6 Ways Reading Can Improve Your Mental Health

6 Ways Reading Can Improve Your Mental Health

February 21, 2022


Reading can be considered both a hobby and an escape depending on your mood and what you're reading. Some people like to read for pleasure, while others enjoy reading to acquire new knowledge or information about their favorite topic. Regardless of the reason why you pick up a book, several mental health benefits can be obtained from reading. In this article, we will describe some of the most important ones.

Improves Your Memory

Even if you're not studying or learning new material, reading can help strengthen your memory. According to a study performed by German researchers, reading helps improve memory of things learned previously. Participants were divided into 3 groups: one group read the Harry Potter book series, another read text that was meaningless for them, and a control group did not read anything. Afterward, the participants were asked to identify if certain statements related to things they had read before. The results indicated that reading can improve memory regardless of whether it is meaningful or not.

Reduces Stress

Stress has been linked with many serious illnesses and is part of the body's defense mechanism against physical harm. However, chronic stress has been found to cause damage to both physical and mental health. One way you can reduce stress levels is by reading a book in your favorite genre before bedtime. Even reading high-quality book summaries and book reviews online can help you relax and is almost as effective in reducing stress levels as book reading itself. It is proven that students who read for 30 minutes each night had lower blood pressure than those who did not read or only read for shorter periods. It is also found that the more books participants read each week, the more beneficial it was for their stress levels.

Enhances Your Self-Esteem

Books can make you feel like the protagonist of a fairy tale. You probably know someone who is nothing like the main character in her favorite book or movie, but you might still imagine yourself as them anyway. The same concept applies when reading a book that takes place in a different culture, during a different period, or in an alternate universe. If you imagine yourself to be someone else with different life experiences, it can help improve your self-esteem and appreciation for your style and set of circumstances. Also,  reading hints that you can apply in real life or stories of other people's experiences can help you feel more connected with the world around you.

Improves Empathy

When we read about fictional characters in books and relate to them in some way, it can increase our empathy towards others. If we want to be empathetic with real people around us, this skill gives us the ability to do so by allowing ourselves to understand what they might be feeling based on the circumstances they're going through. Experiencing emotions such as happiness or sadness while reading can help improve social skills like empathy, emotional intelligence, and self-awareness by allowing us to understand the meaning behind a specific tone in a piece of writing. The more emotionally invested you are in a story, the more likely it is that you will experience related feelings.

Gives You a Creative Boost

In this digital age, most people find themselves glued to their smartphones and laptops for hours on end. Because of the rise in technology, many people have forgotten how to be creative with their free time. Reading can help increase your creativity by allowing you to explore a book's multiple endings or storylines. For example, books such as "The Alchemist" by Paulo Coelho follow a mystical journey that leaves readers wondering what they would do if they were faced with similar situations involving self-discovery and destiny. In addition to improved creativity, reading can also increase your daily imagination by making you think about possibilities that may happen in the future or things that could have occurred in the past.

Prevents Cognitive Decline

Just like any other skill, the more you practice reading, the better you become. The idea that out of sight equals out of mind also applies to brain health. If you don't exercise your brain by reading, you are more likely to have problems with memory or cognition. A study that was published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease suggests that being cognitively active throughout life can reduce the risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer's disease later on. Furthermore, people who frequently read over a long period were found to score higher on mental acuity tests than individuals who had limited exposure to written materials or those who did not read at all.

reading outdoors

The benefits of reading are endless,  and each book has the potential to impact your life differently. With our busy lives, we sometimes forget how valuable simple things like reading and writing can be. However, by adding this habit to your daily routine, you can experience a wide range of benefits that can improve your quality of life and overall health.

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