If I were to ask you to count how many times you’ve heard or read the word “Covid-19” today, could you give me an answer?
Whether it’s the morning radio, the evening television, the road signage, or even the neighbourhood gossip; it’s hard to escape thoughts of Covid-19. Of course it’s important to stay up to date with the regulations and the news regarding Covid-19, but it’s equally important to take a break from it. Turn off the television and the radio. Take some time alone. Escape into a book.
Similar to meditation, reading relaxes our brains in a pleasurable way. It has been proven that being attentive and present while reading helps to overcome stress and lowers blood pressure and heart rate. Whether you’re a fiction-fanatic or relish real-life reading, there are numerous benefits of both genres of books.
Research has shown that people who read fiction – stories that explore the inner lives of characters – show a heightened ability to understand the feelings and beliefs of others. This ability has been referred to as “theory of mind”, a set of skills essential for building, understanding, and maintaining social relationships. Rather than ruminating over your daily struggles, reading fiction enables you to be temporarily transported into an imaginary world where we can meet and engage with new characters, observing them dealing with conflicts that deepen and plots that thicken until a resolution is reached. This reading experience is a therapeutic form of escapism that helps you to disengage for a while.
Fiction is fantastic if you want to escape reality. If your goal is to learn how to overcome reality, however, then non-fiction books are your best bet. When reading factual information, you are exposed to obstacles that actually occur in the real world. You witness how these obstacles develop and you absorb information about the tactics others have used to overcome them, and whether or not those tactics worked. Essentially, reading non-fiction enables you to analyse potential scenarios before encountering them yourself. Alternatively, if you are currently encountering the scenario or have in the past, it provides a sense of comfort through feelings of relatedness. The opposite of reading about real-world obstacles is reading about real-world successes. Such stories involving the main character accomplishing their goals can motivate and inspire the reader. Particularly if you are on a career fast-track, non-fiction books can be considered a mentorship that you can pick up and put down whenever it suits your schedule.
The Flexible Commuter
Of course, motivation levels are not always so black and white. The vast majority of us will find ourselves taking the High-Speed Rail one day, and the Long-Distance Train the next. So, if you feel like you could do with a bit of help to speed up your journey to Motivation Station, below are some useful tips.
Benefits of Print Books
With the length of time we spend looking at phones, laptops, TVs, and computers, it’s not surprising that our eyes become strained from the blue rays they emit. As such, reading a print book is a great way to entertain yourself while giving your eyes a break from the ubiquitous screens. Further, studies have shown repeatedly that people who read print books score higher on comprehension tests and remember more of what they have read than people who read the same text in digital form. This may be partly because people tend to read print more slowly than digital text.
Overall Health Benefits of Reading
Increases vocabulary and comprehension
Aids in sleep readiness
Improves brain connectivity
Empowers the ability to empathize with others
Fights symptoms of depression
Prevents cognitive decline
Lowers blood pressure and heart rate
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24091705/ https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/00220973.2016.1143794?scroll=top&needAccess=true https://aaronsansonibook.com.au/the-benefits-of-reading-non-fiction/ https://www.irishtimes.com/culture/books/reading-is-a-therapeutic-form-of-escape-but-what-about-for-writers-1.3644528
Article contributed by Louise Nixon, Assistant Psychologist and MSc Candidate in Health & Social Psychology