Read yourself happy!
The evidence is in – reading for pleasure is good for you! Clearly, reading a textbook on a subject you can’t understand for an exam that seems to be coming ever closer relaxes no-one but reading something that transports you to a fictional world where you can empathise with characters struggling with life, recognising yourself in various characters and becoming involved in their lives (whether fictional or actual people in factual books) helps transport you to a different plane of consciousness. It takes you out of yourself, interrupts negative vicious cycles of self-talk, and gives the body a chance to relax. All of this has been shown to happen very rapidly – after just six minutes of starting reading.
There are longer term benefits to reading, as well. People who read for 30 minutes or more a week (and if you read for six minutes each day you will already be reading much more than this) have a wider vocabulary, greater empathy for others, are happier, less stressed, more resilient and find it easier to socialise and form deeper, more meaningful relationships than those who do not read regularly for pleasure.
Did I mention that reading for pleasure was also pleasurable? Well, it is. That’s kind of the whole point of it. It’s not some lofty self-improvement method, it’s just chilling with a good book (or ebook) and letting the world go by for a few minutes while you take a break from mundane reality. Books can take you anywhere, and if you don’t like what you have started reading, read something different. There is so much written that there really is something for everyone – you may just need to dip into a few books as you browse before you find something you like.
Check out our new guide to reading for wellbeing to help you get started.