How Reading Has Improved My Mental Health

Studies have shown reading regularly has many benefits. From expanding your knowledge, to improving your memory, and even allowing you to gain a greater vocabulary. In the two years since I started reading regularly, I’ve noticed reading has actually improved my mental health, giving me a much needed boost. This it has done in the following ways:

PROVIDED ME WITH AN ESCAPE

If you ask anyone who reads, there’s a high possibility they will tell you they read to escape. When our world becomes overwhelming, books are there to welcome you into a brand new world. You get to take on a hundred and thousand different lives. My favourite genres are fantasy and sci-fi. Reading about a world that is vastly different from our own allows me to let my real world anxieties melt away, even for just one hour a day. By escaping into a fictional world, my brain gets a chance to rest from the constant stream of stress and anxiety. I aim to get in at least one hour of reading per day for this precise reason.

HELPED ME FEEL LESS ALONE

Reading books featuring representation of experiences similar to my own has helped me to feel less alone. The first time I read a book that featured a character with my anxiety disorder was euphoric. As cliche as it sounds, it felt like the author had a front-row seat in my brain and plucked out my anxiety in order to feature it clear as day in their book. Suddenly I wasn’t alone anymore. That was when I realised I’m not the only person who feels this way, and if I’m not the only person then that means I’m not abnormal or a freak or broken beyond repair. Representation matters.

MOVED ME OUT OF MY COMFORT ZONE

This past Sunday (February 2nd, 2020) I did something entirely out of character for me. I met a lovely group of book lovers who all happen to live in and around my local area after discovering each other on social media. This never would have happened had I not been a reader. Discovering the online community has pushed me out of my comfort zone in ways I could scarcely imagine. Who would have thought the girl with severe social anxiety would one day meet up with a group of like-minded strangers to discuss books? Definitely not me! Being a reader has helped me to challenge my anxiety in more ways than one.

HELPED ME LEARN TO SLOW DOWN

A side-effect of my anxiety is that my brain doesn’t stop. Ever. A million and one thoughts are constantly running through my head. I find it extremely difficult to slow down, and I tend to push myself – both body and mind – to extreme lengths. Many readers strive to read faster. Not me. I’ve actually been training myself to read slower. By reading slower, I’m allowing my brain to rest. Reading slower allows me to really focus on what I’m doing and absorb the words on the page. Thanks to training my brain to read slower, I’m able to apply this to other areas of my life.

HAS READING HELPED YOUR MENTAL HEALTH? WHAT HAS READING DONE FOR YOU?

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15 Comments

  1. That’s great it has had a positive effect on your mental health. I am wanting to read more this year. I don’t read enough currently for it to have an effect x

    1. Thank you! It’s definitely something I recommend if you need to switch your brain off for a moment. Even half an hour of reading makes such a difference for me x

      1. That’s great!

  2. I would say my reading life has been helped in a number of ways, simply the amount I read is the best clue into how i am feeling, it has given me contact with other people by book blogging and Twitter, (not met any one yet). Like you said a good book can take me out of this world, into one were most problems have a successful conclusion.

    1. I’m so glad reading has helped you as well. I think a lot of people just assume it’s a solitary hobby but it’s so much more than that, especially with the online community through blogging and Twitter. Ah, is there anything better than a book you can get lost in for a few hours? Thank you for your comment!

  3. Reading should be prescribed by doctors along with the drugs. Is there anything better than realising you’ve been lost in a book for hours on end and not thought a single thought in that time? x

    1. Could not agree more – for me, it’s the best medicine. Sometimes it’s the little things, like losing yourself in a book, that makes the biggest difference! x

  4. […] How Reading Has Improved My Mental Health—I’ve been there or can see the appeal […]

  5. I couldn’t agree more!

  6. This is absolutely beautiful Kelly and I am so thrilled for you that you have managed to enjoy and benefit from reading so so much. 💕

    1. Thank you! ❤️

  7. Hi Kelly! First, let me congratulate you on the new look of your blog – you’ve done a great job! Also this post is spot on – I feel the same way about reading and have been increasing my reading time for about 5 years now and it’s helped me not only escape and learn, but has helped ease my anxiety/depression and improved my learning skills!

    1. Thank you so much!
      I’m so glad reading has been able to help you with your mental health as well – there are just so many amazing benefits to reading!

  8. […] mentioned in a previous post how reading has improved my mental health. Looking after our mental health is especially important, now more than […]

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