How Reading Helps Mental Health
Contemporary people are too busy and they rarely find time to read books. After all, it is much easier to relax with a TV remote control or a smartphone in hand. Nowadays, many sociologists are concerned that the rise in popularity of social networks is leading to a decrease in book reading. Many have an opinion that reading books is a hobby or a favorite pastime of previous generations.
However, reading books has not lost its relevance in our time. Some researchers argue that the reading trends have remained stable over the past two decades. Moreover, reading is not just a hobby and recreation, but a useful skill with many benefits, especially when it becomes a daily habit. Let's see how reading affects us and our health.
1. Beneficial Effect on Readers’ Well-Being
Reading books is not only a hobby but also an activity that affects the physical and mental state of people. Studies show that reading a book lowers blood pressure and heart rate. In addition, people who read books daily have a lower stress level than those who do not read at all. Some scientists believe that reading books is as effective as practicing yoga. If you regularly read before bed, you will not only make your sleep better, but you will also feel more cheerful in the morning.
Reading fiction books can assist in overcoming depression, reducing stress, improving sleep, and dealing with life's problems. Reading has a calming effect on our brains. Even during wars and social upheavals, reading books brings obvious benefits. Readers are distracted from the disturbing reality and learn how to better respond to distressing events. Also, reading restores emotional resources, helps deal with the unknown, and gives strength and endurance to readers.
2. Mental Health Improvement
Problems with mental health can be in many forms, such as anxiety, stress, depression, nervousness, and various disorders. Good mental health is not just the absence of mental problems. Being mentally healthy means being able to manage stress, make informed decisions, and be productive. Scientists have found that the symptoms of mental disorders in people who spend a lot of time with a book in their hands are declining. Reading speeds up the healing process for many mental illnesses.
According to scientific studies, reading protects us against brain diseases. For people who read regularly, the chances of getting Alzheimer's disease are 2.5 times lower. The fact is that people who keep their brains active and read a lot have fewer memory problems compared to those who are not accustomed to reading. When we read, the activity of our brain increases, and, as a result, it ages more slowly. And the healthier the brain, the longer a person lives. Therefore, reading books is a great way to maintain mental clarity and prolong life.
3. Contribution to Socialization
In the course of scientific research, it was found that the passion for reading books contributes to the improvement of people's social and cognitive abilities. Reading books allows us to temporarily leave our reality and plunge into the imaginary world of literary characters. This allows us to identify ourselves with other people in similar circumstances. Time spent with a book strengthens our social bonds and stimulates empathy for other people.
Scientists have proven that books improve readers' ability to understand what other people are thinking and feeling. Heavy readers are more able to empathize with other people and understand different points of view. Therefore, people who read a lot have a higher chance of building a successful career, having harmonious relationships in their families, and achieving self-realization. Reading books is especially relevant for young people who constantly face troubles in this rapidly changing world.
4. Our Memory and Concentration Are Getting Better
If you read a lot, then you will have a good memory, since you are constantly training your brain. When reading a book, almost the entire brain is involved, especially the part of it that is responsible for memory. It takes at least a few days to read a book, so we have to remember a lot of things that are needed to understand the whole book. Paper books are better for our brains because we remember not only the meaning but even particular places in the text where it is about something. Reading an interesting book makes us focus and ignore distractions.
5. Vocabulary and Communication Skills
Books help us escape from reality, but they can also teach valuable lessons. When we read literary works of different genres, we may come across some unfamiliar words. If a word is unknown, it is not at all necessary to look up its definition in the dictionary. Sometimes the meaning of a word can be understood by the context. Reading helps not only in increasing vocabulary, but also in improving the general literacy of the reader.
When we read, different areas of our brains are activated to process information. For example, the occipital lobe is responsible for visual processing, while the temporal lobe controls our speech. Reading books improves language skills, i.e. our ability to clearly express thoughts. A well-read person is usually an amazing conversationalist who makes a good impression on the people around him. When you demonstrate high erudition, you involuntarily feel more confident. Recognition of your knowledge by others will have a positive effect on your self-esteem.
6. A Long-Term Positive Effect of Reading
While reading, our brain activates the production of chemicals that positively affect our well-being. The feeling of involvement and empathy while reading a book does not end immediately when we stop reading. It has been proven that the positive impact of reading on health continues long after we put the book down. Many new studies show that the reduction in symptoms of mental disorders in adults persists for months and even years after having read a good book.
Thus, books not only give knowledge and broaden our horizons, but also provide us with an opportunity to draw a lot of ideas to bring them to life subsequently. Literature helps to see the world in all its diversity and find our place in it. When we read about other people with similar experiences, we feel less alone. Also, reading books contributes to our mental health, improves our well-being, and strengthens social ties. That is why great and wise books always helped readers live long, healthy, and happy lives.