For all you bookworms out there, we’ve got great news.
Reading a good old book curled up in the corner on the couch is incredibly useful for your mental health and brainpower. It can also fuel your ability to learn and more. So, go ahead and get lost in that next big story or know a powerful self-care lesson. Reading is right for you!
A common thread for why people avoid reading is that they read a lot for work/school, or that they don’t have the time but wish that they could. Or some people are just not all that into reading at all. Well, it’s time to flip the script because there are a bunch of great reasons why you should start prioritizing the written word.
Put down that phone and pick up a book! We’ve got all the beneficial reasons you need to and more.
The Mental Benefits of Reading a Book
Our habits as a society have changed drastically with the development of social media, smartphones, and technology. The only thing is, though we have acquired new skills to use them, they might not be making us smarter.
Our attention span is now down to just a few seconds, which means that our nervous system is continuously taxed, and we aren’t able to focus on long-term goals; we are instead seeking instant forms of gratification and income.
To hold onto our ability to learn as individuals and as a society, we need to keep reading.
So without further adieu, here are some hard-hitting reasons you should be reading daily and how it will give you an edge in today’s chaotic technological boom.
1. Reading provides mental stimulation
What are the mental benefits of reading books? Glad you asked.
Interestingly, studies show mental stimulation, including reading, can slow the development of Alzheimer’s and Dementia. Reading keeps your thinking cap engaged. It’s much more mindful than the mindlessness of scrolling through an endless amount of posts on social media.
The brain, like the muscles in your body, works hard to build and maintain its mental strength. Reading can do just that; it stimulates your brain and opens you up to new ideas. You learn as you read – meaning you may even open the doors to new creative outlets in your thinking noggin that you didn’t realize you had.
2. Reading can help reduce stress
Reading provides a relaxing activity, which is why it is often recommended as an activity to participate in before bedtime, mainly because it helps you chill out and forget the day.
Think about it: You’re stressing about that recent conflict at work. You’ve been over it a million times in your head, and you can’t shake it, but then, you pick up that hard-to-put-down book. You fall into a story where that stress at work doesn’t even matter. Your anxiety and all that tension slowly slip away.
Try it out. A good book can melt away your stress and anxiety from the week or day, and allow you that much-needed time to reset and relax.
3. Reading helps you gain new knowledge
Instead of getting lost looking at 5-second videos of dogs (which arguably is a fun way to spend your downtime), you can refocus yourself on getting things done and working towards goals you feel passionate about, all by simply reading!
Sustained efforts to read often will lead to real change. Reading assists in our efforts to grow and change as long-term goals take dedication, relentless willpower, and lots of learning – which are skills that reading provides. They open your mind to new ideas and new knowledge that you didn’t even know existed.
Plus, staying grounded and taking action towards your goals means that in 10 years, you’ll have accomplished so much more.
4. Reading enhances your ability to empathize
Wouldn’t the world be a much better place if we could understand each other better? While you may think that hiding yourself in a book is the opposite of this, research shows that people who regularly read fiction are better equipped to understand others’ feelings, beliefs, and thoughts.
How does this work? In a book or story, you dive into the mind of someone else, eventually ending up in the head of the main character or multiple characters.
Reading, ultimately, gives you varying perspectives on the world and how people may react to certain situations. It gives you insight into the inner workings of the mind, and these skills are critical for maintaining healthy, empathetic social relationships.
If this is something, you struggle with, a little more reading in your life might be just what you need.
5. Reading develops your vocabulary
It sucks to be the person in the room who doesn’t get the joke or who doesn’t quite follow the conversation.
When you read, you broaden your vocabulary, which might help you converse better with others and get in on all those good conversations and jokes, in other good news. If you’ve been a regular reader since a young age, studies indicate that you’ve likely already developed a more extensive vocabulary.
In turn, this can improve your outcomes when it comes to job success or even college admissions.
6. Reading improves your memory
Reading forces your memory to work since you have to keep track of characters, environments, situations, and more. This is especially true if you break up your reading sessions into small chunks (such as for an hour each night).
This act allows you to practice memorization regularly; this makes it easier for your brain to create new synaptic connections. As a result, you increase existing neural pathways and form new ones. That’s not all; this also helps improve your short-term memory – which might make your life easier in general. For instance, you may better recall where you placed your car keys when you came into your home late last night.
7. Reading helps you become a more analytical thinker
This is particularly true if you’re reading a story with a puzzle, like a mystery or a thriller. It’s a typical case of ‘who’s done it?’ And you may even figure that out before the last page.
This forces you to put your analytic thinking cap on in a way that is watching an episode of Friends may not. In a way, it can help you become a better problem solver and become better equipped to find solutions for whatever issues come your way.
Reading For Beginners
Alright, so what if you’re new to this reading thing? What if you find it challenging to get started? Do audiobooks count? What about biographies?
Start wherever you feel comfortable; any book is a good book. It can engage those mental aspects that binge-watching or scrolling doesn’t.
So, try to find a topic that interests you – fiction or non-fiction. If the reading doesn’t entice you, try an audiobook while walking. Don’t force it; if you start a book and it’s a struggle, it may just be a lousy book, or maybe it isn’t the right one for you. Try a new book genre or author and see if that one clicks.
Let’s Turn The Page
The average American spends 2 hours per day on social media.
What can we say we have learned from this time? We know the effects of social media and technology can contribute to depression, isolation, and identity crises, so it’s in our best interest to cut back on our tech time as much as possible. We know it’s not possible to cut this out of your life entirely, but by adding small bits of reading and other non-social media-based activities, you will begin to find more mind, body, and soul benefits out of your spare time.
So, put down your phone, and pick up a book! Treat yourself by flipping to page one.