5 benefits of reading books for all ages

Reading is a hobby that helps ward off stress and improve overall mental health. Here are 5 benefits of reading books and how it can change your life!

If I were to explain the benefits of reading books, I would say that reading is a good exercise for your brain. Have you ever noticed a sense of calmness take over as you deep dive into the world of an unknown book? Reading books helps you be calm, focused, and relaxed. A 2009 study from the University of Sussex found that reading can lower heart rate, ease muscle tension, and alleviate stress. This fun activity isn’t just good for your mind, it also has positive effects on your physical well-being. It gives you a way to escape from your daily stress and tension and offers you endless learning possibilities.

Why is reading good for your mental health?

Diving into a heartwarming novel evokes feelings of joy and comfort and diverts your mind from everyday stress. Similarly, a humorous book can induce laughter, acting as a natural mood booster. This immersive nature of reading allows you to disconnect from reality, fostering a positive mental state. Ultimately, reading has a unique ability to uplift your spirit and enhance overall mood, strengthening the mind and improving mental health.

To help you know why you should also start reading, Health Shots spoke with Dr Austin Fernandes, a certified psychiatrist. Dr Fernandes says, “Reading not only keeps your mental state active but also provides physical benefits. It helps manage emotions, keeps the brain active, and increases mental and emotional fitness.“

5 mental health benefits of reading books

1. Improves cognitive health

Reading is a mental workout that enhances critical thinking skills and creativity. As readers navigate complex plots, diverse characters, and intricate storylines, they stimulate various regions of the brain, enhancing connectivity to the story. Research published in Neurology found that reading may maintain cognitive function and prevent conditions like Alzheimer’s disease.

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Read a book to calm your mind. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

2. Enhances sleep

No, we are not saying that reading is a boring activity due to which you may fall asleep easily. But unlike screen time, which can interfere with the production of sleep-inducing hormones, reading helps to bring consciousness to another level, which promotes a more restful night’s sleep, according to a 2020 study published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ).

3. Stress relief

Reading acts as a powerful stress reliever that alleviates feelings of anxiety and worry. In 2009, a group of researchers proved that just 30 minutes of reading can lower blood pressure levels, heart rates, and stress just as effectively as yoga. Trust us, this is the best way to unwind!

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4. Enhances empathy

Reading fiction, in particular, allows individuals to step into the shoes of diverse characters and experience different perspectives. According to a 2013 study published in Science, researchers found that this empathetic connection with fictional characters can extend to real-life situations, fostering a deeper understanding of others and promoting empathy in us.

5. Elevates your mood

Books have the power to uplift and improve your mood. It can serve as a therapeutic escape, providing a positive emotional experience that counteracts feelings of sadness or anxiety. Engaging in uplifting literature can contribute to a more positive outlook on life.

happy woman
Reading books has so much to offer. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

Apart from these mental health benefits of reading, a 2016 study published in the journal Social Science and Medicine found that reading books contributes to a longer life and can reduce mortality up to 20 percent. It happens because reading keeps the brain active and stimulates emotional connections with others, which helps you stay calm, happy, and stress-free in life.

Books can make you laugh and cry and can generate enthusiasm. Reading can also entertain you and release feel-good hormones in your body, which help you relax, manage pain, and relieve stress.