Reading is an activity that enhances our mental health and wellbeing. Settling in with a good book is a very nice thing we can do for ourselves. Our mental health and wellbeing are much more than the mere absence of problems. In fact, the absence of problems isn’t even part of mental health and wellbeing. It’s impossible to live a problem-free life, but it is very possible to create wellbeing and live mentally healthy despite problems and challenges. The process of increasing and maintaining mental health can be quite pleasant. It can involve reading!
Ways Reading Enhances Mental Health and Wellbeing
Reading offers many benefits, including a genuine, lasting boost to our mental health and wellbeing. When we open a book, we’re opening ourselves to so many wonderful things. Here are just six:
Joy.When we read for pleasure, we’re treating ourselves. Simply getting into a good book allows us to step back from the day’s heaviness and feel joy.
Choices. Having opportunities to choose things, to have things how we want them to be, is important for our mental health. Daily life, though, is full of compromising, giving in, and even being told what to do. Reading is something that is personal and allows us not just choices but a sense of control. You can read what you want to read; it’s a very personal choice. Reading is empowering.
Emotions. Reading can be a very emotional experience. If you’ve ever needed Kleenex to read a book, you know what I mean. Reading allows you to experience emotions in a safe way. We feel and we react by laughing or crying or getting angry, but it’s safe. We experience the emotions, but they’re not our own emotions. We’re less likely to hold onto them, get stuck in them, or lash out because of them.
Empathy. We feel emotional when reading certain novels because we’ve developed empathy for the characters. Sometimes characters are put through the wringer, and we feel for them. That empathy transfers to real-world human beings. (Which is why the novels I write have characters facing the challenge of mental illness.
Self-Care. Reading is a wonderful way to care for ourselves. To read, we have to step away from our chores and duties. Taking breaks is imperative for mental health. We can pair reading with a cup of tea or coffee, and we can snuggle into a favorite chair and immerse ourselves in a good book.
Bonding. Connecting with others is another important activity for our wellbeing. Reading brings people together. The popularity of book clubs is evidence of the power of books to create bonding. Reading can enhance family bonding, too, through designated reading-together times (Wednesday Evening Words or Saturday Afternoon Stories, for example). Each person can read his or her own book, or families can create their own book clubs (with books geared toward the youngest reader). It’s a good way, too, to get to know each other more deeply, by sharing favorite genres and books.
Reading is a fun way to exercise your mind, create wellbeing, and enhance mental health. The activity definitely isn’t passive and neutral. So the next time you want to grab a book, kick back, and read, do so without guilt.
Some mental health novels for your mental health and wellbeing: