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The Mental Health Benefits of Reading Books

Woman sitting on the couch with a blanket reading a book

I don’t know about you, but I spend a great deal of time reading. I read emails, articles, blog posts, and social media feeds—in other words, I’m spending a lot of time staring at the screens on my phone and computer. It’s a fact of our time that working and socializing heavily depend on our use of technology, but all that screen time comes at a cost. Spending hours at a time on your devices can lead to a variety of problems, from poor sleep to depression, anxiety, and even an increased risk of obesity.

If you’re looking to improve your mental health, it’s essential to be mindful of how much time you spend looking at your digital devices. I’m not suggesting you stop replying to your boss’s emails or ignore texts from your BFF, but the next time you catch yourself doom-scrolling, put your phone down. Do something better for your mental health: Reach for a good book. Here we’ll explore the mental health benefits of reading books instead of superfluous scrolling. I’ll also help you get into the habit of reading for pleasure and relaxation daily.

The Benefits of Reading Books: Is Reading Good for You?

Why is reading important, anyway? As children, most of us are strongly encouraged to read daily—in class, for homework, and for pleasure. From our earliest years through age eighteen or beyond, reading is a necessity, and it becomes a habit. However, when we leave school and enter the workforce, many of us drop or drastically reduce our reading time. Adult life is often stressful, hectic, and exhausting, and reading falls by the wayside. After all, when your to-do list is a mile long, taking an hour to read a novel may feel wasteful and self-indulgent.

Benefits Of Reading︱Improvement Pill

But that’s not the case; reading is a wonderful way to unwind and recharge, which can lead to improved mental and emotional health. Curling up with a good book can help you reduce your stress level, lower your heart rate, and relax your muscles. It provides a temporary escape from everything in your life and gives your brain some much-needed exercise. Reading can open your mind to new ideas and make you more empathetic and socially aware. It can also help improve your focus and memory. And, what’s more, it’s fun!

There’s nothing selfish or lazy about making time to read a book you’re enjoying. It doesn’t mean you’re procrastinating or shirking your many responsibilities. You can’t pour from an empty cup, and spending some time in the pages of a good book can help you refill your cup. Now, let’s figure out how to make reading part of your everyday routine.

Unlock the Benefits of Reading Every Day

Even if you’re consistently busy with work and family life (and who isn’t?), you can enjoy the benefits of reading every day, or at least most days. (Much like going to the gym, you don’t lose points if you miss a day here and there—that’s just part of life.) How will you get lost in a good book each day? If you have a bad habit of scrolling your social media feeds for hours, this is an excellent opportunity to replace it with a much healthier one. Put down your phone and pick up that novel you’ve been meaning to read. It’ll make for a much happier and less stressful bus ride, lunch hour, or bedtime routine.

If you haven’t developed a major scrolling habit, there may be another window in your daily routine where you can squeeze in some quality reading time. Turn off the TV fifteen minutes earlier than usual in the evening and read a chapter or two. Or try setting your alarm fifteen minutes earlier to start your day with your book. (This may not work for you if you’re not a morning person!)

Woman on the couch reading a book with a scarf on and a blanket
Put down your phone and pick up that novel you’ve been meaning to read (Image Source: Shutterstock)

Do you have trouble focusing on what you’re reading? It’s difficult to keep your mind on your book when your thoughts are racing. The ubiquitousness of digital devices and social media hasn’t been kind to anyone’s attention spans in the last few years. Reading a lengthy story or nonfiction work may seem challenging, but stick with it. Check out some innovative ways to focus on reading, and be encouraged: You’re doing something to counteract all that mindless scrolling time.

Good Books to Read for Improved Mental Health

Now that you know why reading is essential, you’re committed to reading a book daily. You may be wondering what you should be reading, and the answer is: The sky’s the limit! If you love fictional literature, enjoy the temporary escape it provides from your humdrum weekdays. If you’re more of a nonfiction aficionado, that’s equally good for you. Pick up a how-to book and learn a valuable new skill, or dig into the biography or autobiography of someone you admire. You might even check out some self-help books to help you improve your sense of emotional well-being—after all, it’s been a stressful few years for nearly everyone. Check out this list of sixteen mental health books and see which one most appeals to you. You’ll never regret spending time achieving better mental and emotional wellness.

Let’s face it: Digital devices and social media apps aren’t going anywhere (as evidenced by your reading this post on your phone or laptop!). If we’re being realistic, we can’t expect to eliminate our exposure to screen time altogether, and, like most things in life, it’s fine in moderation. Life is about balance, and reading a book daily can help prevent the unwanted side effects of hours of scrolling. Give yourself the gifts of better sleep, reduced stress, and improved mental wellness. Head to your local library or bookstore and grab a book!