Life is stressful. From family responsibilities to workplace stressors, we’re all under pressure, and that can easily become overwhelming. When we’re faced with chronic stress, we’re at increased risk of not only developing physical illness but also of experiencing mental illness, ranging from depression to anxiety.
Indeed, unless you’re making consistent and concerted efforts to manage your stress and nourish your mental and emotional health, you may well be setting the stage for burnout. The good news, however, is that burnout doesn’t have to be your destiny; there are ways to prevent it. One of the best, in fact, is through reading.
Image Source: Pixabay
What Is Burnout?
Let’s face it, being an adult is hard. There’s constant pressure not only to perform but to perform better. Often, for example, the success of your career hinges on both your willingness and your ability to take on ever greater levels of responsibility.
In many ways, of course, this can be a positive thing. After all, no one wants to remain static, to stop learning and growing. However, such striving has to be balanced with downtime. The mind, body, and spirit need time to rest, to replenish their sources of energy and creativity.
When you don’t give yourself this critical time to rejuvenate, then burnout, which is characterized by a loss of motivation, interest, energy, and performance, is almost an inevitability.
As any book lover will tell you, though, sitting down every day to a good book can be precisely what the doctor ordered when it comes to resting and restoring your mind, body, and spirit. Research has shown, for example, that one of the most significant mental health benefits of reading is that it provides a temporary escape from the stressors of your daily life.
Reading as Inspiration
No matter what your particular field, your work, as well as your life, will ask something of you each and every day. You’ll be required to create a quality work product on the job or attend to a loved one in need while at home. For creative professionals, though, the pressure to produce can be especially great, which can increase the likelihood of burnout.
Reading, however, can be a powerful tool for reigniting your creativity when you’re feeling overwhelmed and demoralized. After all, it’s unrealistic to expect yourself to always be producing if you’re not feeding the machine. That’s why you need to consume media as well as create it.
By losing yourself in a gripping novel, a fascinating biography, or simply an intriguing news story, you’re giving your mind and spirit the fuel it needs to kindle the fires of your creativity. Research has shown, for instance, that reading offers a wide array of benefits that help keep your mind sharp. This includes promoting relaxation and healthier sleep, as well as supporting memory, focus, and overall cognitive processing.
Reading for Pleasure
Reading for pleasure is one of the most important ways to harness the power of reading to prevent burnout. Even though reading will benefit your mental health, inspire your creativity, and even enhance your productivity at work and at home, try not to let that be your primary focus when you sit down to read.
Instead, allow yourself to get lost in the enjoyment of reading. Don’t feel guilty if you’re not slogging through a heavy tome of classic literature or a volume of dense material related to your work. That’s just going to be counterproductive.
Reading for pleasure means choosing the material that you love, the material that engages and inspires you, no matter what it is. So embrace your guilty reading pleasures without judgment. The important thing is to allow your reading to rest, comfort, and nourish you.
If you’re a writer and you’re feeling blocked, for example, try returning to the favorite books and authors that inspired your career in the first place. Even if you’ve read a text a thousand times, making time to revisit an old literary love can provide an uplifting sense of familiarity and joy.
Even if you’re not a writer, though, you can still look for material that piques your interest and sings to your soul. You may, for instance, be an accountant with the soul of a starving artist. So why not pick up a Van Gogh biography or some simple adventure story with a protagonist who one day decides to chuck it all and move to Europe to paint. When it comes to reading, the world is literally at your fingertips!
In today’s “always-on” world, you might feel as if you have precious little time for reading. In reality, though, reading can offer profound mental health benefits, including enabling you to avoid burnout. That, in turn, can help you become happier, healthier, and more productive in your life, your home, and your work!