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Pages of Positivity: Reading is good for Mental Health.

A woman reading a book because reading is good for mental health
Reading for Mental Health

In a world where chaos often reigns supreme, the power of reading can be a mental health superhero. Picture this: you, a cozy nook, and a book that takes you on journeys beyond your wildest dreams. Does that sound like a dream? If this is you, then read on, my good friend. I did this research mostly to convince my daughter why reading is such an awesome thing. Convincing her will take time because she’s six. But I felt inspired by my own findings. So, I decided to share them.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a book aficionado or a casual reader; it’s a scientific fact that reading nurtures the mind, rekindles the spirit, and offers a treasure trove of mental health benefits.

What Reading Does to the Brain

Reading is not passive. It is ‘in up to your elbows’ of firing cognitive processes and visual and imaginary stimuli. The scientific jargon speaks of improved perception, comprehension, memory, attention, and inference. I always thought it was words through the eyes and into your brain. My research showed me that reading fires up your hearing, speech, and imagination centers. What’s more fascinating is that reading strengthens the connections between these regions of the mind.

Here’s your brain on reading. The volume of our gray and white matter in the brain grows, which enhances the ability to adapt and reorganize the mind in response to new experiences and challenges. So, reading is the brain’s superfood. It increases resilience and its capacity to cope with stress and trauma. And for all of us who have been there, you know that’s the basis of all Mental breakdowns.

The Benefits of Reading and Bibliotherapy

Bibliotherapy is brain-happy pills in the form of storytelling. Just as a cup of chamomile tea lulls you into tranquility, reading has the same magical effect on the brain. If the brain is happy, everything else will automatically be content.

Reading for therapy involves selecting literature that is relevant to your mental needs. It can also just be about satisfying your interests or goals. That’s school. But in clinical settings, reading has helped modify thought patterns, feelings, and even actions. It helps explain childhood and adolescent issues to young children or teens if used in educational settings or by parents.

Here are the best perks of bibliotherapy.

  • Reduce stress and anxiety. It distracts us from our worries and calms our nervous system. By regulating our emotions, it equips us to better cope with difficult situations. Studies show that reading lowers blood pressure, heart rate, and cortisol levels. That’s all stress talk.

  • Improve mood and happiness. Finishing a book, a chapter, or even an academic reading is innately pleasurable, entertaining, and satisfying. Reading exposes us to positive emotions, such as joy, gratitude, hope, and love. Of course, it depends on what you’re reading. So, if you’re feeling stressed, reading something motivational or happy is best. Reading can also increase our self-esteem. Think strong female protagonists! My favorite topic to write about.

  • Enhance cognitive abilities and prevent cognitive decline. Reading improves attention span, concentration, memory, reasoning, and problem-solving skills. It stimulates our creativity and imagination. It’s been proven to protect our brain from aging and dementia by keeping it active and engaged.

  • Foster social skills and empathy. I found myself through reading. I learned to understand myself and others through it. It helps us develop perspective-taking, compassion, and empathy for people who are different from us or facing challenges or hardships. So, if you want to improve effective communication and build stronger relationships – read!

Benefits of Reading Fiction

How could I let you go before expounding on the awesome perks of reading fiction? Storytelling is an art, and reading something beautifully written is just as beneficial as standing before a masterpiece in oil. Say hello to emotional intelligence, broadening your horizons and flexing those creative muscles. Fictional characters become your companions, mentors, and mirrors of your own experiences. Their quests intertwine with your own journey, unearthing profound realizations and connecting the dots of the human experience.

All the mental images and scenarios you create after reading something are the basis of generating new ideas and solutions for your own problems or goals. You immerse yourself in the lives and emotions of the characters and read about their perspectives and motivations while learning to navigate your own. Humor, curiosity, wonder, and awe are just some of the reads to explore. Fiction can throw you into someone else’s culture, diversity, their experiences and develops your critical thinking and analytical skills by challenging assumptions and beliefs. Imagine being able to live a thousand lives through those pages.

Physical Benefits of Reading

So, you thought reading only exercises the mind? Think again! Beyond serenading your brain, reading triggers a dip in cortisol levels, reducing stress. It’s like a spa day for your brain, like slipping into a soothing bubble bath while worries float away. Your heart rate lowers, your muscles unclench, and your body embraces a state of blissful relaxation. Here’s the skinny.

  • Improve sleep quality and quantity. Reading has helped us unwind before bedtime since the invention of the written word. Say buh-bye to screens and hello books to help you fall asleep faster and sleep deeper and longer.

  • Boost the immune system and prevent infections. No kidding! Because reading can reduce stress, it reduces inflammation, which is linked to weakened immunity and increased susceptibility to diseases. It’s all connected. Who’d have thought? Before my research, not me, for sure!

  • Lower our blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Lower heart rate and blood pressure are activated by your parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for rest and digestion. So think improved hormonal health, even lower blood sugar, and lower fat storage.

  • Prevent or delay vision loss. I mean, that’s a no-brainer. You’re working your eyes like crazy when you read while improving your focus and coordination. Science says reading can delay, if not prevent, the onset of age-related macular degeneration, a common cause of vision loss in older adults.

Some Books Proven to Improve Mental Health

So now that I’ve given you the cold hard facts let me make some suggestions. These literary gems have made a significant impact on my own mental well-being.

  • The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho: a masterful tale of self-discovery that ignites introspection and sparks life-altering transformations.

  • The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry: a whimsical masterpiece that dances with profound lessons about love and the enigmatic human nature.

  • Turtles All the Way Down by John Greene: a book highlighting coping mechanisms to adopt when suffering from anxiety.

  • Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow: a poignant story of a broken girl and her journey as she puts herself back together.

  • One by Sarah Crossan: a poetic, almost musical book, unlike most other children's novels. It speaks about identity, loss, and acceptance.

Reading isn't just a pastime, at least not for me. And I hope you can now see that it can be a profound method of self-care. A book is a passport to boundless realms of introspection and a bridge to many diverse universes.

Reading is good for mental health. Now that's proven. So read a book and feed your mind, body, and soul today.

Do you want to read mine?

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Aug 09, 2023
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts on reading and its positive impact on mental health. I agree with you that reading helps you to get distracted for the worries and distraction. What I loved most about reading this blog was about how it can work as a method to improve self-care. Best Regards, Nauman Naseer

Aug 20, 2023
Replying to

Thank you so much for your encouragement and for taking the time out of your day to comment. Hope reading brings you lots of joy and peace.

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