Who knew that the simple act of reading could offer significant mental health benefits? This is exactly what several studies have demonstrated in recent years. In fact, there are therapists called biblio-therapists who assign books as a key component of client treatment.
A noticeable trend has emerged showing a preference for natural self-care methods to improve mental health. Once you discover the mental health benefits associated with reading, it makes perfect sense to include it in your wellness routine.
Benefits of reading
When one becomes immersed in a great book, it can feel like being transported to a different place and time. Reading offers a momentary escape, where one can take a break from present troubles, live in someone else’s world for a bit and return refreshed.
Becoming wrapped up in a compelling novel, memoir, self-help book or biography can offer some important mental health benefits. Consider these benefits of reading:
- Provides a distraction: If we are struggling with a mental health challenge such as depression or anxiety, reading can provide a welcome distraction. By shifting our attention away from our own suffering and connecting with the characters in a book, we gain new perspectives while also enjoying a nice respite.
- Increases relaxation: When we curl up with a good book, chances are the scene includes a comfy chair, a blanket, a cup of tea, and maybe even a pet to cuddle with. The process of reading simply inspires relaxation. In fact, if you struggle with insomnia, reading for thirty minutes before bedtime can help you relax and fall asleep faster.
- Opportunities for education: Self-help books in particular are great for providing mental health benefits. Reading books about whatever problem you are dealing with, such as relationship issues, loss and grief or making a career change, can offer fresh insights and useful information. This helps reduce stress while also providing a sense of empowerment.
- Improved cognition: As the saying goes, “Use it or lose it.” Reading is great for improving brain functioning, as it helps exercise your mind, expand your vocabulary and introduce you to new topics. Giving the brain a good workout with regular reading has been shown to reduce the risk of dementia.
Mental health coping tips
Reading books is a great addition to other effective coping techniques that are known to boost mental health. Not only are these extremely beneficial to mental health, but they are all readily available and at little to no cost:
- Learn how to meditate: Meditation takes some practice, but learning to sit still while clearing your mind of distracting thoughts is extremely relaxing.
- Get up and move: Exercise is a natural mood enhancer. Make daily movement part of your health routine, better yet if you exercise outdoors.
- Practice yoga: Yoga combines focused breathing, mindfulness and movement to help you achieve a calm state of mind. Experiment with the various types of yoga to find the best fit for you.
- Plant a garden: With spring around the corner, consider planting a small garden. Just being outdoors in the fresh air and sunshine will improve your mindset, while growing vegetables or flowers is a very rewarding pastime.
- Help others: Nothing lifts your mood like volunteering your time for a good cause. Find a local charity where you can offer your time to help others.
Reading, along with all these mental health coping tips, can make a difference in your emotional well-being. So, why not curl up with a great book today and enjoy the many mental health benefits of reading.
Ashley Addiction Treatment, formerly Father Martin’s Ashley, is a nationally recognized nonprofit leader in integrated, evidence-based treatment for substance use disorders. Our programs are accredited by The Joint Commission, and result in frequent publications of ongoing research into effective treatment methodologies. We offer holistic care that encompasses the mind, body and spirit through inpatient and outpatient treatment, provide drug detox, relapse prevention plans, family wellness programs and a variety of other services tailored to each patient’s unique needs. Our driving principle — “everything for recovery” — reinforces our mission to transform and save lives through the science of medicine, the art of therapy and the compassion of spirituality, and is complemented by our philosophy of healing with respect and dignity. For information about our comprehensive programs, please call 866-313-6307.