Psychologists agree that a person needs about three weeks to develop a good habit. If you’ve been praying regularly, fasting, controlling your temper, trying to be more patient, or keeping any other good habit during Ramadan, you’re almost sure, Insha Allah, to keep up with it afterwards.
Nonetheless, we all slip up. As well, the drive that pushes us to do good in Ramadan is usually not as strong as in the rest of the year. Here are a few things you can do to maintain the good habits you picked during Ramadan:
1. Fast Twice a Week
Try fasting two days a week after Ramadan. Fasting will not only help you improve spiritually, but also on the health level. Scientific research has shown that intermittent fasting is beneficial for the body and mind.
Fasting has also been shown to result in physical and mental benefits, such as improved memory, sleep, concentration and increased energy. Occasional fasting has also shown to accelerate the activity and growth of nerve cells.
To follow the sunnah of the Prophet (PBUH), try to fast on Mondays and Thursdays.
Abu Hurayrah (RA) reported that the Messenger of Allah said:
“Deeds are presented on Monday and Thursday, and I love that my deeds be presented while I am fasting.” [Tirmidhi]
2. Keep the Sadaqah Flowing
Keep the sadaqah flowing and reap the mental health rewards of giving. If you were giving regularly during Ramadan, continue to do so after Ramadan.
The act of giving, whether of your finances, skills or time, is extremely rewarding not only in the Hereafter but also here on Earth.
Evidence has shown that small gestures of kindness or more significant ones, such as volunteering in the community, can substantially increase your overall sense of happiness and satisfaction.
3. Set a time for Qur’an
On a weekly basis, work out when you will have the time to read the Qur’an and associated activities that you are focusing on. Are you able to have a set time? It is great if you can but if not, do not panic. Use whatever time you have to do as much as you can.
4. Focus on understanding
As well as reciting the Qur’an, make time to read the translation and tafsir. This could be by reading them on your own, or by attending classes at a local masjid or institute.
Allah says that the Qur’an is “a guidance for the people and clear proofs of guidance and criterion.” [Qur’an: Chapter 2, Verse 184]
We should not miss out on obtaining this guidance because we do not understand the language. Make it a goal to learn Arabic, however in the meantime, utilize the translated works available to understand, absorb and implement the message of the Qur’an in your daily life.
5. Implement what you learn
The stories in the Qur’an are full of lessons. Take time to ponder over them and ask yourself how you can implement what you have learned into your life? The Qur’an highlights for us the imperfections we have, whilst giving us the ideas on how to change for the best.
Whatever portion you read, ask yourself how you can change your life based on it. Keep a journal with the points you have learned and how you will work towards developing a personality complementary to the Qur’an. Remember the hadith of Aishah :
“The character of the Messenger of Allah was the Qur’an.” [Abu Dawud]
6. Make dua
In many stories in the Quran Allah shows us the power of Duaa. Don’t give up your list of Duaa that you had In Ramadan.
Always ask Allah to help you in your quests and make it a habit to ask Him for forgiveness and refuge from hellfire every day.
7. Get a friend to help
What are friends for anyway? If you’ve got a close friend you feel you can share your new habit with, let them join you in keeping up with it and keeping tabs on you while they’re at it. This will not only encourage you, but Insha Allah, it’ll deepen your brother/sisterhood as well.
Alternatively, look for groups where you can maintain the habit. If, for instance, you memorized Quran regularly in Ramadan and want to keep the habit, join an Islamic study circle focused on memorization.
8. Evaluate yourself weekly
This helps you see the bigger picture. You’ll be able to evaluate on a more long-term level how well you’ve been keeping your habit in practice. You can do the same thing on a monthly and yearly basis.
For those who are really into the technical aspect of self-evaluation, maybe you can make a graph to help you chart how well (or not so well) you’ve been keeping up with your good habit.