Fighting Burn-Out: Becoming A Well-Balanced Productive Muslim

Life is a prison for a Muslim and Allah sends down trials to human beings, which is clearly mentioned in the Qur’an:

“Verily! We have made that which is on earth as an adornment for it, in order that We may test them (mankind) as to which of them are best in deeds.” [18:7]

Therefore, happy and sad moments are a natural part of our life. It’s essential to understand how to deal with unpleasant realities of living when they knock on the door of life.

Inability to cope with frustrating moments in life can possibly lead to burnout and depression.

Burnout is a state of physical, emotional and mental fatigue caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It develops when you feel overwhelmed and unable to meet constant demands.

It also occurs when you are working towards objectives that do not resonate with you. This state can also be a real threat if you get on with your family members or co-workers poorly. As the burnout continues, you may lose the motivation that led you to undertake on a certain role in the first place.

Some personality traits that can contribute to burnout are: perfectionism, a pessimistic view of the self and the world around you, as well as having a type A personality or high achieving personality.

Is your target to live a well-balanced life? A lifestyle where you reach success in your chosen field and be emotionally present, and actually involved, in the lives of your loved ones? If so, then achieving inner balance should be your guide.

The following are steps to get you out of burnout and achieve inner balance:

Physical Exercise

The World Health Organization warns that by the year 2020, burnout and depression will be the second leading cause of death and disability in the world — mainly due to more stressful lifestyles, violence and poverty. Exercise helps us deal with a stressful situation and it prepares us to better cope with future burnout and fight depression.

In 1999, four health related studies were conducted at the University of Colorado at Boulder. The research studied how regular exercise changes physiological responses to stress from the brain, hormonal system and immune system. The results showed that regular exercise helps to reduce the negative effects of burnout and to improve the immune system. As we know, exposure to mental or physical stress increases our susceptibility to illness.

Physical exercise, on the other hand, can help keep stress levels under control.

Breathe to Relax

Allah (Subhanahu wa’tala) has blessed us with beautiful nature that provides us a pure way to activate our relaxation response. Taking a deep, mindful breath when we feel burned out can be a convenient way to bring us back to balance. It can also help shift our perspective. The next time you feel overwhelmed in a situation pause and take a deep, concentrated breath and allow the stress to melt away.

Take breaks between big tasks.

Burnout leads your body and mind to a weakened situation. It’s important to avoid jumping from one stressful, time-consuming task to the next. Give your body and mind time to recover. Without such a recovery you’re placing a burden on your mind and body without having a chance to recharge, it’s exhausting!

Spiritual Exercise

Sad moments and misery are among major causes of burnout.

Fortunately, Islam holds the answers to every worldly problem. Spiritual exercise is always the best way for a productive Muslim to fight any unpleasant state of mind and body, including burnout. The essential factor is an optimistic view of the self and the world. This is necessary to release us from such a state of burnout and any stressful situation.

Remember that the Prophet (Peace and blessings upon Him) related that Allah (Subhanahu wa’tala) said, ”I am with my slave’s thoughts about Me, so let him think of Me as he chooses.” The hadith emphasizes the importance of positive thinking in life.

The nature of this worldly life makes it impossible for human beings not to be intruded with some kind of adversity. This is a part of life. Realizing that any unpleasant moments or hardship strengthens our hearts, atones for our sins and helps to suppress an inclination towards pride and haughtiness will relieve our mind.

Furthermore, there are numerous scientific findings on the relationship between mental health and religion. Thayer, Newman, and McClain (1994) found that religiosity and spiritual strategies were particularly effective for reducing burnout, nervousness, tension and anxiety. Moreover, it loaded on a pleasant distraction factor which was found to be the most effective strategy for mood change.

If you sense that you suffer from burnout, first of all, stop insisting of yourself to keep going. Start listening to your body, and it will tell you what it needs. Take on some of the strategies mentioned above and keep the faith that Allah (Subhanahu wa’tala) is the best disposer of all human affairs.

As a Productive Muslim, how do you fight burn out? What tweaks and positive habits in your life help you maintain a balanced lifestyle? Share with us below!

References :
Joshi, Vinay (2005). Stress From Burnout to Balance. Tejeshwar Singh for Response Books.

Koenig, H. G., Cohen, H. J., Blazer, D. G., Pieper, C., and Meador, K. G., Shelp, F., Goli, V., and DiPasquale, R. (1992). Religious coping and depression in elderly hospitalized medically ill men. American Journal of Psychiatry, 149, 1693–1700

Thayer, R. E., Newman, J. R., & McClain, T. M. (1994). Self-regulation of mood: Strategies for changing a bad mood, raising energy, and reducing tension. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 67, 910–925.

About the Author
Rushda Abraham is a French Muslim Woman Magazine journalist.