6 simple ways reading can improve your mental health

September 29, 2019


Every book lover can relate to the joy that reading can bring. But how does reading actually make us happier? Here are 6 simple ways books can improve your mental health.

Stress relief

Reading is one of the most mentally absorbing activities you can do, taking you out of your stress bubble and into another world where your problems don’t exist. Personally, if I'm super stressed out and I try to watch TV, my mind isn't engaged enough and starts to drift back to any issues I'm worrying about. But books can quickly and easily give you that well needed space away from your own thoughts by steering them in another direction completely. 

Process your problems

As well as taking you away from your own stress, reading can give you corresponding examples of problems you are facing in your own life, and strategies for how to deal with them. Even in fiction books, character struggles are essential to many plots, whether the issues revolve around toxic friendships, family problems, large fantastical struggles they have to overcome, etc. These can give you another perspective on struggles of your own, and inspiration for how to overcome them, leading to a plan of action and a more positive outlook on life.

Digital detox

When you prioritise reading, you cut down on time spent aimlessly scrolling through social media, proven to have a negative impact on our self-esteem. Books can increase the time you spend away from the screen, and thus improve your mental health. I like to utilise the Downtime function on my iPhone to lock my apps at certain times of the day - I spend a lot of this time reading!

Better sleep 

Linked to the above point, putting away your screens for an hour before you go to sleep and focusing solely on reading instead will improve your sleep drastically. There's been so much scientific research into how screens stimulate our brains and keep us awake, whereas looking at a page helps to relax the mind in preparation for bed. Sleep is so important for your mental as well as physical health - if you're overtired, it can be difficult to grasp the reality of situations and your emotions will be negatively affected. Reading before bed is a sure fire way to improve your sleep, and your mentality!

Sense of achievement

Finishing a book gives you a great sense of accomplishment, however small, that you won’t find when binge watching shows on Netflix. This sense of fulfilment can increase your happiness and self-esteem. I love keeping lists, and have many different to-do and TBR lists (as well as my Goodreads challenge), and I always feel so satisfied when I tick off a book from one of them!

Improves your expression

The more you read, the better your vocabulary and expression will be, no matter your stage in life. Reading equips you with the tools to be able to articulate your thoughts and feelings, which is directly linked to improved mental health. I personally find that this is linked to the point about processing your problems above - sometimes a book encapsulates what I'm feeling in a way that I'm struggling to express myself, and I can use this as a point of reference if I'm trying to explain my thoughts to someone.

 Additionally, the topics you come across in your reading give you new points of conversation, improving socialisation skills, and thus boosting confidence and happiness. I know how excited I get when I meet another book lover and we can discuss all of the books we have read and enjoyed - it makes reading all the more fun. 

Reading for as little as half an hour before you go to sleep can lead to an improvement in your mental health. So put your phone down, pick your book up, and start on the pathway to a healthier mindset. 



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