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7 Ways Reading Can Help Your Mental Health



7 Ways Reading Can Help Your Mental Health

If you have spent many a day with your nose in a book, then there’s some good news for you. Reading is very beneficial for your mental health as well as your interpersonal relationships. Not only are books an excellent source of entertainment, but they also influence your mental health in ways that you have never imagined. Research proves that reading can boost your cognitive health and help keep stress away.

Just like eating right and physical activity is crucial to maintaining physical health, reading daily exercises the brain muscles and helps them unwind after a long and stressful day. Reading for pleasure helps increase self-esteem, confidence, slows down signs of dementia and symptoms of depression.

Immersing yourself in a good book is almost like immersing yourself in a new world. You feel like a part of a fictional world, thus, separating yourself from the daily grind that can be stressful sometimes. What’s more, certain books help you connect with the main characters, so you feel that you are not the only one suffering. A good book often becomes a vital companion in a healing process and opens up doors of empathy.

So, if you need an extra boost to read daily, then we have some scientific facts and valid research to back you up. Here’s why you should visit your local library more often:

1. Helps You Relax And De-stress

According to a study by the University of Sussex, reading helps reduce stress levels by 68%. These statistics prove that reading is one of the strongest activity that helps the brain and the body relax like no other.

So, the next time you find yourself exhausted after a tough day at work, pick up a book and let yourself disconnect from the world for a few hours.

2. Makes Us Empathetic

Research in the mid-90s helped scientists understand the concept of empathy in a much better way. Mirror neurons, the neurons that are fired in our brains when we perform an action or witness someone else performing that action, are formed in our brains while reading.

According to a study, reading stimulates our brains to increase empathy for others. Reading literary fiction evokes the most empathic response as compared to non-fiction reading material. Humans are social creatures, and fiction helps us relate with the characters and understand their struggles which in turn helps increase empathy.

3. Makes You Mentally Flexible

Reading poetry and other poetic material causes fascinating changes to the brain cells. Reading complex text like poetry increases activity in key areas of the brain which promote mental flexibility.

The process of reading poetry and reappraisal of the meaning of words helps increase mental flexibility and adaptation towards unique human behavior and situations. Avid readers are more likely to seek creative solutions rather than just being led by instinct and habit.

4. As Effective As Therapy

Have you found yourself going through a lot of troubles recently? Picking up a book and relating with a similar character or fictional situation like your own is almost as effective as seeking therapy. According to Cristel Russell, a consumer behavior research at the American University, reading can help you find answers to your problems.

So the next time you find yourself relating to a character or situation in a book, pick up a healthy way of dealing with those issues.

5. Enhances Brain Activity

Research proves that reading stories can impact the brain in both psychological and neurological ways. According to a study, the brains of participants were scanned before, during and after reading a fiction book. The result showed that there were significant neurological changes in the brain’s resting state after the participants had finished reading the book.

This study proves that reading provides heightened connectivity to the brain muscles and increased memory muscle.

6. Helps Stave Off Dementia Symptoms

Reading stimulates the brain which helps ward off mental decline and dementia symptoms. Studies show that people who read regularly have 32% fewer chances of mental decline as compared to those who don’t read.

Various brain tests prove that readers are more likely to sleep better, have lower stress levels and higher self-esteem.

7. Increases Spatial Intelligence

Lastly, reading a book can also increase the third form of intelligence- spatial intelligence. Spatial intelligence is related to the concept of one’s place in space and how distances and directions interact. Spatial intelligence helps in activities like map reading, building, planning, and sports.


Did you know that reading is contagious? Seventy-five percent of parents want their children to read more often. If you’re also struggling to make your children bookworms, then start reading actively at home. Read aloud to children till they learn to read on their own.

A research by Scholastic suggests that reading aloud to younger kids helps them become frequent readers later on in life. Organize fun story time sessions at home to spark kids’ interest in reading.

Reading helps us stay away from mental decline, acts as a de-stressor and also increases empathy. What more motivation do you need to start reading regularly? Do you read every day? If yes, share some of your favorite books with us in the comments below.


Alycia Gordan is a freelance writer who loves to read and write articles on healthcare technology, fitness and lifestyle. She is a tech junkie and divides her time between travel and writing. You can find her on Twitter.

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