Reading as a tool to improve mental health has been used historically. Even King Ramses II was aware of mental health benefits of reading books. There was written a line that translated to, “House of healing for the soul”. Humans have sought solitude and healing in reading texts for thousands of years.
With advances in psychology in the modern age, there has been great emphasis on reading as a modality for curing depression, stress and anxiety. While book reading helps us in many other ways, it also helps us boost our mental health, self-confidence and social skills. This article helps us understand how reading benefits our mental health in different ways and forms.
How does reading benefit our mental health?
The reader Organization (TRO) is a recognized centre at the University of Liverpool. TRO is dedicated to the promotion of reading as an intervention in mental health. They have a project called, “Get Into Reading (GIR) “ in which they run weekly reading groups. Through these groups experts at the centre try to gauge the effects of reading different texts on the mental health of the readers.
According to a study by the University of Liverpool, get into Reading helped patients with depression by providing them with a sense of purpose and direction, in terms of their social well-being, improving their personal confidence and reducing their social isolation, by improving their ability to concentrate and fostering their mental well-being
This experiment helped readers develop a desire for new learning or new understanding; their emotional and intellectual capacities; achieve psychological well-being by enhancing self-awareness and enhancing abilities and affirm the profundity of the self and of being.
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Mental health benefits of reading
Here we enlist chief mental health benefits of reading.
Reading is proven to reduce stress and help our brain muscles relax. Reading your favourite books from your favourite genre helps your mind relax and has meditative qualities.
Researchers at the University of Sussex found that persons who read only for six minutes showed lesser stress levels. Experts recommend reading for a few minutes every day to people who feel stressed and fatigued.
Improves sleep quality
A few minutes of reading before going to bed helps the reader get better sleep. After the advent of smartphones, most people use social media before going to bed which only increases stress levels.
Reading causes your consciousness to shift to another plane, thereby causing you to sleep. It takes you into a fictional world, relaxing your mind and easing stress. Sleep quality is very important for mental health. Therefore, a short reading before bed can really help boost your mental health.
Strengthens concentration and focus
Social media has done us harm. Due to the flooding and unending content, our attention span has decreased drastically. Platforms like Tiktok are becoming popular where the content of mere seconds is produced to entertain the viewers.
Losing concentration causes a lot of mental health problems. Book reading can help us strengthen our attention power. Most books take us into another world and if we find them interesting, we do not have any idea of our surroundings because we have delved deep into the world of that book. With regular reading practise, we can improve our focus.
According to Sumit Gupta, a successful entrepreneur,
“One of the best ways to reflect and build self-awareness is by reading books. I have discovered books to be like ‘power banks‘ that revitalize the human mind. They pack knowledge, wisdom, and valuable lessons from people who have lived before us.”
It has been observed that people going through depression and personality disorders feel self-aware and more social after reading a few passages every day.
Improves brain functioning.
Reading brings our brains into action. It engages a lot of brain functions such as phonemic awareness, visual and auditory processes, comprehension, fluency, and more. Therefore, the entire brain keeps working while reading.
A person who reads regularly will have a more active and well functioning brain than the one who reads less. Brain functioning has a huge impact on overall mental health. It helps us process the information in a better way and make sense of data fed into the brain.