The Benefits of Reading
With mental health at an all-time low for the modern world because of the pandemic, there are a lot of mental and emotional needs that aren’t being fulfilled. Despite a widespread avoidance or dislike of reading among youth, it is important to realize the benefits of reading for the mind, whether it be comic books, novels, or textbooks.
The first obvious benefit of reading is learning. When someone reads a book, whether it be fiction or nonfiction, there is much to be learned. Evidently, students have been reading textbooks for years and learning from them for their studies. Regardless of the field of study, textbooks hold the same information that any lecture can. But there is still much to be learned from non-textbook/non-informational reading, such as reading found in novels and other types of books. Studies show that “people who read literary fiction — stories that explore the inner lives of characters — show a heightened ability to understand the feelings and beliefs of others. Researchers call this ability the “theory of mind” – a set of skills essential for building, navigating, and maintaining social relationships.” Reading not only helps people learn about objective information, but it also helps people learn about emotions, empathy, and helps to build emotional intelligence.
Beyond strengthening the mind through knowledge, reading can also help to reduce stress and helps lower symptoms of depression. Studies show that reading reduces blood pressure, heart rate, and feelings of psychological stress just as effectively as other routes to reducing stress, like humor or yoga. By reducing stress, many people find themselves in better moods after reading. Reading allows people to escape their world and stop worrying about things that are bothering them, making it an effective strategy to combat negative emotions and even depression.
Reading also strengthens neural pathways in your brain and boosts cognitive abilities. Studies show that reading helps reduce the risk of diseases like Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia because people who read regularly keep their minds strong by focusing on stories. Additionally, doctors at the Mayo Clinic suggest reading as a part of one’s regular sleeping habits, because such activities calm the nerves (preparing you for bed) and help expend any mental energy you might have too much of before hitting the hay.
Regardless of what you’re reading, there are obvious positive benefits for both your mental and emotional well-being. Reading helps you learn, helps you sleep, keeps your mind strong and sharp, helps you de-stress, treats negative emotions and even depression, and, ultimately, reading can be a lot of fun. Reading is an important aspect of life, yet often a forgotten one. Given these benefits, I highly recommend you pick up a book, at least from time to time, and enjoy yourself.
This blog was written by Riley, a Student Ambassador at High Sierra AHEC. Upon graduation from high school, he intends to study public health or life sciences at a university or service academy.
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