When was the last time you read a book? For many of us, it’s been a while. With all of the gazillion shows and movies instantly available these days, many times cozying up to a good book, falls by the wayside. Though there is nothing wrong with relaxing and watching some TV, we can all benefit by turning it off once in a while, and instead, picking up a book and experiencing the many mental health benefits that come from reading.
So read on…
Studies have found that reading as little as 6 minutes per day can improve your quality of life. In fact, it can help you to get better sleep, reduce stress, and sharpen mental acuity. And, on top of all of that, it can be significantly beneficial to your mental health. Some psychologists have even begun to use it as a therapeutic tool, and call it “bibliotherapy”.
Bibliotherapy is a therapeutic practice that uses imaginative literature—novels, short stories, poetry, plays, and biographies—in order to improve psychological well-being. The idea is for the therapist to incorporate carefully selected literary works, to help as part of the overall treatment plan. Then they use this as a tool to guide their patient through a journey of self-discovery.
That being said, you can experience some of the same benefits of bibliotherapy on your own, by selecting a book that is specific to your own recovery journey. Be it a book on positive thinking, addiction recovery, financial growth, marriage, sexual identity, etc.
Reading, by way of therapist led bibliotherapy, or on one’s own, can have such a profound impact on our lives, and our relationships. A study conducted by The New School for Social Research found that reading improves, what they call the ‘Theory of Mind’, which is the ability to connect and empathize with others, as well as develop a better understanding of different beliefs and experiences. All of which helps to free ourselves from feelings of isolation, and help us to feel more bonded and connected to people, and to the world around us.
Another study focused on the impact reading can have on depression. The study took 96 patients that suffered from mild depression and found that those who read saw notable improvements in their symptoms. Whereas, those that did not read during the study, did not experience any improvement.
As if that isn’t enough of a reason to start reading more, another study found that reading can increase life expectancy! A study by the Yale University of Public Health found that people who read books had a 20 percent reduced risk of death over 12 years when compared to non-book readers.
So let’s recap what we’ve learned: Reading improves and strengthens the mind, helps relieve depression symptoms, helps us to connect and empathize with others, and can even lead to a longer life expectancy. But that’s not all!
Reading Exercises the Brain.
Reading Can be Fun, and is a Form of ( often free ) Entertainment.
Reading Improves Concentration and the Ability to Focus.
Reading Improves Literacy.
Reading Improves Sleep.
Reading Increases General Knowledge.
Reading is Motivational.
Reading Reduces Stress.
Reading Prevents Cognitive Decline as We Age.
Reading Provides a Safe Way of Exploring Strong Emotions.
Reading Promotes Bonding.
And on top of all that, reading leads to a sense of accomplishment that can improve self-esteem.
So give reading a try. You can start by choosing a book that is of interest to you. If you need help finding a book, stop by your local library or bookstore and ask the librarian or bookstore employees what they would recommend. Then skim through the first few pages of the book, and see if it holds your interest.
Whether it’s a page-turning thriller, a biography, self-help guide, spiritual literature, humor, fiction, non-fiction- Just choose something. Or many things. And read on, and enjoy the many benefits it will bring to your life.
For more information on the psychological benefits of reading, check out the following site: