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12 Mental Health Tips From The Quran And Sunnah

12 Mental Health Tips From The Quran And Sunnah

According to recent research conducted by leading mental health organizations, one in four people will experience mental health issues during their lifetime. At the end of 2019, it was estimated that one in 12 people suffer from depression, while a total of 450 million people – including children – were battling some alternative form of mental illness. These numbers were based only on cases which had been reported, suggesting that the reality of mental health issues is much larger. Needless to say that the COVID-19 pandemic has most certainly made the situation worse.

Thankfully, the fact that such a significant percentage of people have begun reporting their mental health issues is a step in the right direction. For centuries, depression and other mental health issues were simply not talked about. In our Muslim communities and family circles, it remains a topic that is not being addressed enough and can even be a taboo. It doesn’t have to be: the importance of mental health was never a taboo in Islam. In fact, we find many verses in the Quran and aḥadīth (narrations of the words, actions and character of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him)) addressing the issues around mental health, including depression and anxiety, and offering mental wellbeing tips that we can and should apply in our daily lives. Our religion is complete, and mental health is no exception, alhamdulillah. Read on to find out how the Quran and sunnah can help with mental health!


1. Acknowledge the Reality and Importance of Mental Health

وَلَنَبْلُوَنَّكُم بِشَيْءٍ مِّنَ الْخَوْفِ وَالْجُوعِ وَنَقْصٍ مِّنَ الْأَمْوَالِ وَالْأَنفُسِ وَالثَّمَرَاتِ وَبَشِّرِ الصَّابِرِينَ

And We will surely test you with something of fear and hunger and a loss of wealth and lives and fruits, but give good tidings to the patient. (Surah Al-Baqarah, 2:155)

Allah سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى makes it very clear in the Quran that our worldly life will be filled with tests. Every single one of us will be tested in one way or another, including with our own emotions. One such emotion, mentioned in the ayah above, is خَوْف, which carries the meanings of fear, dread, worry, concern.

Sadness, anxiety, worry are emotions that we all experience to a certain degree in our lives. Even the prophets (peace be upon them all) went through these emotions and there is much to learn from their stories, which we find in the Quran. Prophet Yaʿqūb عليه السلام, for instance, was so distressed at the news of losing his son Yūsuf عليه السلام that he cried to the point of becoming blind. Prophet Zakariyyah (peace be upon him) was very worried about not having any child at an old age and turned to Allah سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى in supplication. Maryam (may Allah سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى be please with her) was going through the pains of childbirth when she expressed her fears and said, يَا لَيْتَنِي مِتُّ قَبْلَ هَـٰذَا وَكُنتُ نَسْيًا مَّنسِيًّا (the interpretation of which is: “Oh, I wish I had died before this and was in oblivion, forgotten.” Even Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) experienced a lot of deep sadness and great worry in his life, culminating with the Year of Sorrow during which he successively lost his beloved wife Khadija and his uncle Abu Talib.

By mentioning these stories (and many others) of despair and distress in the Quran, Allah سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى acknowledges those difficult emotions that we, human beings, go through, but He سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى also reassures us and gives us the keys that we need to overcome them.

2. Turn to Allah سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى and Remember that He is With You

وَقَالَ رَبُّكُمُ ادْعُونِي أَسْتَجِبْ لَكُمْ

And your Lord says, “Call upon Me; I will respond to you.” (Surah Ġāfir, 40:60)

With this beautiful and powerful ayah (usually translated as “verse” in English), Allah سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى makes a promise to the believer: if we call upon Him, He will respond – guaranteed, no doubt about it. In his commentary about this ayah, Ibn Kathir recorded that Sufyan Ath-Thawri, one of the great Islamic scholars, jurist and hadith compiler, used to say: “O You Who love most those who ask of You, and O You Who hate most those who do not ask of You, and there is no one like that apart from You, O Lord.”

Allah سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى is indeed الْمُجِيب, The Responsive, The Supreme Answerer, The Acceptor of Invocation. He سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى is here for us to call upon Him at all times: in times of happiness, in gratitude; and in times of struggle, in need. Making dua (supplication) is therefore a powerful tool that Allah سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى is giving the believer. Engaging in dhikr (remembrance of Allah) by starting anything we do with “bismillah” (in the name of Allah) and saying “alhamdulillah” (all praise is due to Allah), “subḥānAllah” (glorified is Allah), “lā ilāha ill-Allah” (there is no deity worthy of worship except Allah) often is a great way to remind ourselves that Allah سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى is here with us.

أَلَا بِذِكْرِ اللَّـهِ تَطْمَئِنُّ الْقُلُوبُ

Truly it is in the remembrance of God that hearts find peace. (Surah Ar-Raʿd, 13:28)

3. Take Care of Your Body

Narrated `Abdullah bin `Amr bin Al-`As: Allah’s Messenger ﷺ said, “O `Abdullah! Have I not been formed that you fast all the day and stand in prayer all night?” I said, “Yes, O Allah’s Messenger ﷺ!” He said, “Do not do that! Observe the fast sometimes and also leave them (the fast) at other times; stand up for the prayer at night and also sleep at night. Your body has a right over you, your eyes have a right over you and your wife has a right over you.” (Sahih al-Bukhari 5199)

Our body is a trust that Allah سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى has given us for a short, limited time in this worldly life. It is part of the many great blessings and favors that Allah سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى has bestowed upon us, and it is our obligation to take care of it properly, not only to try and maintain good health in this life, but also and most importantly to make sure that we will be able to confidently answer to Allah on the Day of Judgment, when asked about how we took care of the body He gave us.

Additionally, recent research has shown that the way we take care of our body has a direct impact on our mental health. Eating healthy (more on that later), exercising, practicing breathing techniques, being outdoors, having balanced habits, sleeping enough, etc. all have been shown to have a really positive impact on depression, anxiety, ADHD, and even pessimism. This is not about preparing for the next marathon, or following the latest trendy diet. Rather, the idea is to understand that we function as a holistic being: our physical health has an impact on our mental health and vice versa.

4. Take care of your spirituality

اللّهُـمَّ إِنِّي عَبْـدُكَ ابْنُ عَبْـدِكَ ابْنُ أَمَتِـكَ نَاصِيَتِي
بِيَـدِكَ، مَاضٍ فِيَّ حُكْمُكَ، عَدْلٌ فِيَّ قَضَاؤكَ أَسْأَلُـكَ بِكُلِّ
اسْمٍ هُوَ لَكَ سَمَّـيْتَ بِهِ نَفْسَكَ أِوْ أَنْزَلْتَـهُ فِي كِتَابِكَ،
أَوْ عَلَّمْـتَهُ أَحَداً مِنْ خَلْقِـكَ أَوِ اسْتَـأْثَرْتَ بِهِ فِي
عِلْمِ الغَيْـبِ عِنْـدَكَ أَنْ تَجْـعَلَ القُرْآنَ رَبِيـعَ قَلْبِـي،
وَنورَ صَـدْرِي وجَلَاءَ حُـزْنِي وذَهَابَ هَمِّـي

O Allah, I am Your slave and the son of Your male slave and the son of your female slave. My forehead is in Your Hand (i.e. you have control over me). Your Judgment upon me is assured and Your Decree concerning me is just. I ask You by every Name that You have named Yourself with, revealed in Your Book, taught any one of Your creation or kept unto Yourself in the
knowledge of the unseen that is with You, to make the Qur’an the spring of my heart, and the light of my chest, the banisher of my sadness and the reliever of my distress.
(Sahih (Al-Albani), Ahmad 1/391)

Spirituality is an important aspect of mental health. What we mean by spirituality here is not the mere fulfillment of our religious obligations, such as the five daily prayers, fasting during the month of Ramaḍān, or paying the Zakat (alms-giving), as one could complete those without any sense of spirituality. Rather, it is the constant seeking, to the best of one’s ability, of getting closer to Allah SWT. Making our best efforts to take care of our relationship with our Creator can go a long way in making us feel better about ourselves and regaining some of the inner peace we have lost. Here is a short list of a few extras you could engage in – be realistic though, and focus on what you can do, even if it is just one thing from the list:

  • Offer extra prayers
  • Read the Quran, or a translation in your native language
  • Listen to the Quran
  • Learn and recite new duas like the one above – we have compiled a list of duas for depression, anxiety and sorrow in a previous blog post
  • Stay in touch with family and friends
  • Listen to or watch Islamic lectures – there is an increasing amount of recordings out there around the topic of mental health from Muslim professionals, masha’Allah!
  • Spend money or time on a charitable cause (more on this later)
  • Remember Allah سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى by saying “alhamdulillah” (all praise is due to Allah), “subḥānAllah” (glorified is Allah), “lā ilāha ill-Allah” (there is no deity worthy of worship except Allah)
  • Read a book on the life of the Prophet, or listen to the Audiobook version

5. Seek Expert Help When You Need It

Narrated Usamah ibn Sharik: I came to the Prophet ﷺ and his Companions were sitting as if they had birds on their heads [i.e., they were very still]. I greeted them and sat down. The desert Arabs then came from here and there. They asked: Messenger of Allah, should we make use of medical treatment? He replied: Make use of medical treatment, for Allah has not made a disease without appointing a remedy for it, with the exception of one disease, namely old age. (Sahih (Al-Albani), Sunan Abi Dawud 3855)

When we become sick with the flu, experience recurring pain in a part of our body, or break a bone for instance – may Allah سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى protect us all from these issues – we seek medical attention from experts: we visit our family doctor, we consult a specialist, we go to an urgent care facility. Similarly, if we regularly experience feelings of anxiety, worry and fear that keep us from functioning normally or affect our relationships with others, we must seek the help we need from experts. This can mean different things for different people depending on the situation. For someone experiencing difficulties related to the practice of their religion, seeing a qualified imaam, shaykh or mufti might be what is needed. For someone experiencing extreme sadness, feeling overwhelmed with everyday responsibilities, a professional in the field of psychology might be more beneficial. When in doubt, you can also start with your primary care physician as they are trained to help you with general wellness, identify signs of chronic anxiety and depression, and they will refer you to the adequate specialist if particular care is needed.

There tends to be a taboo in our Muslim communities around seeking help from professionals in the field of psychology and psychiatry. We often hear comments that deny the existence of depression and other mental health ailments: “she should pray more,” or “he should fast more,”– even more common, “it’s in your head,” or “this person is possessed.” Depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders are real issues that require medical attention and sometimes medical treatment. People showing signs of these disorders should be advised to seek expert help rather than be told their issue is not real or that the solution is simple and they just aren’t trying hard enough.

Additionally, there may be underlying causes that trigger those feelings. It could be due to a trauma that the person experienced in their life, perhaps even in their childhood. It could also be the result of a chemical imbalance in someone’s body, or a symptom of a serious disease such as a cancer or an autoimmune disease. We should never take these signs lightly.

6. Make the Quran an Integral Part of Your Life

يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ قَدْ جَاءَتْكُم مَّوْعِظَةٌ مِّن رَّبِّكُمْ وَشِفَاءٌ لِّمَا فِي الصُّدُورِ وَهُدًى وَرَحْمَةٌ لِّلْمُؤْمِنِينَ

People, a teaching from your Lord has come to you, a healing for what is in [your] hearts, and guidance and mercy for the believers. (Surah Yūnus, 10:57)

The Quran is full of inspirational stories, reminders, warnings, practical tips, and words of wisdom. It is the Word of Allah سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى, and as such, it is the greatest book that we could hope for in our lives. Making the Quran your life companion by reading it, reciting it, learning from it and applying it will benefit you in all aspects of your worldly life but also your afterlife.

Allah سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى says in the Quran that it is Al-Kitāb – the book about which there is no doubt; Al-Furqān – the criterion to distinguish true and false, right and wrong, lawful and unlawful; Adh-Dhikr – the reminder to help us remember Allah سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى). It is also Shifā’ – a healing, a cure for whatever is in our hearts; Huda and Raḥmah – a source of guidance for humanity and mercy for the believers. The Quran has everything we need as Allah سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى made it a blueprint, including on how to navigate mental health issues such as depression, anxiety and sadness.

Surah Aḍ-Ḍuḥā is a particularly powerful surah to reflect upon for that purpose. This surah was revealed to the Prophet  as reassurance, as he had not received any revelation for some time, which made him anxious and worried. It also gives hope to the believer:

وَلَلْآخِرَةُ خَيْرٌ لَّكَ مِنَ الْأُولَىٰ

And the future will be better for you than the past. (Surah Aḍ-Ḍuḥā, 93:4)

If you find it too difficult to read or understand the Quran because you do not know Arabic and do not want to rely solely on translations, consider finding an Arabic or Quran class to help you acquire the knowledge you need to improve your understanding and your relationship with Allah سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى.

Check out our infographic on the Top 10 Benefits of Having Quran in your Daily Life!

7. Practice Mindfulness

قَالَ: فَأَخْبِرْنِي عَنْ الْإِحْسَانِ
قَالَ: أَنْ تَعْبُدَ اللَّهَ كَأَنَّك تَرَاهُ، فَإِنْ لَمْ تَكُنْ تَرَاهُ فَإِنَّهُ يَرَاك

Then he (the man) said, “Inform me about Ihsan.” He (the Prophet) answered, “It is that you should serve Allah as though you could see Him, for though you cannot see Him yet He sees you.” (Extract: 40 Hadith Nawawi 2)

The Oxford English dictionary defines mindfulness as “a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.”

This is nothing new in Islam. The Prophet was practicing mindfulness in his everyday life by meditating, supplicating, remembering Allah سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى through dhikr, pondering, reflecting, contemplating, secluding himself from society at times, and remaining silent even in the presence of others when needed.

Reflecting on the narration mentioned above, we can see how mindfulness plays an essential role in trying to attain, the excellence, perfection and beautification of our awareness of Allah سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى. By focusing on the present moment in our actions, words and thoughts rather than keeping ourselves too busy with regretting our past actions (or lack thereof) or worrying about the future, we are better able to connect with our Creator and feel at peace with our present self.

An excellent way to start practicing mindfulness is by being more aware and cautious of what we eat and how we eat. Mindfulness in eating is definitely something that is highly emphasized in Islam as shown by many narrations such as the one below:

Miqdam bin Madikarib said: “I heard the Messenger of Allah ﷺ say: ‘A human being fills no worse vessel than his stomach. It is sufficient for a human being to eat a few mouthfuls to keep his spine straight. But if he must (fill it), then one third of food, one third for drink and one third for air.'” (Sahih (Darussalam), Vol. 4, Book 29, Hadith 3349)

In our busy lives, we tend to go for the easiest way to fill our stomachs, which means that we eat a lot of processed foods and we eat too fast, not giving time for our body to even signal if we are enjoying the food or if our hunger and thirst have been satisfied. Taking the time to prepare healthy meals and eat them can go a long way for our mental and physical wellbeing. Try to do this at least once a week, when you have more time to prepare a healthy meal (and that doesn’t mean hours in the kitchen!) and eat it without any distraction around you: no smartphone, no Netflix, no book, no work laptop. It is totally fine, and in fact, encouraged in the sunnah to enjoy a meal with others though, especially sharing a meal with family members as this helps develop bonding relationships – as long as there are no distractions around, as that would defeat the purpose of eating with them in the first place. It is also makes the process of eating slow down and allow your body to signal to your mind that you are feeling full.

As a side note, we also learn from the Prophetic tradition that at-talbina (a porridge made of barley flour, milk and honey, sometimes also dates or dried fruits) is specifically soothing for the heart and mind, as reported in the hadith below:

Narrated ‘Urwa: Aisha used to recommend at-talbina for the sick and for such a person as grieved over a dead person. She used to say, “I heard Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) saying, ‘At-talbina gives rest to the heart of the patient and makes it active and relieves some of his sorrow and grief.'” (Sahih al-Bukhari 5689)

We previously wrote a few more pieces of advice here.

8. Show Patience and Put Your Trust in Allah سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى

Suhaib reported that Allah’s Messenger ﷺ said: “Wonderful are the ways of a believer for there is good in every affair of his and this is not the case with anyone else except in the case of a believer for if he has an occasion to feel delight, he thanks (God), thus there is a good for him in it, and if he gets into trouble and shows resignation (and endures it patiently), there is a good for him in it.” (Sahih Muslim 2999)

Allah سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى is Al-Ḥakīm, the Most Wise, and He سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى is Khayru-l-Mākirīn, the Best of Planners. There are so many ayaat (verses) in the Quran and hadith that explain how Allah سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى knows what is best for us, and that there is wisdom behind everything that happens to us, good or bad. As difficult as it may feel sometimes, showing patience and renewing our trust in Allah سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى and the plans that He سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى has for us is the best course of action. Keep in mind the following when things become too difficult:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اسْتَعِينُوا بِالصَّبْرِ وَالصَّلَاةِ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ مَعَ الصَّابِرِينَ

O you who have believed, seek help through patience and prayer. Indeed, Allah is with the patient. (Surah Al-Baqarah, 2:153)

وَلَنَبْلُوَنَّكُم بِشَيْءٍ مِّنَ الْخَوْفِ وَالْجُوعِ وَنَقْصٍ مِّنَ الْأَمْوَالِ وَالْأَنفُسِ وَالثَّمَرَاتِ وَبَشِّرِ الصَّابِرِينَ

And We will surely test you with something of fear and hunger and a loss of wealth and lives and fruits, but give good tidings to the patient. (Surah Al-Baqarah, 2:155)

وَعَسَىٰ أَن تَكْرَهُوا شَيْئًا وَهُوَ خَيْرٌ لَّكُمْ وَعَسَىٰ أَن تُحِبُّوا شَيْئًا وَهُوَ شَرٌّ لَّكُمْ وَاللَّـهُ يَعْلَمُ وَأَنتُمْ لَا تَعْلَمُونَ

But perhaps you hate a thing and it is good for you; and perhaps you love a thing and it is bad for you. And Allah Knows, while you know not. (Surah Al-Baqarah, 2:216)

لَا يُكَلِّفُ اللَّـهُ نَفْسًا إِلَّا وُسْعَهَا

Allah does not burden any soul with more than it can bear. (Surah Al-Baqarah, 2:286)

إِنَّهُ لَا يَيْأَسُ مِن رَّوْحِ اللَّـهِ إِلَّا الْقَوْمُ الْكَافِرُونَ

Indeed, no one despairs of relief from Allah except the disbelieving people. (Surah Yūsuf, 12:87)

هُوَ الَّذِي خَلَقَ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ فِي سِتَّةِ أَيَّامٍ ثُمَّ اسْتَوَىٰ عَلَى الْعَرْشِ يَعْلَمُ مَا يَلِجُ فِي الْأَرْضِ وَمَا يَخْرُجُ مِنْهَا وَمَا يَنزِلُ مِنَ السَّمَاءِ وَمَا يَعْرُجُ فِيهَا وَهُوَ مَعَكُمْ أَيْنَ مَا كُنتُمْ وَاللَّـهُ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ بَصِيرٌ

It is He who created the heavens and earth in six days and then established Himself above the Throne. He knows what penetrates into the earth and what emerges from it and what descends from the heaven and what ascends therein; and He is with you wherever you are. And Allah, of what you do, is Seeing. (Surah Al-Ḥadīd, 57:4)

وَمَن يَتَوَكَّلْ عَلَى اللَّـهِ فَهُوَ حَسْبُهُ

And whoever relies upon Allah – then He is sufficient for him. (Surah Aṭ-Ṭalāq, 65:3)

مَا أَصَابَ مِن مُّصِيبَةٍ إِلَّا بِإِذْنِ اللَّـهِ وَمَن يُؤْمِن بِاللَّـهِ يَهْدِ قَلْبَهُ وَاللَّـهُ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ عَلِيمٌ

No disaster strikes except by permission of Allah. And whoever believes in Allah – He will guide his heart. And Allah is Knowing of all things. (Surah At-Taġābun, 64:11)

9. Check Your Consumption of Media – Yes, That Includes Social Media

اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي أَسْأَلُكَ عِلْماً نافِعاً، وَرِزْقاً طَيِّباً، وَعَمَلاً مُتَقَبَّلاً

O Allah, I ask You for knowledge which is beneficial and sustenance which is good, and deeds which are acceptable. (Hisnu-l-Muslim 73)

In our era of social media, instant gratification and 24/7 news, everything is just a click away. We spend so much time each day checking our Facebook Feed, our Instagram Stories, our news applications, the latest Netflix series that everyone is talking about even though it was just released today. We feel this urge to try and make sure we don’t miss anything. “Did they like my post? Did they check my Story? What’s happened in the world since I last checked 15 minutes ago?”

Technology is just a tool, but it can bring the best and the worst in us. Especially as we all spend more time at home due the Covid-19 pandemic, avoiding social interactions, we can easily fall into the trap of consuming even more posts, more news reports and more TV shows, which can then isolate us even more from the world around us and from what matters the most. Limiting the time we spend doing these things can greatly help with mental wellbeing, especially at a time when mainstream media are fueled by so much negativity and criticism.

Try to do some clean-up on your devices: are all these accounts that you follow on social media bringing anything positive to your life? Are all of these news applications and websites giving you beneficial knowledge of our world? Are you spending your time in a way that will help you not only in this life but also in the next? How much time are you spending on your devices versus with your family and friends (social distancing permitting, of course…)? Do this clean-up regularly.

10. Favor the Presence of Positive People

Narrated Abu Musa: Allah’s Messenger ﷺ said, “The example of a good companion (who sits with you) in comparison with a bad one, is like that of the musk seller and the blacksmith’s bellows (or furnace); from the first you would either buy musk or enjoy its good smell while the bellows would either burn your clothes or your house, or you get a bad nasty smell thereof.” (Sahih al-Bukhari 2101)

Similarly to the media clean-up, it is sometimes helpful – and at times even necessary – to do a clean-up of your company: are the people around you having a good, positive influence on you and your life, or are they affecting you in a negative way? Do they encourage you to do good, or are they bad examples? What we do and how we feel is largely impacted by the people who surround us, so it is important to favor the presence and company of those who will help us up rather than bring us down, especially in matters related to our faith. Do I remember Allah سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى when I am with my friends? Do we plan our get-togethers around prayer times, and do we pray together before we depart? Do we encourage one another to do more good deeds and stay away from doubtful matters? Pick your companions well:

وَمَن يُطِعِ اللَّـهَ وَالرَّسُولَ فَأُولَـٰئِكَ مَعَ الَّذِينَ أَنْعَمَ اللَّـهُ عَلَيْهِم مِّنَ النَّبِيِّينَ وَالصِّدِّيقِينَ وَالشُّهَدَاءِ وَالصَّالِحِينَ ۚ وَحَسُنَ أُولَـٰئِكَ رَفِيقًا

And whoever obeys Allah and the Messenger – those will be with the ones upon whom Allah has bestowed favor of the prophets, the steadfast affirmers of truth, the martyrs and the righteous. And excellent are those as companions. (Surah An-Nisa, 4:69)

11. Give

On the authority of Abu Hurayrah رضي الله عنه who said: The Messenger of Allah said, “Every joint of a person must perform a charity each day that the sun rises: to judge justly between two people is a charity. To help a man with his mount, lifting him onto it or hoisting up his belongings onto it, is a charity. And the good word is a charity. And every step that you take towards the prayer is a charity, and removing a harmful object from the road is a charity.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim, 40 Hadith Nawawi 26)

It may seem counterintuitive: how can I give to others when I feel sad, depressed and worried? How can I give from an empty cup? Many studies have actually shown that doing acts of kindness helps improve our self-esteem, our connection to others and support network, our sense of belonging in the world, and reduce feelings of isolation.

Acts of kindness can take on many different forms: from helping a relative with groceries to giving money in charity, from advising a friend to volunteering for a few hours a month at the nonprofit, from picking up trash from the ground (make sure to wear gloves or thoroughly wash your hands!) to greeting your neighbor. And yes, as we all know, smiling – which releases endorphins and helps a person feel happier and more positive – is a charity!

12. Think As a Community

Narrated An-Nu`man bin Bashir: Allah’s Messenger ﷺ said, “You see the believers, regarding their being, merciful among themselves and showing love among themselves and being kind, resembling one body, so that, if any part of the body is not well then the whole body shares the sleeplessness (insomnia) and fever with it.” (Sahih al-Bukhari 6011)

Self-care has become a really trendy word. Many organizations and businesses now include that in their mission, emphasize it during hiring interviews, and offer more paid time off. At the same time though, our workload and responsibilities (in the office or at home) are increasing, we are expected to respond to text messages and emails at all times because we have smartphones, and social media are taking up whatever we have left of free time. Self-care is meant as a personal responsibility, something that each of us is supposed to initiate on our own, but it is a communal responsibility to make sure that self-care is even possible to begin with.


As with everything else, the Quran and the sunnah offers us a practical and reassuring guide to help us cope with our mental health issues, no matter to what degree, but also to help others around us who might be in more difficult situations and need our support. The tips and wisdoms mentioned above are just a tiny fraction of this beautiful guide. So, do not despair – you are not alone.

فَإِنَّ مَعَ الْعُسْرِ يُسْرًا
إِنَّ مَعَ الْعُسْرِ يُسْرًا

For indeed, with hardship [will be] ease.
Indeed, with hardship [will be] ease.
(Surah Ash-Sharḥ, 94:5-6)

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