For writers, reading may seem as essential to life as breathing. But did you know reading has actually been proven to have surprising health benefits? So the next time you feel like your creativity has quit and your writing has wilted, reach for the remedy: your favorite book! Here are five remarkable ways that reading can improve your sense of well-being and keep you healthy:
Mental Stimulation – Reading can help keep your brain sharp as you age. Studies show people who participate in mentally stimulating hobbies—such as chess, puzzles, and, of course, reading—reduce their risk of Alzheimer’s disease. And reading improves your knowledge and vocabulary—so the more you read, the better (and smarter!) your writing will be.
Stress Relief – Immersing yourself in a great story is one of the quickest ways to reduce stress. As you lose yourself in the plot, setting, and characters’ experiences, you’re no longer fixated on the issues that are troubling you. The distraction of a good book can reduce your heart rate and relax muscle tension in just minutes. And if you’re reading a self-help book on how to deal with your problems—so much the better! Not only will you feel less stressed due to the act of reading, you’ll learn constructive ways to deal with your worries in the long term.
Memory Improvement – In order to move forward in the book you’re reading, you need to remember what you’ve already read. That means memorizing and following characters, story arcs, and plot twists. All this mental tracking exercises your memory. When you spend time each day reading, new memories are created upon existing ones, which strengthens your short-term memory. Consider it a neurological workout.
Better Sleep – If you’re having trouble falling asleep, a relaxing pre-bedtime routine will make shut-eye less elusive. Regularly reading before bed can help your body shift into sleep mode. Just be sure the light is not too bright and the book isn’t an exciting page-turner you can’t put down—you may stay awake all night reading to the very end!
Encouragement – Reading about how a character overcame obstacles can inspire you to focus on accomplishing healthy goals that you may have felt were impossible to achieve, such as losing weight, running a marathon, or even learning to swim. You may even find the confidence to face rejection and submit your writing to more markets!
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