February 27, 2020
How reading improves your mental health
When you read a great book, you don’t escape from life. You plunge deeper into it.
– Julian Barnes
Ensuring kids can read at grade level by fourth grade is critically important. The ability to read is a necessary tool to succeed in any field. But, the benefits of reading extend beyond practical applications.
Along with educational progress and professional success, reading proves to impact our brains and mental health in some surprising ways. These positive impacts benefit kids and adults alike.
Various studies have demonstrated that keeping your brain active and engaged can reduce the risk of brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Dementia. Like any other muscle in your body, the brain requires daily engagement to remain healthy.
If you treat your brain like a muscle, then reading everyday is a great exercise to keep that muscle strong.
We all face stress throughout our daily lives. The countless thoughts and worries that run through your brain everyday take a toll on your mental wellbeing.
Reading can help curb the effects of those daily stressors. When you lose yourself in a story, your mind can escape from obsessive thoughts. As you stay present with the book or article you’re reading, you reward your brain with a calm and pleasant experience.
Thus, reading a great novel or a captivating article allows you to relax.
As you read more, you expose yourself to more words on a regular basis. Inevitably, reading many words each day, simple and complex, offers a wider range of vocabulary to reference.
You might be surprised by how useful an expansive vocabulary can be. A wider vocabulary allows you to articulate your thoughts and ideas more effectively, which can boost your self-confidence and improve your ability to relate to others. Being able to effectively express yourself with an expansive vocabulary also allows you to forge connections with others, which is one of the most useful skills you can learn in life.
Reading a novel requires an attentive mind, since it involves following story development, character development, nuances, and various sub-plots essential to the story. Keeping all these details in mind seems like a daunting task, but your brain is capable. And your brain will retain information more easily the more often you read.
With many technological distractions vying for your attention on a daily basis, focusing on one task for an extended period has become increasingly challenging.
Our minds have become accustomed to multitasking and dividing attention between checking our smartphones, working on a project, worrying about our to-do lists, and chatting with a friend—all within a five minute span.
Reading, on the other hand, offers the unique experience of training your brain to focus on a single task. By fully immersing yourself in a story, every other distraction fades into the background.
By placing an emphasis on reading at a young age, we hope kids (and adults) will build the habit of reading everyday throughout their lives. Even if it’s just for 30 minutes. The psychological and social benefits prove that reading is an invaluable tool you can use to build a joyful, healthy life.