When looking to be successful, adding an hour or two of reading to your routine may not be your first idea unless it’s for self-help books. However, the benefits of reading go beyond helping you be successful and productive. Along with helping you develop a larger vocabulary and hone your creativity, it also can improve your mental health.
Therapy has become more widely accessible in recent years, especially through the advancements of online therapy services like MyTherapist. Reading a genre you enjoy, like fiction or mystery, is a common pastime mental health professionals recommend to help manage things like stress and anxiety. As you build a routine centered around productivity and success, take the time to add a few books for these mental health benefits
The focused state you find yourself in while reading has many relaxing benefits. The calm it induces can lower your heart rate and blood pressure, ease muscle tension, and reduce anxiety. The kind of book you read doesn’t necessarily matter – your state of mind is the primary concern. Choose your favorite genre and set aside at least half an hour where you won’t be interrupted. Avoid things like the news or stories that have similar situations to what’s causing you stress.
Mindfulness is the ability to focus on what’s happening in the moment without judgement, simply reacting rather than using the time to assess a future outcome. Focusing on the present is important for any thriving entrepreneur or businessperson. While planning for the future is essential, the way to pave the right path is through actions you make today.
As you’re reading, you need to focus on what’s going on in the scene at hand – while you may be able to guess what comes later, you won’t know for sure until you finish the book. If you’re not paying attention, you can miss key clues to a plot twist ending. You may be able to go back and reread a book to get a better understanding of what you missed but this unfortunately isn’t always the case in life.
Improve Cognitive Function
As you age, certain parts of your brain’s functionality begins to decline. The National Institute on Aging encourages people to read regularly as they grow older as an essential way to keeping your mind engaged. Your brain, like your muscles, needs continuous practice in order to stay strong. Activities like reading, playing games, and learning can help reduce the risk of memory loss, sleep problems, and mental health conditions.
Being a successful individual requires empathy, the ability to understand and respond to a person’s feelings and reactions. While a fictional character may not be someone you can reach out to and physically practice empathy with, you can still develop empathy by reading about their stories. Because you may receive an inside look at their emotions and the figurative description of their feelings, it helps you understand their reactions and replicate those emotions in your imagination.
As you connect to a character and watch them grow and develop along their journey, you may eventually form a kind of bond with them. As they experience success, you become excited – your heart rate may increase, you may smile while reading, and if you put the book down in the middle of the chapter, you might feel like you’re in a better mood. Similarly, if they’re experiencing hardship or loss, your chest can start to hurt and the scene may even move you to tears.
Adding Some Personal Time
Whether you’re looking to get ahead in your career or with a personal project, it’s important to take a bit of extra time for yourself. Whether you have the time to read about an hour a day or just for short 10 minute segments, regularly taking a look through a book or magazine can significantly affect your mental health. Reducing stress, increasing mindfulness and empathy, and improving your brain’s health are a few examples of how it can make an impact of your life. With the tools and experiences you pick up through reading, you’re taking the initiative to work on your mental health for a more successful future.