“To acquire the habit of reading is to construct for yourself a refuge from almost all the miseries of life.”— W. Somerset Maugham
In honor of National Book Lovers Day which happens annually each August, we are sharing the benefits of reading for mental health!
Do you read consistently? Unfortunately, studies show a rapid decrease in reading over the last decade. These statistics include differences in age, gender, and socioeconomic status, but it’s important to note the majority believe in the importance of reading and a library in their community.
If you need a reason to curl up on the couch or lay in the sun with a good book, we’ve got you covered.
How Reading Helps with Mental Health
Experts continue to study the effects of reading and mental health, consistently proving reading can lead to some impressive improvements to mental health from mood to communication and more.
Reading has a similar effect on the body as meditation. We know meditation is a great practice for mental health because it helps with stress relief, mind and body connection, and relaxation (to name a few). Studies show that narrative reading encourages reflection and relaxation as well. The study included observed and self-reported outcomes and found fiction reading led to a calming of mental anxiety.
In fact, one participant shared the stress of his life didn’t allow him to read, only watch TV. He was surprised to find during his first session for the study that the story soothed his mind. Experts point to the sequential aspect of fiction reading, where readers are not caught up thinking of other things or worried about the ending, since it has already been created. No matter the stress you’re up against in life, this mind-calming is an attractive benefit.
Our mental health can be negatively impacted when we struggle to effectively communicate with others or have a strain in a relationship. One way to help this is to practice empathy.
A study shows that reading (primarily fiction) led to an increase in the ability to empathize with others. This is attributed to the simulation of everyday life in many literary fiction books.
Decrease in Mental Illness Symptoms
In a 1997 study, participants from a study 3 years prior were followed up on, finding the continued benefit of reading on depression symptoms. This study showed the promising benefit of bibliotherapy for mental illness recovery. In further examination of bibliotherapy, a meta-analysis found outcomes similar to psychotherapy.
This is all to say, reading books can have promising benefits to minimize or eliminate depressive symptoms! It should also be noted that those living with mental illness turn to writing about their own experiences, and these books prove beneficial for those in recovery as well. The study showed reading a book about a personal account of recovery promoted mental connectivity, a feeling of belonging, and hope.
Choosing a Book For You
Mental health is not the only thing reaping the benefits of reading. Reading can improve concentration and memory, reduce the risk of dementia, and more.
Excited to get reading? We know the stocked shelves of a book store can be intimidating, how do you pick a book you’ll love? We have some tips.
Take a Quiz
Have you ever been sucked into a Buzzfeed quiz? Instead of finding out which type of candy you are based on your zodiac sign, check out quizzes for which book or genre you should be reading for your taste. Here is a July 2020 quiz ready for you to complete and recommend a book you’ll love.
Ask for Recommendations
Turn to your friends and family! They know you pretty well, and might introduce you to a new book or author you love. Post on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media asking for recommendations and you’ll likely get a ton of responses, plus you can borrow a book instead of buying new and save some cash.
Check out audiobooks
If you’re not a bookworm, you might be a perfect candidate for audiobooks. While hard copies are still the most popular book form, audiobooks are on the rise. Studies show 1 in 5 American’s now listened to audiobooks.
Audiobooks present a new way to nourish mental health with the aspect of being read to. Oral storytelling has a long history and is a comforting, fun way to receive a story. Listening to a story has the same advantages as reading a hard copy, but also has additional benefits. Audiobooks can lead to relaxation, calm, and give us a chance to rest our often overstimulated eyes and use our ears instead.
Read a Book to Feel Good
Reading is shown to reduce stress by 68%, more than listening to music, having a cup of tea, or taking a walk. Try reading just 30 minutes per week and be a part of the 20% of people feeling more satisfied with their lives. We know there isn’t enough time in the day, but we believe there is always time to dedicate to self-care! Using your self-care time to read a good book and feel the benefits mentally and elsewhere!