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.