Ayesha Aslam

Mind Full or Mindful

Mind Full or Mindful

Dr Zuhra Ahmad and Ayesha Aslam’s pilot research on Mental Health awareness in school aged children using mindfulness was chosen and published.  We were asked to deliver a presentation in Birmingham and we won best oral presentation. 

Published in: Archives of DISEASE IN CHILDHOOD, May 2019, Volume 104 Supplement 2

Mind Full or Mindful

Background:

The prevalence of mental ill health in primary school-aged children is increasing and occurs in up to 1 in 10 children. Mental Health problems cause distress and greatly impact educational attainment, physical health and building social relationships. There is little data on mental health issues in primary school-aged children amongst ethnic minorities. Mental health issues are often unrecognised and not addressed in this population. Mindfulness techniques have been found to improve mental health and well being in children.

Aims:

To increase mental health awareness and teach mindfulness skills to primary school-aged children from ethnic minority groups.

Methods:

A prospective, pilot health promotion programme was conducted to assess recruitment rates, prior knowledge and prevalence of mental ill health, and usefulness of mindfulness on primary school-aged children from ethnic minority backgrounds. Children, accompanied by a parent, attended once weekly mindfulness sessions for six weeks over the summer vacation. Self advised questionnaires were completed by parents at the start and end of the health promotion.

Results:

Twenty three primary school-aged children (6.5+-2.1 yr) participated in the pilot health promotion programmer. Children were from Pakistani, Indian and Bangladeshi backgrounds. Parents felt 30+- 22% of primary school-aged children are affected by mental health issues. Seventy nine percent of parents ‘strongly agreed’ that promotion of mental health was important for their child. Importantly, 36% of parents felt their child was currently encountering stress and anxiety or encountered stress and anxiety. Major stressors for children as perceived by their parents included school studies, new situations, parental stress, and relationship with friends and health issues including eczema. The sessions were received well and parents rated the mindfulness sessions as ‘fun’, ‘useful’, ’crucial and a ‘vital skill’.

Conclusions:

Perception of mental health problems in families of ethnic backgrounds varies greatly. Importantly, parents reported that some children have continued engaging with mindfulness skills taught in the health promotion sessions. Further sessions have been requested. More research and mental health promotion is needed in ethnic minority communities.

Islam and Counselling Training in Thailand

Islam and Counselling Training in Thailand

Islam and counselling Training in Thailand.

A great opportunity where I delivered training to a large organisation on how they would work with their clients. The organisation worked  with a cross section of the community and were particularly interested in utilising counselling skill as well as how to work with Muslim clients, across diverse cultures.

It was surprising that English being their second language the learners were able to easily grasp the key concepts and apply it into their role.  We had lots of fun during the training and I enjoyed seeing the transformation from beginning to end.

I was humbled by the learners who were hard working, committed and showed a huge amount of respect to the Tutor (myself) with great positivity, enthusiasm and eagerness to learn more.

Alhumdulilah at the end of the course, I received positive praise from the Learners as well as managers and the Observers who all gave me 5 stars.

Social Environment

After a long day at work, I would venture out, visit heritage and taste the local Cuisine. Before going to Thailand, I was informed by many not to venture out as it was not seen as a safe place. However, I found the people to be friendly, polite, and considerate. They went out of their way to find me halal food. As a Muslim who wears the headscarf I found Thailand to be more safe than London.

As some of you may be aware that I love my food and it was  great to see that they have their priorities in  place where you would order you lunch in the morning before you start the day. I think I may have put on weight and I have no idea how the women in that country stay slim with all the delicious food.

Even though it was a long journey, I will not forget my Learners who made my stay extra special

If you would like to know more about our corporate training than please contact us and we can help you provide a happier, productive workforce

Self Esteem: 7 Basic steps  to make a difference

Self Esteem: 7 Basic steps to make a difference

How Can I Build My Self Esteem?

(7 Basic Steps to Make a Difference)

Improving self-esteem is basically improving how you view and value yourself. While some have a high self-esteem by nature, there are also some who need to work on further developing it. After all, the lack of self-esteem is often one of the reasons why we are afraid to try out new things, and it also affects our productivity.

How to Build Self-Esteem

  1. Believe in yourself

Everything starts with believing yourself. If you, yourself, don’t believe in your own capabilities, then how can you expect others to believe in you? Instead of saying that you can’t do something, why not at least try doing it before you give up? Also, it would be best for you to develop a positive thinking so that you will not easily back out on the challenges that you will face in your life.

As much as possible, you shouldn’t also worry about what other people think about you or about what you are doing (as long as you don’t step on other people’s toes). What’s important is that you are enjoying yourself.

  1. Know what you want to do

The results would be so much better if you choose to do something because you love doing it or you are passionate about it and not because you are forced to do it. Instead of doing things just to please the people around you, you should do the things that can make you feel happy.

Also, it is important to keep in mind that you cannot please everyone no matter how much you try improving yourself. So, just because a certain someone is not pleased with you doesn’t mean that others feel the same. There would surely be someone who appreciates your efforts.

  1. Write down your strengths and weaknesses

Although you might not be good in everything, for sure, there are some areas where you are good at. So, list them all down. If you can’t think of anything, then you can ask your family and friends who have been with you for a long time.

Of course, don’t forget to list down your weaknesses as well and then challenge yourself to become better at it. When doing this, you can consider the Quran and Sunnah as your guide to help determine what you did right and what you did wrong.

  1. Spend time with people who appreciate you

In times when you don’t even appreciate yourself and the efforts you have exerted, spend some time with people who appreciate and love you. Being surrounded with people who show you that you are also someone valuable is a great way for you to start improving yourself since they can provide you great support, especially when you are experiencing difficulties

Moreover, they can also make you feel better about yourself. Whenever you start doubting yourself, think of the compliments that you have received before, and you will surely feel better.

  1. Be mindful of your appearance

This tip for improving self-esteem does not necessarily mean that you should try your hardest to be pretty, but this only means that you should at least look clean, decent, and presentable. So, wear a modest Islamic outfit. If you look good, then you would also feel good about yourself. You will also have more confidence when dealing with other people.

  1. Stop comparing yourself to others

No matter how good the people around you are, you still shouldn’t think lowly of yourself. Just because other people are able to do the things that you cannot do doesn’t necessarily mean that you are lesser than them. So, if you find yourself comparing to others whenever you use social media, then it would be best for you to avoid using it.

  1. Learn to celebrate

Accomplished something on your list? Well, no matter how big or small your accomplishment is, you should celebrate. It can be as simple as treating yourself to a good meal or buying something that you have always wanted to buy. Also, don’t forget to praise yourself for you deserve it.

 

There you have it— some basic tips on how to build self-esteem. Try them out and you will surely find more happiness and satisfaction as you have just overcome one of your barriers in life. However, you should always keep in mind that too much of it can also be destructive.

Self help Islam and Anxiety

Self help Islam and Anxiety

Anxiety self help

#combatdepression

Self help Islam and Anxiety

We all experience difficulties in our life’s and as Muslims we should know that this is a test from Allah. In fact that this is something Muslims firmly believe in, that going through difficult times is inevitable.

{Do people think they will be left alone and they will not be tried? …} ( Al-`Ankbut  29:3)

And certainly, We shall test you with something of fear, hunger, loss of wealth, lives and fruits, but give glad tidings to As-Sabirin (the patient ones, etc.). Al-Baqra Verse No:155

Even the Prophet went through difficult times. For examples when his son Ibrhim passed away to the next life. The prophet felt sadness, expressed his emotions through tears and grief.

Then he wept more and said, “The eyes are shedding tears and the heart is grieved, and we will not say except what pleases our Lord, O Ibrahim! Indeed we are grieved by your separation.”  Bukhari; Book 23, hadith 1228

Allah gives us reward through affliction

It’s important to remember that as Muslims Allah has not left us but rather he wants us to get closer to him however we must also seek professional help where necessary. For example when we re ill we go to see a GP to aid recovery. Just like if you are suffering from a Mental Health condition you should seek help from a Qualified professional Counsellor that is in congruence with your faith.

Allah encourages us to seek help

Anxiety is something that we cannot escape given the adversities that we may experience everyday. Anxiety is a condition that doesn’t show itself out of nowhere. It slowly gets on us without us really knowing.

Depression is a condition that brings us down and makes us feel like life is not worth it anymore. It slowly creeps its way into our system and turns us into a kind of person who isn’t enthusiastic about life anymore.

What makes matters more alarming is that both of these mental conditions are very common in every part of the world and may inflict anyone. Fortunately, they can be overcome by knowing how to cope with anxiety and depression.

I will be discussing some of the ways on how to know if you have anxiety or depression, how anxiety leads to depression in the long run and vice versa, as well as some tips on how to overcome them. Overall we’ll discuss how to cope with anxiety and depression in the comfort of your own home.

What is Anxiety and How it May Lead to Depression and Vice Versa

What exactly is anxiety?

Anxiety is often described as an unpleasant feeling that we all experience such as always being uptight, nervous, tense or irritable. It may affect how we think and behave as excessive worry may prevent us from doing things that we need and want to do. Anxiety causes us to feel worried for a long period of time even if the worry doesn’t have any basis.

But it’s normal to worry or feel anxious about some things in life. In fact, it can often be helpful. For example, worrying about how you’ll pass your exam, driving test,  acing that interview, you then prepare yourself by studying and as a result of being motivated by that concern is good. How do you know if it is good or bad anxiety? Well according to research It’s been found that symptoms of anxiety are much more frequent when the condition known as generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is present. General worriers tend to spend an average of 56 minutes a day worrying, while people with GAD often spend over 300 minutes a day worrying — over five times as much.

Another thing to know about anxiety is that it goes hand in hand with depression. They are two very different conditions but are often seen in tandem with each other. If you want to know how to cope with anxiety and depression, then you need to understand how one relates to the other.

Sometimes having anxiety may lead to depression because being constantly worried will drag you down, filling you with negative thoughts that eventually lead to depression. Having depression may also lead to anxiety because depression slows productivity which eventually leads to long-term worries and anxiety. Once you know how to cope with anxiety and depression, you can relax without having to worry about one condition breeding the other.

Symptoms of Anxiety

For symptoms, there are four categories of symptoms to know whether you have anxiety or not, namely: physical, thoughts, emotions, and behavior.

  • Let’s start with the physical symptoms that you may have. Some symptoms would include tension, muscular pain, dizziness, chest pain, trembling, shaking, and palpitations.
  • For thoughts, you would often ask to worry about if something bad happens, you would always look at the worst case scenario, your mind is always on alert, and you often worry all the time.
  • For emotional symptoms, you would often feel nervous, panicky, or stressed. You’d also feel very irritable and would have a short temper.
  • Lastly, you would have behavioral symptoms. If you feel like wanting not to do things you like, often pace around, get spooked easily, talk too fast, and get angry at people too fast.

Self-Help Tips for Anxiety

Now that we know more about anxiety and its links to depression, let’s go deeper into knowing the tips on how to cope with anxiety and depression. In the next two sections, we’ll be learning effective and proven methods on how to cope with anxiety and depression.

The prevention tips are split into two kinds, the mental tips, which are tips that are focused on trying to change our state of mind and the lifestyle tips which focus on lifestyle changes that may affect our mental state.

Mental Tips

  1. Understanding more about anxiety

If you want to know how to cope with anxiety and depression, you have to understand them. Let’s start with anxiety.

One thing that we should understand is that anxiety is a daily part of our lives. We experience anxiety every day when we look at our unpaid bills, when we are called to the boss’ office or before we receive our report card. The anxiety that is caused by adverse situations is known as a fight or flight response that we develop in order to help fight away the danger. This is actually an evolutionary response that our ancestors used back in the days of primal survival. However, our minds have already been accustomed or used to the fight or flight response, so even if there is no need to turn on our “survival mode,” the mind still turns it on. It is because of this that we still experience anxiety even if there is no danger but just some small adversity. In a sense, anxiety is our fight or flight response which is kicked into auto-pilot.

  1. Control Unhelpful Thoughts

What makes anxiety a danger to our mental state is the fact that when we worry about adverse situations that can be rather unrealistic. When this happens, it’s very important to know how to control these unhelpful thoughts. For example, a person with social anxiety who is about going into a room full of people may think that no one will like him or her. This is an example of a ‘worry’ feeling that really has no basis. To control unhelpful thoughts, we must first identify it.

Below are the cues to show what an unhealthy thought is:

◻ Predicting the Future

◻ Assuming What Another Person is Thinking about You

◻ Exaggerating or Blowing Situations Out of Proportion

◻ Pressuring Yourself to Follow a Societal Standard

◻Using the Outcome of One Situation as a Generalization for the Outcome of All Other Situations

◻ Labeling Yourself

When you are thinking thoughts that fall into any of these categories, it will help if you list them down. After you do, ask the following questions:

  • Does My Thought Have Any Basis?

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  • What Category Does My Unhelpful Thought Fall In?

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  • What Would I Tell a Friend If He or She Have This Unhealthy Thoughts?

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  • What are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Harboring this Thought?

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  • Is There Any Way to Perceive the Situation?

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  1. Improving your problem-solving skills

Beefing up on your problem-solving skills is one very good way to help your anxiety problems. We would generally develop anxiety whenever we have problems piled in our thoughts. When these unresolved problems just pile up and pile up, we would drown in them and not solve any of them. Just think of it like getting a credit card loan– if you don’t pay the principal amount, the interest just piles up until we drown in it. In order to fix this, we have to create a system on how we can fix our unresolved issues one by one until they’re totally wiped out.

Here is a systematic outline on how to approach problems one by one:

  • Make a List of Your Problems and List them in Order of Priority
  • Identify the Problem (What exactly is the problem?)
  • Make a List of Possible Solutions for the Problem
  • Choose the Best Solution from the List
  • Create the Steps on How to Carry Out the Solution
  • Carry Out the Solution and Evaluate Whether it Worked
  • Choose a Different Solution if it Didn’t Work

With these steps, you can systematically solve each of your problems one by one.

  1. Learning how to reduce the amount of time you spend worrying

Lastly, you have to learn how to decrease your worry time. One technique to do this would be to create a “worry time”. Outside of your worry time, probably for just 20 minutes, try to take out all thoughts in your head. When you’re in your worry time, time yourself with a timer so that you can limit it. While you’re in your “worry time,” try to make up as many solutions as possible and list them down. Try to solve them again in the next worry time.

 

Lifestyle Tips

Those are some mental tips on how to curb your anxiety. However, for you to overcome anxiety and depression fully, there are some lifestyle changes that you need to obey, such as:

  1. Eat Well

Always eat a balanced meal curbing unhealthy processed foods, too much sweets, and too much carbs.

  1. Exercise Regularly

Regular exercise helps you emit happy hormones and create a “high” that can curb anxiety.

  1. Learn to Relax

Pick up some activities that can help you relax like sports, yoga, or meditation.

  1. Do Something You Like

One of the symptoms of anxiety is that you stop doing things that like to do. Try going back to doing what you like to do so that you can be happy.

  1. Avoid Alcohol and Drugs

Whatever you do, avoid drugs and alcohol because it won’t make your anxiety go away. It would make you even more destructive.

  1. Talk to a Loved One

Lastly, talk to a loved one. Opening up to a trusted family member or friend will help you, not only to vent out your worries but also to make you feel that there is someone there for you.

Read our next article on depression