Can reading books improve your mental health?
Time and again, reading has shown to be beneficial for human beings in a large number of ways. Reading has been touted as the superfood for the brain. There had been speculations on whether books affect mental health or not. Then a lot of studies were conducted to find out if it was true. Turns out, the studies prove that reading books can actually improve your mental health in ways more than one. There are even structured book-reading programs that involve storytelling or the reading of specific texts with the purpose of healing. This creative arts therapy is called Bibliotherapy. Let’s find out how it helps.
A study found that there is considerable decrease in depressive symptoms after a program of bibliotherapy. It helps the patients sleep better, improve inter-personal relationships, and feel better emotionally.
Dementia & Alzheimer’s disease:
Reading for at least an hour every day is shown to reduce your chances of developing Alzheimer’s. It enhances brain power and memory skills by forging new brain pathway; hence keeping the chance of Alzheimer's low. Brain stimulating activities like reading prevents mental decline and conditions such as dementia.
A study done by the University of Sussex shows that reading can reduce stress levels by 68 percent. The researchers monitored stress levels and heart rates of the subjects while they were engaging in various relaxing methods, such as listening to music, going for a walk, and having a cup of tea; but reading turned out to be the strongest method in helping the brain and body relax.
A study done on brain stimulation scanned the brains of participants before, during and after reading a fiction book. The results showed that there were significant neurological changes in the brain’s resting state after the participants had finished reading the book. It revealed that reading provides heightened connectivity to the brain muscles and increased memory muscle.
Makes you more empathetic:
The neurons that are fired in our brains when we perform an action or witness someone else performing that action, are called mirror neurons. They are formed in our brains while reading, thereby increasing our ability to feel empathy for others. A study showed that literary fiction, which simulates our everyday lives, increases our empathy for others. This is because fiction helps us relate with the characters and understand their struggles.
Many experts believe that reading fiction is a great way of improving one’s mental health. It indulges you in stories that put you in different characters’ shoes, making you experience different mental states; hence expanding your mind. Reading stories that make a strong connection with you often become one’s treasure. They stir something up and make you feel connected to the world when more often you feel distant or cut-off from it. Different kinds of fiction have different effects on your mind. Like reading poetry aloud can make you calmer, and novels can show you that even dementors can be defeated and the likewise, the demons in your head can be abrogated.
To know more about mental health, drop by our clinic, Fort Lauderdale Behavioral Wellness and our expert staff would be happy to help you.