“In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful. Have We not expanded thee thy breast? And removed from thee thy burden? That which did gall thy back? And raised high the esteem (in which) thou (art held)?

“ So verily, with every difficulty, there is relief. Verily, with every difficulty there is relief. Therefore, when thou art free (from thine immediate task), still labor hard. And to thy Lord turn (all) thy attention.” (Qur’an: Al-Inshirah 94:1-8)

With every difficulty, there is relief.  These words have sustained me throughout my life. During the time of COVID-19, it is important to feed our mind and soul with positivity.  

As someone thriving with mental illness, it has been especially important to focus on core beliefs that uplift the essence. It hasn’t been an easy feat while listening to stories of sickness and viewing social media news feeds where parents, friends and loved ones are dying. As this is reality, it is essential to hold onto as much light as possible. 

Here are a few strategies that can brighten up your life. 

You have to find positivity wherever you can because there is always positivity even when it appears to be absent. Allah’s mercy is abundant. 

People now have more time than ever for recreation because of the closures. Parents can spend more time with families, the environment is able to breathe with less pollution, and people can eat healthier with less opportunity for take-out. Hold on to these gifts! 

I also suggest limiting access to Social media. It can be a mood depressant. I recommend finding articles that are positive. I read one article that mentioned the thousands of people who are fully recovered from the virus. 

News of recovery is definitely a mood enhancer! There are more people recovering than dying, which is a blessing. 

As this may be true, it is important to take COVID-19 seriously. African Americans are dying from the virus in disproportionate cases when compared to other races.

Ultimately, it is critical to look at the complete picture. It is about balance, which is something we have to fight for in these imbalanced times. A practice to stay balanced is connecting with people who ground you.  

You can have virtual game nights, Zoom meetings, Google duo and Face time group chats. If there is that one person or people that brighten your day, make a point to see their smiling faces. Prophet Muhammad (saw) said a smile is Sunnah.  Right now, we need an abundance of smiles.  

As we move in a positive manner, it is important to address all aspects of our being with self-care. Self-Care, self-care and more self-care is crucial. This is something that has saved me from a deep depression. 

Self-Care can look differently depending on your lifestyle. For me, it involves exercising daily, eating right with a lot of vegetables (Broccoli, Kale, Brussels sprouts are immune-boosting), supplements, drinking half my weight in water, praying five times a day and watching silly movies. 

For all of my gym fanatics, try Youtube for free! There are a ridiculous amount of exercise videos you can access with just a simple search. If that doesn’t do it for you, go for a walk and get some Vitamin D. Allah’s creation is healing. 

I personally enjoy the “Dance with Jessica” online workout program. It costs $20 a month, and you have access to dance workouts and HIIT (High Interval Intensity Training) which is a lot of burpees, squat jumps and weight training. Super fun, I know!  

Exercise is one aspect, but it is more beneficial to eat healthily. When you eat unhealthily, it impacts your soul. You ever eat something bad and physically feel good?  The answer is no. Your emotions might feel better briefly, but your body usually feels bloated and weighed down.

The same is true when you feed your mind with negativity. Your mind and soul become weighed down, which darkens the spirit.  

At the end of the day, we will be released from these sanctions on Allah’s time.  The Qadr of Allah is infinite and determined. So, right now, reflect on His mercy and how He wants you to grow.  

As we are in the midst of the battle, know that we will be better when we get through it. What is life without struggle? It is no life…. 

May Allah keep us all safe and may we prosper in wealth, health and spirit!

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