Like any part of the body, the brain needs exercise to keep it strong, happy and healthy.
Reading is one way to keep your mind active and has been shown to benefit mental health, improve memory and lower the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease later in life.
Books offer something for everyone. Whether you’re a romantic, a fantasy lover, or a lover of science, there are plenty of stories for you to fall in love with.
Reading reduces stress
Picking up a book can be just as relaxing as doing half an hour of yoga, according to a 2009 study published in the Journal of College Teaching and Learning. Reading offers readers a distraction from the stress of work, study, health and difficult relationships.
It alleviates depression and anxiety
Regular reading can ease symptoms of depression and anxiety. In fact, Bibliotherapy is the term used to describe the therapeutic use of reading to help treat mental health conditions.
Self-help books can provide readers with skills to deal with low mood and anxious thoughts, however other genres, such as fantasy and sci-fi, have also been shown to boost mood, ease anxiety and help with grief.
It offers escapism
Diving into fictional worlds can offer a temporary escape from work stress, mental illness and issues in your personal life. Books allow you to mentally transport yourself out of your physical surroundings, allowing time for personal reflection.
Improved sleep quality
Poor sleep is detrimental to mental health. Making reading part of your nightly routine can combat insomnia and increase sleep quality. However, it is important to read physical novels before bed, as light from screens and e-readers can actually worsen sleep.
Reading can help your social life
Lack of social connections can lead to feelings of alienation, anxiety and depression. Reading fiction has been linked to improved empathy and social cognition. High levels of empathy lead to increased feelings of human connection and social satisfaction. What’s more, books are the perfect conversation starter, and can help you establish and strengthen new relationships.
October is National Mental Health Month – an initiative of the Mental Health Foundation Australia (MHFA) to advocate for and raise awareness of Australian mental health. It is an important time where the Australian community comes together to raise awareness and promote better mental health for all.
Today – October 10 – is World Mental Health Day and World Homeless Day. Please consider supporting the work of The Footpath Library to provide books and reading glasses to people experiencing homelessness.
This article was written by volunteer content writer, Emily White.