They say that in the darkest times we return to books - to find words for what we already know. Being one of UK's favourite book subscription services, we hold this quote close to our heart and are working round the clock to make sure our surprise boxes filled with books can reach anyone who is looking for comfort and distraction in these uncertain times.
Studies show that reading reduces stress levels and can help one find solace and relief when they feel anxious, confused and worried. Here we've done some research and put together a list of our top 6 mental health benefits of reading:
1. Reading is pleasurable
How often have you felt low and just decided to curl yourself up in a corner and dive into a good book to forget about whatever it is that was bothering you? According to researchers at Kings College London this is because when you start to read a really good book, it becomes difficult to put it down. The story captivates you and takes you on a journey (far away from your anxious thoughts). You become so involved in the story itself that time begins to disappear and before you know it you’ve finished the book! But when you reach the end you feel low again, because it’s over and you want to cling on to how you felt while you were reading. So you begin discussing the book with your book club and look to them for inspiration on which book to start next. After much debating, you choose another and begin a new journey. It is a beautiful and magical feeling.
2. Reading reduces stress
According to a study conducted by The University of Edinburgh, reading as little as six minutes a day can reduce stress levels by 60%- reducing heart rate, easing muscle tension and altering your state of mind. Another study conducted by the University of Sussex showed that reading a book was more beneficial than listening to relaxing music, drinking tea or going for a walk in alleviating stress.
3. Reading makes you more empathetic
In her book The Story and Science of The Reading Brain Maryanne Wolf highlights the truth that exposure to literature boosts EQ and that there is a clear relationship between reading and empathy. So if you grew up as an avid reader, you’ve probably noticed that you have a hidden skill of understanding and deciphering people’s emotions. A study conducted by the University of Rochester showed that people who read pulpy stories or serious works of fiction have a strong ability to perceive others emotions.
4. Reading makes you happier
In a study conducted by The University of Liverpool which surveyed close to 4,500 adults found that adults who read regularly reported having higher self esteem than their non- reading counterparts. The study also highlighted that the ones who indulged in reading often scored higher in terms of feeling closer to their friends and family and had a stronger sense of awareness when it came to cultural diversity and social issues.
5. Reading exercises the mind
Now that we’re all indoors- we’ve understood the importance of staying active and getting in some form of physical activity everyday. As this is important to keep our bodies healthy, agile and build our immune systems. But what about our minds? How often do we think about exercising our brain? Scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, found that reading lowers the levels of beta-amyloid- a brain protein involved in Alzheimer's, by keeping the mind cognitively stimulated. Thereby highlighting that it is important for us to constantly stimulate our minds-as this helps it stay positive, young and of-course improves memory. The best way to engage and exercise our brains is to read often. This can be anything from a feature article, a short story or a pulpy novel.
6. Reading is a great escape
Surrounded by bad news, the fear of the unknown and constant feelings of confusion and distress - the world is going through a difficult time. But with more time on our hands than ever before- the easiest and best way to escape from everything happening around is to just drown ourselves in books. A study conducted by Melanie Green, a psychologist at The University of Buffalo, says that reading a good book can provide an escape from boredom or stress. According to her, stories allow us to feel connected with others and feel a part of something bigger than ourselves. The idea of ‘transportation’ is one that she uses to explain what makes it possible to get ‘lost in a book’. For some people it is a quick-moving plot that is critical, for some it is the style of writing and for others it is engaging characters. This holds especially true for Crime, Mystery & Thriller books.
So if you’ve been waiting for a time to start reading (or get back to reading), there has never been a better time. We can promise that it will open your mind, help you relax and transport you to another world.
If you’re having difficulty deciding which book to pick up next - let our happy algorithm do the choosing for you :) Try one of our Surprise Boxes?