Give this piece its due fair share and hang on right to the end as it does cut across careers, geographical and cultural demography, religion, generations and stress-levels. Whether you are a housewife, a father, business owner, student or a successful/aspiring executive, or even an artist trying to make it big.. this article will provide you the few clues to a peaceful day, and life. Specifically, those who have the tendency for burnout or depressive symptom, this piece will unravel some interesting and significant info.
Relax-lah! – Body, mind and soul
Do you know any routine for relaxation ? I bet you obviously do! We would go our own creative ways to relax our mind and body. Some stick to the routine which has been proven to work until some extent. There are many ways, hence the output variable will differ from 1 situation to another. A nap, some soothing music, a massage or facial for the ladies..and the list goes on. I wonder how adult males in different cultures relax when dealing with physical or mind stress. Some of us would even perhaps have eating under this list.. or a hot chamomile tea where its quiet and calm. . Different approaches targeting the same end in mind..Anyhow..
I had a whole day yesterday, and the evening was packed too attending an event. By the time I got home energy level has dipped but it did not exactly bother me. I was prepared to go to bed anyway. But after that 4 rakaat prayer (Isya’) I felt an instant recharge ! No, like seriously.. Something have kicked into my energy system and I don’t know what, and unfortunately won’t be explain to you how it took place. The feeling was kinda like that feel after a good massage, or after 1/2 hour quietly sitting by the sea side. Total relaxation!
AlQuds University and Malaya University studies
Being in the scholar mode.. I looked it up, and there are published studies looking into prayers and their affects on human behaviour. During solat, it has been discovered that parasympathetic activity increased, and sympathetic activity decreased. Therefore regular solat (as already prescribed) helps promote relaxation, reduce anxiety and reduce cardiovascular.
Let’s check out other forms of relaxation and healing found in the tradition of Islam, Qur’an and Seerah (Prophetic tradition):-
On catecholamines (point #7 in above list)
- Catecholamines are the major hormones/neurotransmitter in the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight response) (sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system forms major part of our autonomic nervous system)
- Catecholamines (adrenaline, noradrenaline and dopamine) acts as hormones, neurotransmitter and medication
- Adrenaline (epinephrine) has all 3 tributes; hormones, neurotransmitter, and medication
- Noradrenaline (norepinephrine) functions in the brain and body as hormones and neurotransmitters
- Dopamine functions in the brain as neurotransmitters and has its own dopamine pathways one of which is the reward-motivated behaviour
- Activation and release of these hormones occur during exercise, heart failure, emotional stress, when you become angry, or excitement, and pain
- circulating epinephrine causes among other increased heart rate and inotropy (heart contractility) and vasoconstriction at high level (vasodilation at low-med level)
- circulating norepinephrine has the same effect as epinephrine
Parasympathetic nervous system:
1.Stimulation of parasympathetic nervous system counters the effect of sympathetic nervous system by reducing heart rate, and counter the effects of catecholamines
2. Parasympathetic nervous system acts a brake when the sympathetic nervous system goes over drive. Dysfunction of this brake has its own health consequences, and dysfunction of any of the components of autonomic nervous system are related to diseases such as Parkinson’s Diseases and diabetes
3. Parasympathetic nervous systems become activated when a stress ends OR when a person undertakes coping strategy to calm down
4. Parasympathetic nervous system and its sympathetic counter part together acts to ensure homeostasis
5.Prayers have been found to help promote relaxation, minimize anxiety, and reduce cardiovascular risk through parasympathetic activites. (Dufesh, Ibrahim, Ismail and Wan Ahmad, 2014 )
On intermittent fasting
- Muslims are highly encouraged to fast outside Ramadhan. While Ramadhan observation takes a month, intermittent form of fasting is not obligatory
- It was narrated that ‘ (may Allaah be pleased with her) said: The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) was keen to fast on Mondays and Thursdays. Narrated by al-Tirmidhi, 745; al-Nasaa’i, 2361; Ibn Maajah, 1739; classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Targheeb, 1044 (islamqa.info)
- During this period of fasting, the G.I. system relaxes , and blood is shunt of to other systems for good use for our cognition, metabolism, longevity and immunity
- Mark Mattson, a professor of neuroscience led a group of scientist discovered and said that ‘depriving ourselves via fasting twice a week could significantly lower the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease or Parkinson’s’
- in the same article : “The findings resonate with decades-old studies that show a link between caloric intake and oxidative “rusting”—the stress on cells that comes when people get older and take in food. “One of the only ways to slow down the progression of aging that involves disease or organ malfunctions is to reduce energy intake,” says Mattson, who has been studying Alzheimer’s and the brain for 20 years and, according to Thomson Reuters’ database, is the most cited neuroscientist in scholarly journals worldwide”
Prayers and relaxation
- Going back to the earlier points on prayers (solat) — which activates the parasympathetic nervous system, through various ways, by one of which is called ‘relaxation response’
- Behavioural medicine pioneers reported on a time tested technique (relaxation response) that reverse aging and improves health
- Herbert Benson, MD, of Harvard Medical School discovered the power of relaxation response to reduce stress in the 1960s
- Surah An-Naml ayah 62 was revealed in the middle of Prophet Muhammad’s residency in Mecca (560-620 A.D.) brought the following message :-
- It is recorded in Musnad Ahmad and Sahih Abu Hatim on the authority of ‘Abdullah bin Mas’ud that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said,“Whoever was afflicted with grief and distress and says (see the following Dua), Allah, the Exalted and Ever-Majestic, will remove his grief and will change his sorrow into happiness.” It was said, “O Messenger of Allah! (Do) we have to learn these words?” He said, “Yes, whoever hears them should learn them.”
- Through deductive reasoning, it is apparent the gap of 1400 years is closing in to one thing.. discovery of modern science compliments teachings of the Quran and Hadith, and in some cases, the Quran and Hadith acts a completer for some gap in modern theories which normally begins with doubt. Where as Quran and Hadith begins with 1 single truth, and the believe that Allah Almighty is the bearer of all knowledge
So what’s next?
Now that we know a bit more how what we do, think, behave and react has short and long terms consequence to our body, mind and soul, it is hoped we maintain our choices wisely. Yelling at anyone does no one any good. There is this concept of balance we need to be aware of, and also targeting a long term goal of being healthy not just physically, but also mentally and spiritually. Some quick tips:-
- The next time you are stressed, anxiety loaded or just tired, think of the modalities pointed out by both science and religion. There are established ways to deal with these stressors and they DO NOT involve any substance taking/consuming/inhaling. Its au natural just that you need to be aware what and how (listen to human nature or fitrah)
- If you are already observing some of the positive and effective modalities above, perhaps this piece will explain to you the whys of the whats which you have been doing right. Maketh more sense doesn’t it?
- To every problem, there is a cure. To every cure, the end goal is to actually make the body&soul BETTER. Whichever ‘cure’ that looks cool at the very beginning, but at the end deteriorates your cognition and physical well-being;- than those modalities merely mimics and and acts as analogues of the physiological reactions taking place in your body. Most times we trick and lie to ourselves by believing these analogues do the job..but in the end, the harm afflicted impacts our physical and psychological well-being, it impacts livelihood and our loved ones before we even realise it — yes, I am talking about all the other substitutes we are taking be it alcohol, smoking, drug abuse and so on
- Also not to ignore practical approaches ie. work and time management,living more simply, eating and sleeping more healthily, maintain and build sincere relationships, show compassion towards others, surround ourselves with people who will lead and bring us to peace and tranquility in life, and make no enemies
- So… Relax-lah ! Just the un-harmful way, now that you are more informed
Yours in writing,
Credits to :
The power of the relaxation response
Dealing with stress, depression and anxiety
Effect of Muslim prayer (Salat) on α electroencephalography and its relationship with autonomic nervous system activity.
Islamic reminders: Almuttaqoon
Activate the Parasympathetic Nervous System to Improve Recovery (for athletes/personal trainers)
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