Books are often associated with unlikely things — but health isn’t always on the list. And yet, this oft-overlooked aspect of reading is a powerful one for many different reasons.
Some of the health benefits of reading are obvious while others are more subtle. All of them add to the already convincing argument that reading is one of the most incredible experiences you can ever have.
So, without further ado, here are some of the most important ways that reading is good for your health. That way, the next time someone says you’re spending too much time reading, you can trot out these golden nuggets and say that you’re simply reading “for your health.”
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Increases Your Knowledge
Before we get too nuanced with the takeaways, let’s start with an obvious one: reading can help increase your knowledge — including how you can care for your health.
While many quiet-yet-powerful ways sitting down with a good book can help your health, the most obvious advantage is the fact that you can learn about health through reading. Whether you’re researching how to fight depression or the best exercise routines, there are many ways that reading can inform your health decisions.
Helps You Unplug
Reading has the unfathomable power of distracting you from the barrage of modern electronic devices. This is undoubtedly one of the most important health benefits that come with any piece of physical, written material.
If you have a printed book in your hand, it frees you up to relax your eyes and your body. This often comes after hours spent looking at a phone, a computer, or a television screen. Even the e-ink used on certain Kindles has the benefit of not being a back-lit screen.
This disconnecting or “unplugging” from the digital world that we live in can help to calm the mind. It can allow the body to unwind. This relaxed state isn’t just great for the moments that we’re reading. It can help prepare you for times of rest. This is especially true for bedtime. Reading before bed can enable you to disengage from racing thoughts, detox from blue light, and ultimately get back onto your natural circadian rhythm.
Exercises Your Creativity
In J.R.R. Tolkien’s essay “On Fairy Stories,” the Oxford Don spends a significant portion of the lecture discussing the value of escapism. He attacks the modern besmirchment of the word and defends the fact that reading serves as a perfectly legitimate opportunity for adult human beings to do what we always loved to do as kids: fall into the fathomless depths of our imaginations.
This touches on one of the greatest health-related benefits that reading has to offer. It allows you to tap into your creativity. Not only that, but a good imaginative tale can even allow you to expand your fantastic thoughts. This can provide a sense of relief, recovery, and consolation for anyone who is suffering from mental health concerns.
Helps You Cope
Reading is also an excellent coping mechanism. It allows an individual to tap into countless pre-approved perspectives regarding topics like thankfulness, positivity, and gratitude.
This can do wonders when someone is dealing with a difficult time in their lives. From a job loss to the loss of a loved one to processing a dangerous health diagnosis, books provide an effective way to funnel positive thoughts and messages into your life.
Reduces Stress Through Neatness
Another quiet side-effect of reading is that it can calm nerves through the visual appeal of the books themselves. The way you display your books can have a huge impact on the appearance of your living space.
By setting up your books in a manner that is enjoyable to the eye, can help to enhance your happiness. Additionally, the neat look of a decluttered and orderly bookshelf can also help you stay calm and destressed.
Helps You Empathize
Another powerful side effect of reading is the ability to empathize. Books can be written from an endless variety of different perspectives, all of which can help to further flesh out and broaden your understanding of others. For example, you can learn empathy by reading books that:
- Are written in another language.
- Depict another culture.
- Dig deep into another person’s reasoning.
- Explain ethical, religious, or philosophical views.
This information can be used to help you understand how others think. This can serve as a powerful antidote to the hate-filled drivel that fills so many social media platforms and comment feeds online.
Tapping Into the Benefits of Reading
So, the next time you pick up a book, remember that you aren’t just filling your time with a pointless activity or a meaningless hobby. Reading truly does offer a variety of powerful benefits. These apply to the mind, body, and soul. So, steer into the skid and use the health benefits of reading as an excuse to never again pull your nose out of a good book again.