Take a little stress. Peel the outer layer. Give it a wash with lukewarm positivity water. Then grate with a detoxifier. Flavour with a little creativity and garnish with a pinch of mindfulness. There, you have the perfect stress slicer.
“How can we bring this culinary delight into our workaholic, consumer-driven, superficial world of work?”, I hear you ask. Well, I would like to present my stress slicing practical ways that we can filter our workspace:
1) The great outdoors
When the Prophet, peace be upon him, would come across something which he did not like, he would turn his face away from it. This teaches a very important principle of taking a step back from our life. During your lunch break, leave the building and explore the great outdoors. Find the antithesis of the negatives of your working life. A breath of fresh air counteracts the musty smell of disinfectant of your laptop, a brisk walk will fight against the deep ridden arthritis that sitting at your desk for 9 hours is going to eventually bring. The American Heart Association very succinctly summarised its findings into this research with a lovely phrase worthy of place in all health manuals:
“Sit less, move more.”
2) Beauty is in the eye of the beholder
The Prophet would like to look at citrus fruits. Blue is calming. The sky is blue. Green helps with colour pigmentation in the iris. The grass is green. Don’t you think Allah is trying to tell you something? According to Stephen Westland, Professor of Colour Science and Technology at the University of Leeds, bright, vibrant colours have an effect on the hypothalamus region of the brain (which affects mood, as well as body regulation and even sleep patterns).
So instead of throwing away that drawing of your toddler that looks like a rainbow’s been in a crash, use some of that stolen, blue tack from the supplies cupboard and splat that bad boy in your pinboard and gaze away. It’ll help destress (and create more love for your family).
3) Tears are words the heart can’t say
Crying was a regular practice of the Prophet; when he would listen to Quran recitation from the sahabah, when he would pray, and when he would make dua. Now, how does this apply to you at work? At the end of the day just before you go home, take a few moments for reflection. Of what? Your death. Your judgement. Your final abode. If you were to think of this, it would put all other worldly problems in context. Then your work problems and stresses would surely pale in comparison, no?
A study conducted by Dr. William H. Frey II, director of the Psychiatry Research Laboratories at the St. Paul-Ramsey Medical Centre, found that like other bodily processes like urinating and sweating, toxic substances are released from the body when we cry. Several of the chemicals present in emotional crying are the protein prolactin, adrenocorticotropic hormones, and the endorphin leucine-enkephalin, which reduces pain. So crying is actually a natural pain relief.
This practice is not only a consistent sunnah of our Prophet, but is so blessed that it even helps us in our bodily and mental health in this world as well.
4) The glass is always half full
The beloved words of the Prophet were always positive. The Prophet was not a curser, vulgar, or maligner as it mentions in the traditions. The spiritual benefits of always being positive are clear.
However, medical research now suggests that people that are positive in speech compared to pessimistic people are 13% less likely to have a heart attack or other coronary event, according to leading U.S health care system John Hopkins Medicine. So sticking to the sunnah such as smiling, being constructive rather than destructive, and being encouraging to others around you will have a positive impact on your health and general outlook, hence those lower levels of cortisol (sad hormone).
So in summary, a breath of fresh air, enlightening your work space, shedding a few drops of pain relief and always being positive can change your work life outlook, insha’allah.
Remember: when stress is at its highest, know that it can only go down.