The juggling act women or men usually face between work and family is very tedious and difficult to manage successfully. How do you plan ahead to avoid the obvious pitfalls and anticipate the unexpected twists life throws at you? I have come up with a simple solution: “Go with the Flow.” This might seem as an antithesis to what most articles advise but bear with me and follow these ten simple yet flexible rules.

 

  1. Prioritize your tasks for the day. Buy a pretty diary (doesn’t have to be too expensive) and use it to jot down your tasks the night before. I realize that smart phones do all that for you, but take a few moments to gather your thoughts, sit down in seclusion (I do this in the laundry room), and jot down everything you must accomplish that day. Do not write down things that can wait for another day. This is your next twenty-four hours’ hot list. There should be only three to five items on the list so that it is flexible enough add two more to, if required. This is your self-analysis. Seerah teaches us that the Prophet’s (sa) day consisted of spiritual development, family time, and personal/social interaction. The questions to ask while jotting down tasks are:
    1. What is worth spending an hour on?
    2. What comes first?
    3. What is a must-do and what is good-to-do?

 

  1. Plan your day around Salah. Salah provides meditation time, an opportunity to get away from the world and focus on only you and Allah (swt). It also provides low-impact exercise when performed correctly. Praying Salah will make you will feel energized as this is something you have done purely for yourself during the day, and you have done it five times, not just for half an hour at the gym or one hour on Facebook and WhatsApp (which are complete time-destroyers).

 

  1. Understand your environment. This means to accept reality. For example, if you have domestic help, your tasks and priorities will be considerably different from someone who must do all the household chores for the family. Do not get upset and wish for what you do not have, and learn to deal with what you have. The ground reality is that not everyone has it all. Once you plan and accept your responsibilities happily, you will be stress-free and healthier.

 

  1. ME Time. This could be a seven-minute shower at the end of the day, instead of a five-minute one, a walk in the park, or thirty minutes of reading and relaxing with a cup of coffee or whatever you are passionate about. Basically, treat it as your power down activity of the day. It is an activity you do alone, with no one interrupting you. Impossible, you say? Not really. Once your family realizes that this is the time you have set aside for yourself, they will be trained to comply. Be firm when interrupted. You might be interrupted again, but after a few times with the same response – polite yet firm – your family will learn to respect your time.

 

  1. The Buddy Network. A support system is essential for healthy living. These could be friends, family, or co-workers. Basically, everyone needs help and shouldn’t be afraid to ask for it. Nurturing strong ties with other women in situations similar to yours regarding work and family will aid in coping with common anxiety triggers. Just talking to someone, lending an ear, and being reassured that you are not alone helps boost confidence. Once you have a family, your priorities change, so align yourself with people who have the same goals both spiritually and physically. Rasulullah (sa) had the Sahabah, a blessing from Allah (swt).

 

  1. Exercise! Psychologists studying how exercise relieves anxiety and depression suggest that a 10-minute walk may be just as good as a 45-minute workout. Exercise is also considered to be vital for maintaining mental fitness, and it can reduce stress. Studies show that it is very effective at reducing fatigue, improving alertness and concentration, and enhancing overall cognitive function. When stress affects the brain, the rest of the body feels the impact as well. Scientists have discovered that regular participation in aerobic exercise decreases overall levels of tension, elevates and stabilizes mood, and improves sleep and self-esteem. About five minutes of aerobic exercise can begin to stimulate anti-anxiety effects.

 

  1. Do not compare. Be content with what Allah (swt) has granted you. Do not get into the ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ mentality, as it will only destroy you. Remember that the Prophet (sa), who commanded the Muslim Ummah, lived simply. In every social circle, we have that one friend who travels the world, or that colleague who buys designer clothes only, or that cousin whose kids go to the most expensive private club/school. Remember: “Verily! We have made that which is on earth as an adornment for it, in order that We may test them (mankind) as to which of them are best in deeds.” (Al-Kahf 18:7)

 

  1. Perfection is for Allah (swt). Don’t get me wrong. Try and excel at everything you attempt. However, if, for example, your house is not perfectly clean, just relax, and spend that extra fifteen minutes listening to your kids tell you about their day at school. Just let go and dismiss unimportant things from your mind. Relieve the tension. Do yourself a favour – the world will not end if your laundry is not done now. The problem of a perfectionist is in trying to satisfy everyone, whether or not it is reasonable, every day. Psychologist Alice Domar has a simple recipe for making women’s lives easier: accept the fact that perfection is unattainable. After that, the Monday morning meeting is a piece of cake. (Boston Globe)

 

  1. Smart Phone. Make your smart phone work for you. There are literally a million apps you can install to help you in your quest for healthy living. You can track your exercise (runtastic), download and read books (kindle), learn a new language (duolingo), play word games (letterpress), memorize Quran (iTajweed), read the news (circa), get medical advice (healthtap), listen to expert lectures (TED), and so much more. Do not limit yourself to Facebook and Twitter; they actually waste your time and begin the downward spiral of tension. Be smart with your time.

 

  1. Be an early riser. Fajr is the most important spiritual meal of the day, just like breakfast is for the body. Go to bed at a decent hour. A tired person is not a functional person; plus tiredness will only increase the level of your anxiety and stress during the day.