Hello everyone! I have a slightly different kind of post for you today and I really hope you’ll take the time to read it as I believe it to be important. Having struggled with depression and anxiety for a large portion of my life, I have a number of things I do to try and keep my head above water. One of those things is reading. I have long been a believer in the healing power of books so today I wanted to share a list of ways that reading is beneficial to my mental health. I hope that some of you may also find this helpful.
The main way that reading helps my mental health is that it allows me to escape the harsh realities of life. No matter what is worrying me, be it bigger concerns such as family, health, my job, or smaller niggling things like a phone call I have to make or an errand I need to run, reading allows me to switch off from all of that and forget for a while. This is why world-building in books is so important to me. I want a richly developed world that will transport me away from my cares, get me out of my own head, and let me lose myself for a few hours. Books are a refuge.
This is another important one. Reading as vociferously as I do, I find a lot of books that really speak to me. I don’t know if it’s just a case of impeccable timing but often, a book can tell me exactly what I need to hear at a particular time. Certain writers in particular have an uncanny ability to speak to my soul and I am forever noting down quotes I find relatable. Then, if I’m having a low moment but not able to actually pick up a book (say I’m having a difficult shift at work), I can read a quick quote to give myself a little boost.
Books are ALWAYS there for me. No matter what else is going on in my life, I can take comfort in reading. There’s a reason I take a book everywhere with me. They are almost like a comfort blanket. Any situation where I feel uncomfortable, I can just whip out my book and lose myself instead of spiralling into a panic attack. Waiting rooms? Airports, train stations? Books have got me covered.
Reading often goes hand-in-hand with other activities designed for relaxation. Whether it’s taking a bath, snuggling with a cup of tea on a lazy Sunday morning or just winding down for bed, you will find me reading. In fact, I am physically unable to fall asleep without reading at least a few pages. One of the most fun aspects of having anxiety (heavy sarcasm here people) is the tendency to ruminate for hours after climbing into bed. That joke you made at work today? No-one thought it was funny, they all just think you’re weird. That random pain you felt today? You’re clearly suffering from some fatal illness. The anxious brain is awful at dredging up the worst it has to offer when you’re trying to fall asleep. So my solution is just to read until I literally can’t keep my eyes open anymore and therefore I don’t give my brain the chance to torture me.
Now, I don’t agree with comparing your situation to others because that diminishes what each individual is going through. Everyone’s suffering is valid. JUST SAYING. However, if the ‘someone always has it worse’ viewpoint works for you, then books can help you along! You are definitely better off than that heroine who is being persecuted by an evil king/queen/government leader. You are not being eaten by a dragon/zombie/rabid dog. Count your blessings.
I am often judged for the amount of reading I do but people simply don’t realise that, during my most extreme lows, reading is actually KEEPING ME ALIVE. Now thankfully, it rarely reaches that point. But I am still convinced that reading is a useful part of my anxiety toolbox and when I don’t utilise it, my mood definitely dips. So my message to you is this: don’t let people judge you for doing something that is necessary to your survival! Reading is a wonderful form of self-care and the benefits to our mental health are overwhelmingly clear.
I hope some of you found this post helpful and please do get in touch if you would like to chat further! Are these types of posts something you would like to see more of?