There’s nothing quite like getting lost in a good book; discovering new worlds and reading gripping stories is one of the best forms of entertainment there is.
Part of Rachel Wood, founder of Rare Birds Book Club mission is to help people discover the joy of reading for fun. It’s amazing how many adults forget what a simple pleasure it can be.
But as well as offering a great way to spend an evening or pass the time on a boring commute, reading also offers some incredible benefits that help increase your mental wellbeing, too.
There’s a powerful incentive to pick up a book and spend a few minutes reading and to reap the rewards it doesn’t even matter what you read. Your favourite beach read offers as much to your state of mind as keeping up on current affairs with the daily paper.
Don’t believe me? Here are five ways reading for pleasure can also help boost your mental wellbeing.
It reduces stress – in less than ten minutes
Something readers tell us over and over is that getting lost in a book is a great way to relieve stress.
Science backs this; a study from the University of Sussex found that reading can tangibly reduce stress in just six minutes and can reduce your stress levels by as much as 68 per cent.
While you’re busy settling into the next chapter your muscles relax and your heart rate slows, helping take the edge off your stress levels and make you feel calmer overall. Set aside ten minutes each day to read and watch how quickly your stress levels start to drop.
It offers an escape
Nora Ephron said it best: “Reading is escape, and the opposite of escape; it’s a way to make contact with reality after a day of making things up, and it’s a way of making contact with someone else’s imagination after a day that’s all too real.”
Reading a good book is like stepping into a portal to another world; you can leave behind your own reality for a few minutes (or a few hours…) and get lost in a fictional universe instead.
Dipping into a book offers the opportunity for you to get some distance from what’s going on in your own life. After an hour spent reading you might just find you have some more perspective on what’s bothering you or have the headspace to make more sense of one of life’s challenges.
It helps you sleep better
Sleep experts stress the importance of having a wind-down routine to help you get to sleep, and few activities are better for this than reading.
As more studies uncover the harmful impact of too much blue-light exposure, reading a book can help you step away from your screen, slow down and give your eyes and mind a chance to unwind and prepare for sleep.
Reading increases your empathy
If you’ve ever felt like a good book has changed your life, this is why: reading fiction has been found to make people more empathetic.
When you read fiction, you’re faced with situations, stories and experiences other than your own. Even though the people you read about aren’t real, it helps make you more adept at relating to others in real life. How cool is that?
It focuses your mind
If you find yourself reaching for your phone and scrolling social media without even thinking about it or struggling to focus on one task at a time without getting distracted, reading might be just what you need to break the cycle.
Just like mindfulness and meditation are much-lauded methods for improving focus and wellbeing, reading can offer many of the same benefits.
To read and understand a story requires your full concentration. While your imagination is busy bringing the words on the page to life in your mind’s eye it doesn’t have the bandwidth to do anything else, and the more you do it, the easier it gets to carry this into other parts of your life. Say goodbye to mindless scrolling.
Image credits: Rare Birds Book Club