When was the last time you took some time out, curled up on the sofa with a cup of tea, and began reading a book? It is a kind of indulgence many people constantly claim they just don’t have time for, but the benefits to mental health and wellbeing can be well worth the time. How? See below…
Reading a good old fashioned, physical book can really help focus your attention, enabling you to relax and have a break from technology and busy day to day life. Many people read on digital devices these days but the problem with that is, these devices are connected to other apps and services that receive notifications and distract you. Before you know it you aren’t relaxing and reading, you’re thinking about an email you’ve received or worrying about a comment you’ve made on social media.
Being less connected and more focused helps you to relax because the brain doesn’t have to jump from one activity to the other. Your breathing slows and you become absorbed in the content of the book – unless it’s a horror making the hairs on the back of your neck stand up and your heart race at the scary parts.
Your brain needs exercising to stay active and in good working order and reading is an ideal way to do just that. Reading exposes you to new ideas and concepts, it stimulates your imagination whilst you read a story and it also exposes your brain to new language, sentences and phrases.
One of reading’s many exercising benefits is that you don’t have aching muscles afterwards! The more that you read and the more varied the content, the stronger the brain will become as its range of functionality expands and develops. Simply reading different types of texts for twenty minutes a day can work wonders for your brainpower and learning new things can really be a boost for your mind. Some scientific studies show that having a strong brain can really help in preventing the development of conditions such as dementia.
People enjoy the development of a story, as it introduces new characters and different experiences, both good and bad. Just as with a film or TV show, we become invested in these characters, often finding ourselves caring for them and wishing the best for them. Unless they are the bad guys, of course, in which case we can develop feelings of anger, dislike and even hatred towards them.
These feelings towards characters constitute empathy, and understanding how your mind develops empathy can be beneficial in establishing and maintaining social relationships and friendships, as it helps you to understand situations that people often find themselves in. Showing greater empathy can result in people finding you more approachable and caring.
Depending on the type of reading you are engaged in, you will almost certainly expose yourself to new words, new phrases and different jargon and terminology for things. If you are reading in a different language then the chances of this are much higher. This will help you to grow your language capacity and allow you to be able to express yourself better. Having the ability to communicate clearly will allow you to overcome difficulties and challenges easier. You will be able to tell people exactly what the problem is and find potential solutions that in turn will make you feel better and minimise stress.
With life being so busy and often quite stressful, especially right now, settling down to read a good book is an ideal way to forget about real life for a little while and escape into the realms of fiction. Having that time out from life and focusing on something else can help you to re-evaluate situations, often realising that things aren’t as bad as they seem. We all need that chance to escape and enjoy that daydream.
Next time you are feeling a little under the weather, rather than dwelling on it, why not pick up a book and enjoy reading for a little while?