Books are everywhere. Libraries big and small and bookstores are splattered all over college campuses and larger cities. They are all filled with one of the most important things of all time—books. Those who read books appreciate the multiple places to find books. Those who aren’t fans of books, don’t understand what could make readers want to obsess over books. There is a reason for their obsession, though. You hear it all the time: read every day.
Though reading might seem like simple fun, it can be helping your body and mind without you even realising what is happening. Reading can be more important for these reasons and not just knowledge. For those who don’t enjoy reading, you might change your mind after hearing about the benefits. Can something so easy and fun as reading be so helpful in your life? Of course, it can! Reading can be a great benefit to you in many different ways—such as sharpening your mind, imagination, and writing skills. With so many advantages of reading, it should be an everyday occurrence to read at least a little something.
1. Mental Stimulation
Studies have shown that staying mentally stimulated can slow the progress of (or possibly even prevent) Alzheimer’s and Dementia, since keeping your brain active and engaged prevents it from losing power.
Just like any other muscle in the body, the brain requires exercise to keep it strong and healthy, so the phrase “use it or lose it” is particularly apt when it comes to your mind. Doing puzzles and playing games such as chess have also been found to be helpful with cognitive stimulation.
2. Vocabulary and Knowledge Expansion
When reading, you might come across a few words you don’t quite understand or even recognise. This confusion can lead you to look up the word and discover the definition. Dictionaries, both in book form or ebook form, can be beneficial to your understanding this new word you might not recognise. Because you didn’t know the word, to begin with, the act of searching for the definition helps your brain retain that new and exciting word. Consider how far your vocabulary has come since you first learned to read. You now know many new words that are more intelligent sounding than when you first started reading.
What does this do to benefit you? Well, after several days of reading and looking up new words you don’t understand, your vocabulary will begin to expand one word at a time. Words and phrases, when reading every day, fill your brain with a new vocabulary that you might never have learned without reading. This is proven in this study by the University Of Oregon.
Often, you might not even realise how much your vocabulary has increased after even just one day of heavy reading. These words that you have been learning will begin to integrate themselves into your everyday vocabulary, and you will start to catch yourself using these words. It is incredible how much you take in while reading, and this aspect of understanding is another significant benefit of daily reading.
3. Stress and Tension Relief
Most people know from experience that reading is a great form of entertainment, but what you and those other people might not realise is that reading can help lower stress levels. You read that little fact right, though it seems strange to say. The act of reading and focusing on the written word can help relieve your mind of anxiety and the pressures of the day. By pulling your mind away from the stress at hand, you can relax and let the stress melt away.
Reading sounds almost too good to be true, but how does reading decrease stress? While reading, your brain immediately transports itself to a different world with different people. This change in pace can be a breath of fresh air for someone who is stressed out or suffers from extended periods of stress. By reading, you can allow yourself to take a breath, relax, and be swept away to another world through the words written on the page.
Stress can affect many parts of your daily life, and after long periods of intense stress, it can even be harmful to your overall health. Reading, both novels, and other literature can help solve the issues that stress causes by allowing your mind and body to relax. Once you start reading, you will start to focus, not on your stress, but on the words and storyline. In time, reading will lower your stress level, making you feel better mentally and physically.
4. Helps With Depression and Dysthymia
Reading, especially self-help books, can help ward off depressive occurrences. Just like with lowering your stress levels, reading stimulates the part of the brain that deals with depression as well. Self-help books, full of information about how to better yourself and your state of mind, can help ease depression. Reading books can be extremely beneficial for someone who might suffer from depressive tendencies but not enough to need medication.
You can find self-help books at any bookstore or online bookshop. They aren’t the only books that can help ease the depressive tendencies of some, however. Novels, short stories, magazine articles, and non-fiction books can also contribute to ease these tendencies. By reading, you are focusing, not on the things causing your depression, but things that can give you something else to consider. You are then no longer worried about your depressive state, but instead, you are focused on the story.
Decreasing depression might seem like an odd benefit of reading, but the stimulation of the brain is extremely helpful when it comes to easing something of this nature. The feeling of happiness that also comes from reading can brighten your mood, helping your day turn from sad to happy. Of course, reading is not a permanent fix for a serious problem, but it can help ease the difficulties of depression. Reading literature works much like a pain reliever might relieve joint pain.
Reading literature works much like a pain reliever might relieve joint pain
5. Memory Improvement and Better Focus
Though it has been mentioned earlier about how reading can improve concentration and critical thinking, there is another part of mental health that reading helps to improve. This point is stated by NCU on their blog. Reading at least a little each day can improve your focus and your memory function. In this instance as well, reading stimulates the brain, particularly the part of the brain that helps with memory and attention. Just like with physical exercise, reading is a form of mental exercise that pushes your memory and focus to the limits.
Simple reading comprehension improves your memory function. Remember the tests in elementary school where you were tested to see how much you retained while reading those short stories. Well, the reading comprehension as an adult works the same way. While reading, your brain is constantly retaining pieces of information about the story. Because the part of the brain that controls memory is stimulated, it acts like exercise for this part of the brain, resulting in improved memory.
How does your focus improve through reading? Your focus is strengthened through reading because it requires focus to read. When sitting down to read a book or article, you will not understand what you are reading unless you’re focused. Consider what it is like when doing a math problem. To get it correct, you have to focus intently on that problem. The same goes for reading. Again, like the memory function in your brain, your focus is exercised, which helps to improve your overall focus.
6. Strengthens Your Writing Abilities
Reading doesn’t just have health benefits; reading has benefits for other aspects of your life as well. These advantages help to make readers well-rounded individuals. Those who write, know the importance of reading. Whether you write things for work or just for fun, heavy reading can improve your writing skills and abilities. There are several ways in which reading can help strengthen your writing skills, and each of these ways happens without you even realising it.
7. Enhances Your Imagination and Empathy
Although the enhancement of your imagination is not one of the more common benefits, reading can significantly increase your imagination. Consider the worlds that you are immersed to and the characters you come across while reading a novel. Because of these worlds and characters, the part of your brain which houses your imagination is stimulated, causing you to imagine what the places and people look like just by picturing the words.
When you begin reading a book, you usually don’t have a picture in your head right at the start. By the time you are finishing the book, however, you can easily imagine the entire world and characters that fill the book. Reading books is all due to the stimulation of the brain that reading induces. Heavy readers will know the feeling of losing themselves in the worlds of novels. It is a wonderful feeling.
The imagination is a powerful tool that can be useful in all aspects of life. Though it might not be considered as often, the imagination is what allows us to be empathetic with people. This empathy can help on the job or even at home. With reading being an excellent way to improve your imagination, it is no wonder that books have been a favourite for so many years.
8. Boosts Your Sleep
Did you know that reading can also help with your sleep? No, this doesn’t mean that reading helps you fall asleep, but it does contribute to improving your overall sleep pattern and restfulness. Reading, since it enables you to relax and de-stress, can help pull you into a deep and peaceful sleep. That sounds like it might be too good to be true, but reading can, in fact, help you sleep.
Books are great company at night before you go to bed. Choosing a good book and settling down after dark is incredibly relaxing. If your day is busy, take a breath. By setting apart specific times for reading just before falling asleep at night, you can help yourself relax and wind down before falling asleep. The type of literature you read is your preference, but merely the fact that you are reading is the important part.
Reading before bed calms your body and mind, especially after a long and stressful day. Even if the reading is just a short amount—a chapter or two—the peacefulness that reading induces can help slip you into a deep and restful sleep. The relaxation that books can bring is just one of the wonderful benefits of reading every night before bed.
9. Enjoy Your Entertainment and Peace
Perhaps the most well-known benefit of reading is the entertainment value of opening a book with crisp, white pages. Of course, the entertainment of reading is typically what draws avid readers to pick up the next great book. In fact, reading has been a solid form of entertainment for many years. Though reading is perfect for entertainment, there’s more to reading than just the entertainment factor.
Any reader knows that reading can be peaceful and induce a relaxing state of mind. By immersing yourself in a good book, you can almost feel any stress or worry melt away. You are both entertained and relaxed just by reading, which is just one of the many great things about books.
With the ability to entertain and induce peacefulness, reading has been a constant comfort to people of all ages and from all walks of life. For years, this entertainment factor has been at the forefront of literature. Books and other forms of writing are still just as popular today. The peaceful state of reading has been just an amazing as the entertainment. Many great readers and writers have mentioned the importance of reading throughout their careers, being advocates for reading.
By immersing yourself in a good book, you can almost feel any stress or worry melt away
10. Reading Can Brighten Your Day
Books can bring joy to your life on a daily basis. The act of reading is a great benefit both to mental and physical health, but it can also brighten your day. Sometimes, the days can be stressful and worrisome, but when you lay down at night and curl up with a good book, it lifts your spirits along with that stress and worry.
There’s no reason to feel upset about stressful situations. Just take some time out from your day, read a little bit, and feel yourself relaxing. As compelling as meditation and yoga are at brightening your day, a little time spent alone with a book is a lovely way to spend your afternoon or night. Books are easy to carry around, especially with the popular e-readers, and you can enjoy your reading time anywhere.
From vacations to a quick moment while waiting in the carpool line, reading is an effective means of relaxation in an otherwise busy world. If you love to get up early, you should start your day with a little light reading. Your day will be just a little bit brighter, and you can breathe easy. Let books take a little weight off your shoulders so you can enjoy the things around you. Take a few moments for yourself and just read.
11. Helps You to Broaden Your Mind
Books allow you to see things from a completely different perspective. Reading a book about a certain culture, for example, can help you to understand how that culture differs from your own. You might not agree with that culture’s perspective, but at least you’ll look at things from a new angle.
Books give you new ideas. You’re constantly learning when you’re reading, and you can start to look at the world from a more balanced perspective. In the absence of other viewpoints, we tend to have a very one-dimensional type of thinking based on our upbringing.
We act the way we do because that’s what we learned during our formative years. We look at things from the angle of our own experience. Using this lens, it is easy to assume that our way is the correct way. Books can help us see things in a new light, allowing us to let go of the notions of “correct” or “incorrect” and seeing instead different ways of being human.
Take, for example, the image of a Muslim woman wearing a burka or hijab. A lot of people in Western society may view this as a type of oppression. In reality, however, many Muslim women choose to dress in this manner as a part of their spiritual beliefs.
If you were to read a book or article on the matter written by a Muslim woman, you could learn to start seeing things from her perspective. It’s a big world out there, and reading is one way to expand your mind to all the possibilities.
12. Stronger Analytical Thinking Skills
Have you ever read an amazing mystery novel, and solved the mystery yourself before finishing the book? If so, you were able to put critical and analytical thinking to work by taking note of all the details provided and sorting them out to determine “whodunnit”.
That same ability to analyze details also comes in handy when it comes to critiquing the plot; determining whether it was a well-written piece, if the characters were properly developed, if the storyline ran smoothly, etc.
Should you ever have an opportunity to discuss the book with others, you’ll be able to state your opinions clearly, as you’ve taken the time to really consider all the aspects involved.
13. Free Entertainment
Though many of us like to buy books so we can annotate them and dog-ear pages for future reference, they can be quite pricey.
For low-budget entertainment, you can visit your local library and bask in the glory of the countless tomes available there for free. Libraries have books on every subject imaginable, and since they rotate their stock and constantly get new books, you’ll never run out of reading materials.
If you happen to live in an area that doesn’t have a local library, or if you’re mobility-impaired and can’t get to one easily, most libraries have their books available in PDF or ePub format so you can read them on your e-reader, iPad, or your computer screen.
There are also many sources online where you can download free e-books, so go hunting for something new to read!
There’s a reading genre for every literate person on the planet, and whether your tastes lie in classical literature, poetry, fashion magazines, biographies, religious texts, young adult books, self-help guides, street lit, or romance novels, there’s something out there to capture your curiosity and imagination.
Step away from your computer for a little while, crack open a book, and replenish your soul for a little while.