In our manic modern world, it’s more important than ever to make time for hobbies. Studies have shown that leisure activities are invaluable stress-relievers, they promote both mental and physical relaxation, and restore energy and happiness. And whilst you may typically think of crafting, sport or music as offering maximum benefits, there’s an awful lot to be said for the simple art of reading. Whether you’re curling up with a good book by the fire or discussing characters over tea at the StraightCurves Book Club, you’re inadvertently boosting every aspect of your well-being.
Reasons to read
There’s no doubt that reading is good for you. Research has shown that reading as little as 30 minutes a week can have a positive impact on your health and well-being. Let’s explore the many reasons why.
Calm your mind
Research conducted by the University of Sussex shows that reading is the best way to relax, beating other tested methods, such as going for a walk, listening to music and drinking a cup of tea. This demonstrates that reading offers far more than a mere distraction from the stresses of daily life; by actively engaging your imagination in a story, reading offers total escapism.
Improve your sleep
A proven aid to relaxation, reading is the perfect way to wind down at the end of the day. Reading as part of your bedtime routine will help remove stresses and engage your thoughts in a world apart from your own – ideal for switching off your worries. Ensure you read with a dim light, otherwise your brain will assume it’s not yet bedtime.
Broaden your knowledge
Encouraging children to read is at the heart of education. We all know that reading will expand a child’s vocabulary and open the gateway to learning. But the good news is that this doesn’t stop in childhood. Reading regularly will help adults to build verbal intelligence, increase general knowledge and broaden conversational repertoire.
Enhance emotional intelligence
As you connect with characters in fiction, you gain insights into a range of reactions, perspectives and motivations. This raises awareness of other people’s emotions. A study published in Science has shown that readers of literary fiction, where book characters challenge the reader’s psychological awareness, experience enhanced empathy.
Protect your memory
Activities that promote mental stimulation, such as reading books, could help reduce rates of memory loss in old age. Research published in the journal Neurology showed that elderly men and women who participated regularly in mentally stimulating activities throughout their lives had a slower rate of decline of memory.
Free for all
The benefits of reading are truly boundless. It opens your mind to new words, new worlds and new perspectives that relax yet also stimulate the mind. And the good news is that reading is one of the most accessible of all hobbies. If you’re short on books at home, just pop to Chesterfield Library on New Beetwell Street and boost your wellbeing for free.
Written by Jane Sandwood