5 ways reading can benefit your wellbeing.

Have you ever felt like there are so many books you want to read, but so little time?

Every day, we are bombarded with things to consume. We wake up in the morning, turn off our alarm, check our notifications, flick through social media, listen to a podcast, read the news, scroll some more… Before we know it, it’s 9am and we’ve started our day of work. But what if we took half an hour out of the day to sit down – alone – to read?

Let’s take a step back and ask: ‘how many books did I read last month?’. If you can work that out, times it by the number of months in a year and then again by the number of years you expect to live. You will reach a number and will start to see that there is a finite amount of books you can read in a lifetime. But what if we sat down and took 30 minutes each day just to read? Well, you could certainly read more books in a month, a year and a lifetime – but what would be the benefits?

Let’s take a look at the 5 ways reading can benefit you:

  1. Reduce stress

Stress can affect us both emotionally and physically and can cause our mood, body and relationships to suffer. According to research by the University of Sussex, reading can be a better stress reducer than both listening to music or going for a walk – and could reduce our stress levels by 68%.

  1. Improve sleep

For most of us, screens are what we spend most of our days staring at. According to the National Sleep Foundation, ‘using electronic devices before bed can be physiologically and psychologically stimulating in ways that can adversely affect your sleep’. This means that the more electronic devices used before heading to bed, the harder it is to fall or stay asleep. Instead, try putting your phone to one side and choose reading as an escape from that blue light.

  1. Reduce loneliness

Literature helps us to feel connected to people and stories, it teaches us to be empathetic and understand identities of ourselves and others. This helps us to feel connected with the world around us. Reading also provides opportunities to come together and participate in a discussion. Need some help getting back into a book? Get some reading friends at a book club or check out The Reading Agency, a National Lottery-funded programme to kickstart your reading habit. According to The Reading Agency, ‘reading or listening to an audiobook can significantly reduce the feelings of loneliness and help to alleviate social isolation’.

  1. Boost intelligence

Staying mentally active as you age can help you to keep a healthy brain. Reading books helps to engage the brain and because of this is often linked to slowing cognitive decline and has even been linked to lowering the risk of Alzheimer’s. Whilst we cannot definitively prove this, reading can help us to learn and help boost our intelligence by challenging ourselves.

  1. Increase lifespan

Did you know that reading can actually increase your lifespan? We think anything that could potentially help us live longer and happier lives is worth investing.

A study published in the journal Social Science & Medicine proves just that. When comparing adult who do not read books with those who read books for up to 3½ hours each week, those who read were ‘17% per cent less likely to die over the 12-year follow-up’, while those who read for more than 3½ hours weekly were 23% less likely to die and overall lived almost 2 years longer.

So what’s on your reading list for this month? Leave your recommendations in the comments below…