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5 Ways Reading Can Improve Your Mental Health

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Whether you’re struggling with anxiety, depression, or are somewhere else on the spectrum, there is a book out there for you that can help! People have had to cope and survive without mental healthcare for generations now and books have long-since been one among many art forms that have provided comfort and support.

Reading is certainly not a cure-all for people’s mental health concerns but it can improve overall mental health and function, and provide a safe outlet. Below are just five proven ways that reading can help improve mental health (though there are many more):

1. It Makes You More Empathetic

Surprise, surprise, books can actually make you a more empathetic, which by extension, will improve relationships in your life. This is possible because in literary fiction especially readers are challenged to analyze a character’s actions and motivations and to read emotional cues. People often forget to do this in real life, but avid readers are more likely to think about where someone is coming from.

2. It Helps You Fall Asleep

Too many people get into bed and go straight for their phone, tablet, or computer — all, of which have lights and colors that make it harder for your body to transition from being active and awake to being relaxed and sleepy. Books, in print form, on the other hand, have been proven to help people fall asleep faster. So toss the tech and pick up a book instead.

3. It Can Help You Escape From The World

There are a lot of ways to get away from reality — some healthier than others. Books are a relatively safe way to temporarily avoid existence on a planet that can sometimes be a terrible, terrifying place. It’s a simple fact, of course, that books can be a form of escapism, but ultimately, it’s unique to every person as to where healthy escape begins and avoidance begins.

4. It Makes You Smarter Which Is Always Good

Anne E. Cunningham and Keith E. Stanovich, in a paper entitled What Reading Does For The Mind, explain in a nutshell that reading makes you smarter. Reading not only helps you obtain knowledge but also helps you maintain it as you get older. You may not always consciously know you’re getting new information, but it’s there.

5. It Can Help You Process Past Experiences and Gain New Perspective

If TV shows, movies, and songs all have the power to make people feel and to remind them of old times, books shouldn’t be any different. A researcher at American University who explored this topic and found that like the other mediums mentioned above books can be therapeutic by providing people insight into things they may be going through or have gone through before. Say, for example, that you’re still trying to process a terrible relationship. A book about a terrible relationship might be far enough outside of your own personal bubble to give you the answers or closure you’ve been looking for.

– Jamie Fleetwood
Contributing Writer | Click here to read more from Jamie

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