Statistics say that 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year and in readiness of ‘Time to Talk Day’, I have been looking into how reading can boost your mental health; a practice referred to as bibliotherapy.
Most of us have encountered feelings of stress or anxiety in some stage of our lives. A go-to activity for many is reading. As an avid reader myself, I love to read during the evenings and follow book groups on Facebook where people review the books they’ve read and give others advice on what to read next. Through different social platforms such as this, not only can reading be a hobby for some people; it can also feel like therapy.
Did you know that the NHS now recommends using services such as the Reading Well book prescription service when going through times of stress, depression and anxiety? The books are chosen and prescribed by health experts, meaning you are highly likely to benefit from reading the books prescribed.
Here are five ways in which reading can boost your mental health.
According to research carried out by The University of Sussex, reading can reduce stress levels by 68%. The distraction and escapism that reading brings helps to ease the tensions in the muscles and heart.
Helps stimulate the brain
Studies show that reading leads to good brain health in old age. Just like the heart, the brain as a muscle is stimulated through reading which helps it function to its fullest capacity. Reading has also been linked to reducing the risk of developing dementia. My grandad admits that he likes to read every day and keep his mind healthy by taking part in activities put on by his care home. At 97 years old, his short-term and long-term memory is fantastic; what an achievement and what a role model!
Helps with relaxation
The subject you are reading about can bring inner peace and tranquillity as well as lowering the blood pressure. This sense of calm can also help bring on a more natural, deeper sleep.
Constantly educating yourself
Reading helps us to understand different ways of life. This understanding enables us to be more understanding and emphatic of others.
Can help you cope with depressive feelings
Research has shown that reading can reduce depressive feelings. When we read stories of heartbreak, grief and loss, we are usually lying safely in our beds or maybe travelling. This reinforces our feelings of security and reminds us that we are often in a much better place than we may have initially thought.
When you get home from work tonight, lay back, turn off your phone (and the TV), try reading a book and take note of how this makes you feel.