Reading as Therapy

Is reading really therapeutic? Can it be used to help with your mental wellbeing? check out why we think it can via @tbookjunkie

These days it is easy to find a therapist because of online solutions like BetterHelp.com. But did you know that picking up a book could be therapeutic as well? There are several mental health benefits to reading that are backed up by mounting scientific evidence. Reading is great for the brain and can reduce stress and even depression for some. Let us look at some of the ways that reading can help your mental processes and health.

Books for studying

How Reading could be used as Therapy

#1 Reduces Mental Decline

Our brains use all sorts of circuits and connections when we read, and studies indicate that our brains light up as we sift through the pages of a novel. You may have heard that doing puzzles, like crosswords, can help your mental state as you age. However, pleasurable reading may have similar beneficial effects on mental capacity. In addition, many people love to read more than they enjoy doing puzzles so they will read for longer periods of time. This can make it more likely to reap the benefits.

Suggested Reading:

Brief overview: A journalist is coached by the world’s foremost “mental athletes” on the latest methods for improving memory.

#2 Reduces Stress

Reading can be an extremely relaxing activity. It allows us to escape from our daily routine and think about something enjoyable or interesting. It does not even have to be a lot of reading and as little as 30 minutes or 20 pages may be enough to reduce your stress levels. In some ways, reading can be a lot like other mindfulness techniques. Make sure that you choose to read something that is relaxing and not a trigger for anxious thoughts and feelings. Some experts also believe that reading during the evening can help an individual fall asleep quicker.

Suggested Reading:

Brief overview: Featuring chapters on how stress affects sleep and addiction, as well as new insights into anxiety and personality disorder and the impact of spirituality on managing stress.

#3 Increases Empathetic Feelings

Reading stories can help us to understand other people’s beliefs and feelings. This can help us build better relationships. Humans are social creatures that require social connection and isolation correlates with rates of some mental health disorders. However, a lot of people suffer from social anxiety. Reading can be a great first step in developing positive relationships because it can help us feel a sense of connection and empathy with the characters.

Reading can also help us be more social by providing us with a unique topic for conversation. People love to hear about what other people are reading. Others like to connect over similar literary interests. Book clubs are a great way for introverted individuals to fulfil their social needs.

Suggested Reading:

Brief overview: The author mixes humour and in-depth research with to talk about her own anxiety, making it a great pick for somebody just starting to come to grips with their mental health struggles.

#4 Fight Depression

People with depression often have a difficult time seeing hope and commonly self-isolate. Reading fictional stories offer a healthy escape and a connection to characters. Some books can teach coping strategies. Other reading material can offer hope because the reader empathizes with their experiences.

Suggested Reading:

Brief overview: The author explains how he had a panic attack while on national television and realized he needed to figure out what was going on in his body and mind in order to regain control.

#5 Improves Rationality and Self-Esteem

Research indicates that reading fictional short stories can provide those with a decrease in the need for cognitive closure. This effect is even stronger for those who regularly read. This may even increase our levels of creativity. In addition, reading may significantly improve our self-esteem.  Readers reported being more satisfied with life and had less indication of depression than those who did not read.

Suggested Reading:

Brief overview: This book offers a warm and engaging set of techniques you can use to identify what’s right in your life. Through guided reflection and journaling, you’ll learn to find strength and self-reliance in your own best qualities.

#6 Increase Focus

We may not have a great attention span to begin with. In fact, most adults can only focus for 20 minutes at a time. Reading is a great way to improve focus. You can start by reading a few pages a day and increase the amount you read. This can help you become more productive in both your work and personal life.

Suggested Reading:

Brief overview: You’ll discover life-changing facts about how to make the most of your brain’s daily processing limit.

Books Also Provide Answers to Questions you are Embarrassed to Ask

Books are also extremely informative and there are a wealth of self-help guides and self-care books currently available that cover a vast amount of different topics. We don’t always want to talk about topics we are either embarrassed about and don’t want to feel flustered when seeking out answers to questions.

For example, while we are now far more open about our bodies, many women struggle to acknowledge that their bodies change later in life, with many people ignoring signs that they are going through menopause as they do not want to admit to such changes and feel embarrassed to discuss this, in that way books, are a fantastic source of information.

Books help to provide answers on a myriad of different topics not just those that are health related. They also help overcome grief, financial concerns, trauma including PTSD and support for those struggling with all aspects of their life.

Reading can be incredibly enjoyable, but it can also give a nice boost to our mental wellbeing. It can be a great way to escape the stress or our daily lives. It can also create a sense of connection and increase our empathy. So pick up a book and get reading!

What books would you recommend people read for therapeutic purposes? Have you read a book that has provided great therapy?

Disclaimer: Some links in this article are affiliate links, which means that if you purchase through them, we receive a small commission. 

If you are based within the UK or the US and prefer to support independent bookshops, then you can find a full list of all the books and authors mentioned in this article on our bookshop page.  

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Why books are a great source of therapy for everyone via @tbookjunkie

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