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How reading can affect your wellbeing

Do you read books? If you are suffering from depression or a sense of low wellbeing then it might be a good idea to start.

Did you know that, according to a recent survey conducted in the UK, adults who read for as little as 20 minutes a week are 20% more likely to feel satisfied with their lives. The survey and previous research shows that many people that read for pleasure are less likely to report feelings of depression, are more likely to have good self esteem and have a stronger sense of connectedness with their community.

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According to the survey, reading books is a go-to outlet for those experiencing anxiety or a low mood. Readers were found to be 36% more likely to pick up a book than talk to a friend when they want to break out of a low mood. While non-readers may cringe at the thought of their friend curling up with a book rather than talking when upset, 1 in 5 readers reported that reading stopped them from feeling lonely.

Those aren’t the only revelations that came out of the survey. Other such outcomes includes:

  • 43% of readers said reading helped them get a better night’s sleep
  • Readers reported higher levels of creativity (48%) than non-readers (38%)
  • Regular readers reported 57% greater cultural awareness and 21% more general knowledge
  • Readers were found to be 27% better able to make time for their friends
  • Readers were found to be 10% more capable of planning and prioritising

Using books to help health and wellbeing is not a new idea. Following the first and second world wars books were used to help soldiers that were recovering from physical and emotional trauma.

According to associate professor Vijaya Manicavasagar, Director of Psychological Services and Director of the Psychology Clinic at the Black Dog Institute, prescribing reading in mild cases of depression is a terrific idea “if it is part of a concerted effort to lift someone’s mood.”

Professor Manicavasagar describes some of the potential benefits of reading below.

[Reading literature can give] a new perspective on life and problems that you might be encountering so you get to see how other people might have dealt with a similar problem or coped with a particular situation so it exposes you to new ways of thinking, a bit like cognitive therapy. As well as pure escapism, the experience of identifying with a character who comes through adversity may also build self-confidence.

Vijaya Manicavasagar

We know there are avid readers readers out there, and given the nature of our posts likely some experiencing depression and trying to help their mental wellbeing. What do you think about using books to help relieve stress and reduce depression?

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