By Emily Black, Senior Contributing Writer
Reading is an enjoyable activity that engages our intellect and transports us to another world. Some people read for pleasure, some read because they are assigned to. Whether you enjoy reading or not, there are some serious benefits to diving into a book. Let’s explore.
The Benefits of Reading
Reading Increases Your Ability to Empathize
Research has shown that reading literary fiction improves theory of mind and increases empathy. This means that you’re better able to understand others’ mental states and the complex relationship they share with the world around them. By exploring the lives of the characters between your pages, you gain a heightened ability to understand the thoughts, feelings, and beliefs of those around you.
Reading Expands Your Vocabulary
This is known as “The Matthew Effect”, aka the process of reading frequently and consistently to grow the size of your vocabulary. The size of your vocabulary can influence many important areas of your life, such as test scores, college opportunities, and future job positions.
Reading Keeps Your Brain Young and Healthy
By using MRI scans, researchers have confirmed that reading involves complex brain activity. As your reading ability matures and increases, so does the strength of your brain. Reading any type of content daily keeps your mind engaged as you grow older, thus preventing premature cognitive aging. Research hasn’t proven yet that reading prevents diseases like Alzheimer’s. BUT, studies do show that seniors who read every day maintain and improve their cognitive functioning.
Reading Reduces Stress and is Great for Your Mental Health
Along with yoga, humor, and meditation, reading is one of the most effective ways to unwind and relax. A study has shown that 30 minutes of reading can lower blood pressure, heart rate, and psychological distress. Reading also prepares you for a good night of rest. It is also a much healthier alternative to scrolling on your phone at night. Books also help alleviate depression symptoms. Those who are diagnosed with depression often feel isolated from others. Books, music, and relatable TV show characters can ease that feeling of estrangement. Also, non-fiction and self-help books can teach you strategies to help you cope and manage your symptoms.
Reading Allows You to Travel (From the Comfort of Your Home)
Reading fiction allows you to escape from the world around you and become immersed in the imagined experiences of the characters in your book. You can choose anywhere you’d like to go for your literary escape from reality. That’s such a beautiful thing.
Reading Boosts Creativity
Reading stimulates the right side of our brain. It broadens our imaginations and opens our minds to new perspectives, ideas, and possibilities. Reading comprehension can teach us about ourselves as we relate to the characters or storyline. Ultimately, it results in complete authentic creativity. You can ask many writers and I’m sure they would tell you that reading is part of their creative process.
A Final Word…
Reading is beneficial to your mental, emotional, and spiritual health. It improves brain connectivity, increases comprehension, empowers you to empathize, aids in sleep, reduces stress, lowers blood pressure, fights symptoms of depression, and keeps your brain young.
So, skip binge-watching, pick up a book, and create a happier, healthier, and longer life for yourself.