Monday 11 December 2017

Why Reading Benefits My Mental Health

Why Reading Benefits My Mental Health

As a child, I was a complete bookworm. I loved reading so much. It would be rare if you ever found me without my nose in a book. I could not leave the things alone. Like most millennials, I grew up obsessed with Jacqueline Wilson. Jacqueline Wilson is to reading what Lady Di is to Britain. A well loved and appreciated icon. 

My life revolved around coming home to watch the latest episode of Tracy Beaker while reading one Jacqueline's books. I've actually still got all my books, and I will hold on to them for as long as I possibly can, as they were such important parts of my childhood that hold such dear memories in my heart. 

As I grew up though, I stopped reading. The internet came along, and suddenly reading took a back seat in my life. I was more interested in watching YouTube and chatting on MSN then reading. I found that as I got older, there weren't books suitable for my age group. I was getting too old for Tracy Beaker but too young for the chick lit in the adult section. I felt very lost when it came to my reading, and as a result, my reading journey ceased. 

That was until this year. I had read a few books over the years since my bookworm days in childhood, but I never was able to get back into my reading properly. On my holiday in the lake district back in July, I decided that I wanted to have a complete social media detox. Honestly, it was one of the best things I could have done for my mental health. 

As I wasn't on social media all the time, I had more time to read. In fact, A LOT of time to read. You don't realise just how much time you waste on social media until you don't go on it for a week. This break was what I needed to get myself back into reading. 

The book that for me back into reading was Nikki Dubose's memoir washed Away from darkness to light which I absolutely loved. Since then, I don't think I've been more than a few days without a book on the go. Taking up reading again has been one of the best decisions that I could have ever made for my mental health. 

Reading provides a sense of escapism on a whole new level. Books transport me to different locations, time periods and even new universes. The best thing is, you can travel across the world and sometimes out of this world all from the comfort of your own bed. When you have a mental health problem, sometimes leaving your house or even your bed for that matter is not always possible. You can really feel like your missing out on life's adventures. But when you read, you don't miss out at all.

Why Reading Benefits My Mental Health

Having a mental illness is tiring, to say the least. It's exhausting being trapped in your own brain every single day. I know there's been many a day when all I've wanted to do is escape my own thoughts. Reading allows that. I become absorbed in the characters thoughts and problems. So absorbed that it momentarily allows me to forget everything that is wrong in my life. How amazing is that? 

Books will always be more than just a few words bound between too pretty covers. Reading, for me is the best antidepressant out there. When I'm feeling low I can read a happy book, when I want to cry, I can read a sad book. I can jump and skip from book to book like I'm on the London Underground. I can read to suit my mood, and I can read to change my mood. 

Another magical thing I have discovered through reading is that it can provide me with new friends and companions. Life can be lonely sometimes. Reading allows me to relate to characters like they are my real life friends. Well described and developed characters give me a warm fuzzy feeling inside. Suddenly, I don't feel so alone anymore. 

For the majority of this post, I have been waffling on about how just reading, in general, has helped my mental health. However, it also goes without saying really that reading books about mental health help my mental health. Whether the character also struggles with OCD and depression and I feel like I can relate or the book touches on a topic of mental health that I'm not too familiar with, and it aids my understanding of mental health so I can become a more educated and informed advocate for mental health rights. Books about mental health and No I'm not talking the super preachy 'You can change your life if you just smile' rubbish will always be some of my favourites to read. 

If reading has helped your mental health. I would love to know in the comments below.

Thanks for reading, as always X

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