health and longevity of a person but not only because of their “religiosity” but also because of a relaxation response during prayer lowers metabolism, heart rate and blood pressure. The body in this relaxed state feels calm, in control and peaceful. Such a state of mental, emotional and physical well-being is significant as many health disorders are stress related for example depression, hypertension, ulcers and migraines. Allah narrated in holy Quran:

O Believers! Seek help with patience and prayer; no doubt, Allah is with Patients.

Instead of worrying, take everything to Allah in prayer and we will find stress relief and control over our anger and frustration. Praying influences our state of mind, helping us to relax and thereby reducing the effects stress has on various body organs. It is known to not only help reduce mental stress; it also helps beat physical stress and we have a higher probability of being positive. Prayer offers some quite time alone, where we can think and give us the opportunity to focus on our self and to have more energy to deal with routinely issues. The practice of praying has shown a lot of benefits on the functioning of hear and helps to regulate heart beat makes it stronger and less stressed.

The following explanations have been offered as to how prayer helps in stress management.

The relaxation response – prayer elicits the relaxation response, which lowers blood pressure and anxiety and other heightened by stress.

Secondly control – prayer releases control to something greater than oneself, which can reduce the stress of needing to be in charge.

The placebo response – prayer can enhance a person’s hopes and expectations, and that in turn can positively impact mental health.

Healing presence – prayer can bring a sense spiritual or loving presence. It results in peace of mind relaxation.

Positive feelings – prayer can elicit feelings of gratitude, compassion, forgiveness, and hope, all of which are associated with relaxation and wellness.

Mind-body-spiritual exercise that allows us to communicate directly with God. It is an intensely personal endeavor that can be performed alone or with a group and can provide a great source of stress relief. The requirements are simple: all we need to relief in a power greater than ourselves, and faith that this power is looking out for us. Prayer during tense times relieves that feeling of loneliness. The belief that God is listening to prayers and will help us is a source of hope to many individuals. With hope comes the strength to carry on.

As little as 15 minutes a day can make a huge difference by bringing peace and relaxation to our body and mind. Having negative thoughts every now and then is perfectly human and normal. Many people who are stressed don’t really believe that they are able to control our thoughts and put a halt to negative thinking as soon as it begins. As we pray, we will welcome peace into our mind. It can sometimes be difficult to make the time at first, but it will get easier as we commit to practice and begin to feel the benefits of bringing more peace into our mind and life.

We must believe that God will respond to our prayers. If we doubt, we like a wave tossed about by the sea, unsettled in our ways. May Allah teach us to pray effectively and help us to build and strengthen our prayers and help us to work through the stress that is in our lives today, so that we need to be anxious for tomorrow? When we have eyes focused on Allah, we learn that Allah Almighty is able to take all of our burdens and provides stress relief. Allah has unique plan for each of our lives, and part of that plan includes taking care of our every need. We should trust Allah to do what is right because his ways are always best for us. Many times we don’t realize it.

“And when My servants ask you about Me, of course, I am near. I respond to the call of one when he prays to Me; so they should respond to Me, and have faith in Me so they may be on the right path” (2:186)

Writer is Pharmacist by education and writes on social issues.

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