Can Reading Books help improve Mental health?
When was the last time you read a book, or a substantial magazine article? Do your daily reading habits center around tweets, Facebook updates, or the directions on your instant oatmeal packet?
If you’re one of countless people who don’t make a habit of reading regularly, you might be missing out.
With a film or TV show, you’re given the visuals whereas with a novel you’re inventing them yourself, so it’s actually much more of a powerful event, because you’re involved.
Reading has a significant number of benefits, and here’re 10 benefits of reading to get you to start reading.
Stronger Analytical Thinking Skills
Improved Focus and Concentration
Reading makes us more mentally flexible
The reading of poetry and other texts that require the reader to question meaning has shown to cause fascinating changes to patterns of brain activity. In one study, people were asked to rate texts on the basis of their “poeticness” and how much they had to rethink meaning while reading. When reading more complex texts, brain scans showed increased activity in key areas of the brain as well as heightened literary awareness.
Reading can help stave off dementia
Brain stimulating activities, like reading, have been shown to ward off mental decline and conditions such as dementia and even Alzheimer’s.
One study found that people who read later in life have a 32% lower rate of declining mental abilities.
Reading has been shown to put our brains into state similar to meditation, and it brings the same health benefits of deep relaxation and inner calm. Regular readers sleep better, have lower stress levels, higher self-esteem, and lower rates of depression than non-readers.
Re-reading a book
Re-reading favourite novels can also provide a particular kind of bibliotherapy – allowing one to take stock of oneself from an illuminating vantage point. There’s something about going back time and time again to a book over your life which is incredibly rewarding – you get to know yourself better because you visit the layers of yourself that you’ve had over the years like an onion.
A relatively unknown mental health intervention is “bibliotherapy” or “reading therapy.” This mainly refers to structured book-reading programs run by clinics, libraries, or schools aimed at promoting recovery in people with mental health difficulties.
The term bibliotherapy is also used to refer to self-initiated book reading pursued by an individual with mental illness. This can be supported by a clinician, family member or peer supporter, or simply pursued alone.
Several studies have examined whether bibliotherapy can facilitate recovery from mental illness. One classic study found a decrease in depressive symptoms after a program of bibliotherapy, a finding repeated in more recent meta-analysis and systematic reviewes.
Interestingly, several studies indicate that reading works of fiction can be of particular benefit to people with or without mental health difficulties. These studies indicate that reading fiction can increase reader empathy, social skills, and inter-personal understandings (known as “theory of mind”).
This research indicates that readers can deeply engage with characters and scenarios, giving them a better understanding of our shared humanity and common struggles.
Autobiography and Recovery Narratives
A number of courageous people with mental illness have published poignant autobiographical memoirs detailing their life experience. These writings often portray both the suffering and distress caused by mental illness, as well as the journey of recovery and strategies of resilience.
Results indicate that reading these narratives can increase connectedness and understandings of recovery, while validating personal experience and reducing stigma.
Religion and Spirituality
Finally, much research indicates a strong and consistent relationship between religiosity and mental health. An integral part of religiosity includes the regular reading of sacred texts, which can provide much solace and support to believers with mental health issues.
Did you know?
Did you know that reading is contagious?learn
There’s a reading genre for every literate person on the planet, and whether your tastes lie in classical literature, poetry, fashion magazines, biographies, religious texts, young adult books, self-help guides, street lit, or romance novels, there’s something out there to capture your curiosity and imagination.
Step away from your computer for a little while, crack open a book, and replenish your soul for a little while.
Also read – 10 Habits to be a Happy person