Winter's in full swing and 2023 is nearly out, which only means one thing... 'New year, new you' culture is right around the corner and we're about to be made to feel like we should be doing (even) more with ourselves. Don't get me wrong, I love boosting my productivity as much as the next person and honestly speaking, a new year does actually inspire me to make a few changes in my life. The vision boards are elaborate and the list of goals is lengthy with ambition!
The only caveat here is that... I'm tired.
There, I said it. It's nearing the end of December and I honestly feel like I'm running out of steam. I know I'm not the only one because this time of year - particularly these final weeks - leaves many of us feeling as though our cups are empty and we'd rather do anything else in the world than acknowledge a new email that's come in. If everything's feeling a little rough, you may just be on the cusp of burnout.
In a world that moves at an ever-accelerating pace, burnout has become a common challenge, affecting people from all walks of life. It's a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. However, for those seeking solace and guidance, the teachings of Islam offer profound wisdom. Here are 7 Islamic teachings to help us navigate and overcome burnout in 2024!👇
1. Embracing the Concept of Balance (Mizan)⚖️
The Quran emphasizes the importance of balance in life. Allah says, “And the heaven He raised and imposed the balance. That you not transgress within the balance.” (Quran, 55:7-8). This verse encourages us to seek balance in our personal and professional lives. Overworking or neglecting self-care leads to imbalance, which is contrary to the teachings of Islam. By striving for a balanced lifestyle, we can prevent burnout and maintain our well-being.
2. The Power of Prayer and Reflection🤲
Prayer in Islam is not just a ritual; it's a moment of connection with Allah, offering mental peace and spiritual calmness. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said, “O Bilal, call iqamah for the prayer: give us rest by it.” (Abu Dawood). This Hadith highlights how prayer was seen as a source of comfort and rest. In times of stress and overwhelming workloads, turning to prayer can provide a respite and a moment to recenter our thoughts.
3. Seeking Knowledge and Self-Understanding🧠
Islam places a high value on the pursuit of knowledge. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said, “Seeking knowledge is an obligation upon every Muslim.” (Ibn Majah). Understanding the signs of burnout, learning stress management techniques, and educating ourselves about mental health are in line with this teaching. Knowledge empowers us to recognize and address the early signs of burnout and ultimately, prevention is better than cure!
4. The Importance of Community Support🫂
The Islamic concept of Ummah, or community, emphasizes the importance of social support. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said, “The believers, in their affection, mercy, and compassion for each other, are like one body: when any part aches, the whole body reacts with sleeplessness and fever.” (Bukhari and Muslim). In dealing with burnout, seeking support from friends, family, and community members can be incredibly beneficial.
5. Practicing Gratitude and Patience🗝️
Gratitude (Shukr) is a central theme in the Quran. Allah says, “If you are grateful, I will surely increase you [in favor]” (Quran, 14:7). In moments of burnout, focusing on the aspects of our life that we are grateful for can shift our mindset and reduce stress. Similarly, patience (Sabr) is praised in the Quran, “O you who have believed, seek help through patience and prayer. Indeed, Allah is with the patient.” (Quran, 2:153). Patience helps in coping with the challenging phases of life, including burnout.
6. Valuing Rest and Self-Care❤️🩹
The Sunnah (the way of the Prophet Muhammad) teaches us the importance of rest. The Prophet (peace be upon him) would divide his time between worship, work, and rest. He said, “Take benefit of five before five: your youth before your old age, your health before your sickness, your wealth before your poverty, your free time before you are preoccupied, and your life before your death.” (Tirmidhi). This Hadith encourages us to value and take care of our health and well-being.
7. Trusting Allah's Plan💭
Islam teaches us to have trust (Tawakkul) in Allah's plan. The Quran says, “...And whoever relies upon Allah – then He is sufficient for him...” (Quran, 65:3). In times of stress and burnout, reminding ourselves that we are not alone and that there is a greater plan for us can provide immense relief and perspective.
Burnout can be overwhelming, but the teachings of Islam offer a holistic approach to managing and overcoming it. By emphasizing balance, prayer, knowledge, community support, gratitude, patience, self-care, and trust in Allah, Islam provides a framework for not just coping with burnout, but thriving despite it. These principles encourage us to look after our mental, physical, and spiritual health, reminding us that in the pursuit of worldly success, we must not neglect the well-being of our soul.
Remember, burnout isn't a badge of honour and rest is a requirement, not a reward!