By- Kelli Drummer-Avendano

If we should be indulging in books when life is going on as usual, then reading is even more important now that our world seems anything but ordinary. We all know reading is good for us, and here are seven reasons you’ll want to pick up a book right now.

1. Exercise for the mind 

Reading books does for the mind what physical exercise does for the body. The mind is a muscle and it needs a good workout to keep it in shape. Reading requires our minds to focus on many different elements at once: the letters coming together to form words, which then come together to create sentences, which in turn make up an entire story or main idea. This process of making sense of what we read forces us to concentrate and improves our ability to focus even after we’re done reading. 

2. Stress relief

Finding time everyday to relax is important during normal times, which makes it indispensable during moments of heightened stress like these. Fortunately, reading has been proven to reduce stress. This is mostly likely due to our minds being focused on understanding what we read and not being consumed by worries or to-do lists. What we choose to read does matter, though. Avoid news-related articles that will only make you worry more about current events.

3. Better sleep

Getting enough quality sleep is challenging, but even more so now that our routines have been thrown off. Creating a habit of reading before bed signals the body and mind to get ready for sleep and it helps you transition to a place of calm after a busy day. The best reading material for bedtime is something inspirational and positive. Try not to read thrillers or suspense—you could end up staying awake just to see what happens!

4. Increased empathy

Being physically separated from other human beings can make us feel alone and disengaged. When we read, we feel connected to the characters in the story, whether it’s fiction or nonfiction. Because we often get to see inside the characters’ minds, we come to understand them better: their pain, struggles, dreams, and disappointment. This connection emulates real life so much so that we increase our capacity for empathy just by reading a book. 

5. Motivation

Did you know that when you read about a character doing something, you’re more likely to accomplish that activity in real life? For example, if you want to complete a marathon, you should read about someone who successfully runs one to motivate yourself. We could all use a little extra motivation to achieve our goals right now, so make a list of what you’d like to do and then find books to inspire you.  

6. Easing depression

It’s understandable that more of us are feeling depressed, given the current situation. If you fall into this category, try picking up a book to give yourself an emotional boost. Studies have revealed that reading has a positive effect on people experiencing depression. Although you don’t have to read a self-help book to reap the benefits, that genre has been shown to have an added benefit if you’re feeling down. 

7. Endless entertainment

Being stuck in the house has probably given you some more downtime. You could binge another series on your streaming service, or, better yet, you could take a break from constant screens and read a book. You could even explore a new genre: romance, mystery, historical fiction, fantasy, thriller, biography, autobiography, literary fiction … the possibilities are almost endless. So put your feet up, notice yourself relaxing, and feel proud that your mind is hard at work—even if you aren’t!

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