The Mental Health Benefits of Reading
Have you ever become so ridiculously lost in a captivating book – so much so that it was nearly impossible to put down? Maybe you are someone that considers themselves to be a bookworm that always has a book you are in the progress of reading, or maybe you haven’t read since you were required to for classes in school. Either way, after plenty of research, we now know that the act of reading possesses several different benefits, and there are probably more that we are not even aware of yet. Reading is so great for many reasons, but for starters it is something that can be so individualized and suit an array of different lifestyles. There are more genres of books out there than you are likely even aware of, so there is definitely something that will eventually catch your eye and fascinate you. If reading is something that does not typically pique your interest, your opinion might change after you discover a few of the mental benefits we have broken down for you today! All it takes is a few minutes a day to reap the many rewards that this mind-engaging activity can provide for you.
Reading Can Reduce Stress
Numerous studies have shown that the act of reading is a phenomenal way to reduce stress and lower the blood pressure. First off, reducing both of these things is wonderful for the physical body since they can have such detrimental effects if left unchecked for too long. Stress can especially have negative impacts on the mental health, and it can significantly worsen disorders like anxiety and depression. Back in 2009, researchers investigated how different activities possibly affect the degree of stress one experiences. The study found that 30 minutes of reading a day was as effective at decreasing stress levels as doing 30 minutes of yoga. The heart rate and blood pressure were reduced after reading for this length of time, allowing individuals to feel calmer and filled with less worry. Of course, reading is just one method that is available to help diminish stress, but it has certainly proved to be a highly effective one – while also being very accessible to partake in.
It Can Sharpen the Brain
One of the most impressive benefits that reading boasts is its ability to overall strengthen and sharpen the mind. Reading is a task that entails quite a bit of focus and engagement – at least if you are really trying to comprehend and absorb the material in your book. You don’t need to read an educational or dense book to gain the advantages of more mental acuity, but rather something that will at least keep you engrossed. The involvement of our brains while we read helps create new neural connections and to expand our imaginations, which we know are wonderful things for the general function of our brains. There have been findings of decreased instances of neurological disorders like dementia in people who have habitually read over the years. It is truly incredible that stimulating the mind through reading can provide such amazing value years later in life.
Enhances Your Perspective & Vocabulary
Reading a variety of books from a wide range of genres will only deliver incredible advantages to your cognitive capabilities. From biographies and sci-fi to mystery novels and nonfiction, there are endless options to choose from and an infinite amount of knowledge just waiting to be obtained. Most people have at least one favorite genre they like to keep coming back to, which is still awesome and will help you achieve significant mental improvements. Reading frequently unsurprisingly aids in the expansion of the vocabulary – often without you even realize this is happening! You are also able to receive new and fresh perspectives when you make a habit out of picking up a book at least a few times a week, which is more important than we often realize. Enhancing your perspective regarding different situations can help you become more empathetic, patient, have a more positive outlook on the world, and be more overall understanding. All of these aspects are so useful when it comes to maintaining a healthy mental state, which is always what we’re after.
Aids in Quality Sleep
Are you someone that tends to scroll through their phone in the hours leading up to when you fall asleep? This is an issue that has just started to plague society in the last couple of decades, and there is clear evidence of the harsh blue light that is emitted from devices like phones and laptops negatively affecting sleep patterns. The light from our phones can inhibit the production of melatonin, which is the primary hormone that makes us fall and stay asleep. Opting to instead wind down with a book when you’re settling down for bed is a much more ideal choice, especially if you find it difficult to sleep at night. This also relates to our first point of the stress reduction that reading can provide, because less stress equals higher quality sleep. Getting plenty of quality sleep at night is so vital for a healthy mental state – when there is a severe lack of sleep, there are increased chances of worsened mental health conditions.
If you can find a few minutes of downtime each day to crack open a book, you will surely discover the many fantastic advantages it can have on your mental health. Reading is one of the very best ways to expand the mind and learn about things you previously had no knowledge of. If you don’t have the desire to continuously spend money on books, head to your local library and pick up a free card and take your time strolling through the myriad of aisles and genres available. If you don’t enjoy the hassle of traveling places with a heavy book, we luckily have e-readers at our disposal now (such as the Kindle) that are incredibly light and travel-friendly. Reading has never been easier or more accessible, so start doing your mental health a favor and dive into one!
If you are looking to improve your mental health and wellness, we are ready to help on that journey. We have a team of psychiatrists, therapists and psychologists that specialize in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and medication management. Our team of compassionate and skilled professionals is available for in person appointments for patients in the DFW area. We also offer online appointments for patients in the Austin, DFW, Houston and San Antonio areas.