Freedom from Stress

stress, originally uploaded by rafa2010.

Anas reported that the Prophet, peace be upon him, used to supplicate, “O Allah, there is no ease except what You make easy, and you alone can turn a difficulty into ease.” (Ibn As-sinni)

When I ran accross this picture I laughed initially because it reminded me of what corporate America was doing to me before I left it. I think stress is terribly underestimated. I recentl watched a National Geographic documentary on Stress. It was a true eye opener. I used to be what I called a “corporate animal.” This is someone who goes to work everyday on high energy, takes on numerous projects, brings work home, works on the weekend and then eventually gets burned out. After a couple of weeks of burnout, this person starts the cycle over again. All this in the name of getting ahead in one’s career. Before I quit/got fired, I was working 10 and 12 hours days in accounting and finance. During month end close I could easily work 16 hours. No amount of productivity systems could balance the loads of work that was coming down the pipeline. Alhamdulillah I later came to the conclusion that I was not a good fit for corporate america. It just seemed as though I was a rat on a treadmeal that would never turn off. I was always on my blackberry, email, phone etc. I would drink loads of Starbucks to keep me going. Little did I know that I was putting my body under loads us stress. If I would have stayed on that path I would probably be dead by 52 (Allah knows best). Studies have shown that people with the Type A personality are more prone to heart disease. These are people that tend to be perfectionists and are pretty hard on themselves. What good is it to always be working to get ahead and reach goals that are unattainable? Many career centered individuals spend their lives chasing career goals. When they reach the goals they are off to something else. I am all for setting goals and reaching them. The problem with most people that set goals is they stay so focused on the goal itself but never enjoy the process of getting there. These people live their entire lives in the future and never enjoying the present. For these people, every friendship, relationship, golf game etc is seen as a means of advancing their career or business endeavors.

There is no such thing as a stress free life. Allah (swt) created us in toil and struggle. I think life would be pretty boring without any stress. The problem with most people is they never turn off or detach. Most people are always connected to work, facebook, email, phones etc. When you see a lot of people they are always in a rush and never able to slow down. Most stress in our lives is unnecessary and can be eliminated by taking some simple steps. Here are 10 simple (or maybe not so simple) ways to reduce or eliminate stress.

1. Identify – This is probably the most important. You have to know those things that are stressing you out before you can eliminate them. You can even make a top ten list of stressors in your life.
2. Disorganization – Being disorganized is another common stressor. Most people are drowing in paperwork, email, tasklists etc. A simple productivity/task management system is important to overcome stress related to being disorganized.
3. Being Late – Being late is a very common stressor. When you wake up late or have to get that extra 30 minutes of facebook, we end having to rush to get ready, rush to get there and this puts the body in fight or flight mode. Make a conscious effort to start getting ready earlier. I try to be at least 15 minutes early to all of my engagements. This gives me time to breath and get settled prior to.
4. Multi-tasking – This is probably the biggest productivity killer around. Learn to single task. By single tasking you can get more flow and enjoyment from your work as well as do a better job.
5. Simplify – Most people are in need of simplifying their life. Learn to simplify your work, your email, information intake, routines, committments etc.
6. Unschedule – Learn to take some things off the table in your schedule. Learn to leave open space in your schedule during the day so you can actually breath and enjoy life. Learn to batch smaller tasks and schedule enough time for the bigger tasks.
7. Slow down – Instead of rushing through life, learn to take things slowly. Stop rushing through your food, enjoy the people around you, enjoy nature. This can remove tons of stress.
8. Quit your job – Our work is the biggest stressor. When I quit my job and started working for myself the loads of stress just went away. Learn to create your own opportunity or go into a field where you are helping humanity.
9. Eat Healthy – Do I really need to elaborate here?
10. Exercise – As little as 30 minutes a day can make a world of difference.

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