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Struggling with anxiety? These are 5 ways in which reading can improve mental well-being

Updated on:2 August 2021, 09:37am IST
We are almost always on our smartphones, and the reliance on them has only increased in the pandemic. How about adopting reading as a habit to improve your mental well-being?
Himanshu Goel
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book reading
Reading can really reduce stress. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
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The lockdown has been terrible for our mental health in a myriad of ways, but perhaps one of the worst effects has been the increased usage of smartphones. We were already down a dark path when over-reliance on smartphones had begun, but our screen time has touched record highs in the last two years. Without the need or ability to go out of our homes, we are stuck with our phones and laptops for both work and entertainment. This is where our trustworthy friend can come to the rescue, the good old paperback. Reading on paper (or even e-ink display) won’t put half as much stress on your eyes and mind as a digital screen. Be rest assured that your time will be well spent, and your eyes will thank you for it. Forget about all those notifications and status updates and pick up a book next time.

Empathize, reduce anxiety and improve your social skills

Regardless of the lockdown, there are times when we feel like we have lost connection with our emotional and mental halves. Whether you are a student or a working individual, the daily grind can wear the mind out and make it numb in more ways than one. Art is always the best gateway to form a better connection with those parts. While we have unlimited options when it comes to movies and TV shows online, there is something about books that helps us form a deeper connection.

book reading
books can give your mental health a much-needed nudge. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Reading a book can help you empathize and understand people better. If you are someone who enjoys fiction, you can explore hundreds of different characters, what makes them tick, their motivations, fears and beliefs. All that knowledge can help reduce social anxiety and connect with people better. 

A gym and nutritious diet for your brain

Just like we need to work our bodies to stay fit, our brains need to work out as well. The world is moving towards short 30-second videos these days to cater to our short attention spans. You can compare those to a fast-food burger. While it may be satisfactory in the short term, it offers almost no nutritional value. A good book is like a wholesome healthy meal for your brain and mental well-being. It is a well-established fact that reading books can help the brain’s cognitive functions, and reduce stress and anxiety. So, help your brain with the nutrition and exercise it needs by making reading a habit.

There’s so much diversity

We might be in the golden age of self-help books. From ancient Japanese philosophy to modern psychological techniques, there are many great books these days that are written for the exact purpose of improving our lives. Self-help books can be a great place to start off with, if you are not a fiction person. They are filled with knowledge and learnings from around the world.

book reading
By concentrating on the words and the storyline, it stimulates your brain and cognitive functions. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
The perfect companion for a peaceful sleep

A good night’s sleep can do wonders for your mental well-being, daily routine and overall happiness. Most of the time, we find ourselves sleeping next to our phones. Having a bedtime routine can be the exact thing you need to fix all those sleep troubles. It can help your mind ease and wind down at the end of the day and put you in prime position for a great slumber. Pick up your current favourite book before bed, and you’ll see a difference.

The last word

The best thing about books is that they can come in any shape and size. If reading a book sounds like too much work, go for poetry or a short story. If you are not in the mood for fiction, read a non-fiction book or a blog. You can read in the traditional paper format, on an e-reader or on your phone. There is more stuff to read and more ways to read than ever before in history. So, what are you waiting for?

Himanshu Goel Himanshu Goel

Mr. Himanshu Goel is an author and a poet. His love for storytelling and communication has found expression in the several books that he has written. His work has inspired thousands of people on social media and is continuing to do so every day. With an MBA in strategic marketing and communication from MICA, he aims to reach out to more people with his words. Grateful to the power of social media and technology, he is presently working on converting his books into audiobooks so that they are accessible to more people. Apart from this, his ongoing works also include a self-help book on the Japanese philosophy of Wabi-Sabi. For Mr. Goel, inspiration to write may come from anywhere - be it a documentary or the works of his fellow authors and poets. Greatly inspired by the poetic works of Charles Bukowski and Mary Oliver, he wishes to pen down poetry and several bestselling novels in the years to come. He also aims to build a platform for up-and-coming writers. For him, all the responses and love that he gets for books is a huge motivating factor that drives him to write. He also likes to visit libraries and bookstores occasionally for inspiration. When not writing or reading, Mr. Goel spends his time involved in gaming, photography, football, and technology.