Salaam to everyone reading. How are you all this week? I’m Nabeeha Haque, a 14-year-old girl who has taken up blogging for her Bronze DofE. If you want to know more about me, please refer to my first blog about Dhul-Hijjah and Eid-ul-Adha. Anyways, in today’s blog, I will inform you about connections, including the different types of connections; how this is applicable in religion and everyday life; and, most importantly, how it applies to mental health.
What is a connection and what are the different types?
A connection is (Oxford dictionary):
This can refer to objects having a relationship with another object: a good example with objects could be a pencil and paper. In the same way, humans can also have connections with other humans. Human connections are seen as important, as they are close bonds with other humans formed through deep trust. There are also more casual examples (e.g. work relationships, and school relationships).
For human connections, a mother-daughter relationship is a good instance of a connection in humans.
Why is connection important in religion?
In Islam, the connection is fundamental. In fact, it is so important, it is the reason the Five Pillars of Islam exist. It is also the reason the Qur’an was sent down and most of the events in Islamic history happened, including the stories of the many Prophets of Islam.
In Islam, one of our main acts of worship, Salah, is connecting with our Lord. Other instances of maintaining our connection with Allah are: reading the Qur’an, going on the Hajj pilgrimage, fasting and observing the Shahadah. A prophetic story giving examples of connections is the Prophet Yunus’s story, although connections are explored a lot in the Qur’an. It is interesting to see how Yunus mends his connection with Allah after previously disobeying him.
What about connections in our daily lives?
The idea of connections can also be applied in our daily lives. As emphasised above, human connections can range from extremely close to casually sustained relationships with other people. However, they are all crucial to a human, with so many physical and mental health benefits. Connection with other people gives rise to the idea of interconnectedness, where all of us are connected. The well-known hadith ‘people are equal like the teeth of a comb’ also supports this. But I digress.
This era of phones and the absence of social connections has contributed to something called loneliness. Loneliness is the feeling of isolation and detachment from people and the inability to make meaningful connections. But this isn’t always down to being with other people. Other causes of loneliness include living alone, being away from friends or family, grief, etc. A lonely person, even if they’re in a crowd of a million people, will still feel isolated. They may have many friends and social life, but will not have a genuine connection with them. Although loneliness is not a diagnosable mental health condition, it can be a root cause of anxiety, depression and even physical illnesses such as Alzheimer’s, heart disease and many more. So how can we combat this and repair our connections in the real world where digitised connections have become commonplace?
Taking care of our connections with other people.
Connections can provide us with feelings of love and belonging, tackling feelings of loneliness. As a matter of fact, according to a hierarchy of needs, besides food, water and safety, love and belonging are incredibly crucial needs we must fulfil if we want to survive. Therefore, we must prioritise preserving our close connections. Ways we can do this are:
- Taking it slowly. Don’t rush talking to people and do things when you’re ready. Running into solutions quickly might damage your connections even more because they might lose their genuineness, which would not be much of an improvement. If you live alone, start small by talking to people you see daily. Try going outside regularly, admire the outdoors, and share smiles with other people. This will help your self-esteem levels rise, elevating your moods.
- Recognise that you’re not alone. Wherever you are, people are always there. There are more than 7 billion people surviving with you. Simply knowing this will give you some consolation that other people are around. Some people may know how you feel too. This relatability will make you feel more in touch with the world.
- Try reaching out to friends more often. Maybe be the first one to text your classmate on Instagram, they might appreciate it a lot. It might be the start of something new for you.
- Go to more social gatherings. They don’t have to be huge, maybe a night at the movies or an evening at a restaurant will be fine. In this way, you will familiarise yourself with talking and getting to know other people, which is a way of practising the art of interaction.
- If you don’t live with family, call them regularly (once a week is recommended). If you do, go on outings together more often to better your bond with them. We often take our family for granted and so it is important to let them know that you love them and they will return the feeling, reinforcing feelings of inclusiveness within your household.
- Join a group or community that does something you like at school or privately. If you’re with people who share a common interest, you will immediately feel better about yourself. After all, when humans unite, they can do incredible things.
- Volunteer or help with charity work. This is very highly regarded in Islam too, in Surah Al-Maun (The Small Kindnesses) and it discusses charity, almsgiving and giving to the poor and orphans, This will make us feel infinitely better as the feeling of helping someone can help with feeling satisfied and make you feel like you’ve made a difference, which can be life-changing.
- Open up about how you feel to other people. This will feel like a cargo plane unloading its goods: you will feel much lighter. It will also enhance your connection with the person you share your feelings with, as you will inevitably build trust with them.
- Reach out to a therapist. In your journey with your therapist, you will build a sturdy connection and unbreakable trust, restoring your ability to communicate with other people and, with time, finally help you repair any broken connections you have.
Just a reminder…
Make sure to take care of yourselves every day. Don’t over-exert or tire yourself and prioritise physical and mental wellbeing. If you are well, you can do everything.
Useful support networks to help with connections.
In the event of extreme loneliness, if you go to school, it is worth telling a trusted adult, who can arrange for help and a counsellor for you. I know this because I go to school counselling myself. You can also phone a helpline, where the responders are all professionally trained to help. In particular, the Muslim Youth Helpline is a treasured resource for mental health, with expert mental health first aiders. Perhaps you can even reach out to your community and be open about your feelings, which can be challenging but beneficial in the long term.
Wow, that was a lot of tips thrown around in one day! I hope wherever you are, you can continue keeping healthy connections with whoever you love or meet. Assalamu alaikum, brothers and sisters, have a great day, and I hope you have learnt something new or been reminded of something very important.