The holy month of Ramadan is a month riddled with tests. Fasting Muslims should continue with their daily tasks while also bettering themselves during this time, but that may be easier said than done.

Growing up, my parents were especially attentive and persistent in providing life lessons to my brothers and I during Ramadan. Noticing how lethargic and less-inclined we were while fasting, they would badger us to do something. Noting the condemning heat during the day, they encouraged us to take all parts of the day as an opportunity to better ourselves.

And so, it has been 23 years, of knowing that Ramadan doesn’t only mean a month of reflection and repentance, but also a month of opportunities. Casting a wide net of choices, my parents believed that as long as we participated in beneficial activities, either religious and/or skill-building, then we’re doing alright.

So, here are 4 of the general activities that my parents had advised me to take part in, especially during this month, that I’d like to pass on to you:

1. Plan your days:

Having a to-do list will help keep you on the move! Instead of wondering of what to do after work or school, (or listening to the rumbling in your belly) start and follow your to-do list. Jot down the things you’ve been meaning to do, and start doing them! Read a chapter of a book once a day? Go ahead. Want to start learning more than the air guitar? Start a DIY project? Plant more trees?

Go ahead. Do it. Now’s the time.

2. Don’t be afraid to go outside.

Yes, it might be hot outside, especially if you’re in the equatorial region or there’s more than a hint of summer in the air right now. You feel like the sun has suddenly decided to use a magnifying glass and chose you as its primary victim.  Do NOT stay inside; go outside and get your healthy dosage of vitamin D. Just remember to pace yourself. Start small, maybe with something as simple as reading a magazine outdoors.

3. Read, Read, Read

Nothing is more noble than the pursuit of knowledge, as we were all taught that ‘seeking knowledge’ is considered ‘a duty’ in Islam. As such, my parents heavily encouraged us to crack open books, from religious texts to a cook-book and even self-improvement guides. Of course as an avid reader, I enjoyed this (maybe a little too much). It was my constant excuse to buy more books, and spend hours on end lost in the pages of them.

Which was why my parents felt the need to add one more suggestion:

4. Create Something

Let your creative juices flow this month. No matter what time of the day, try to make something or do something different. It’s during this season where my parents are most encouraging with our home projects.  Be it by planting new flowers in the garden, or modifying a new recipe, there’s a sense of accomplishment when you get to make change or do something new.

That, and the fact it’d help prepare for the oncoming Eid celebration, but that’s a whole different topic altogether.