As children we were encouraged to read books. We were assigned pages of textbooks for homework. We were given a summer reading list during school break. There were book fairs in the gymnasium after school. As an adult, there is a sense of nobility and wiseness when one is knowledgable and literate. We like to recommend a book we just finished reading to our peers. We take a newspaper to the diner to enjoy with our coffee and breakfast, and we post our favorite poems or quotes on our instagram pages.
Reading allows us to access information about the world. We find joy in paperback books. But there is a deeper psychological connection to reading. We learn, take part in it, enjoy it. Some dislike it for a multitude of reasons. It is also incredibly beneficial for our mental health. Interested in reading more about reading? (See what we did there?) Here are 10 Things to Know About the Psychology of Reading…
Reading can be a source of pleasure for people.
We all know someone who dislikes reading, but for many people, reading can be a source of pleasure. It is a form of entertainment. Reading is more than just slightly sleepy novels about American history. There is reading material available for people with all different interests. Regardless of your personality type, you will be able to find pleasure in some type of reading material. From novels, to comics, to short stories, to poetry books, to newspapers…there is something for everyone. The list is endless.
Reading can make you wiser.
Once we’ve learned the alphabet, we can learn to read. Reading allows children to:
- understand the world
- improve their vocabulary skills
- be aware of their surroundings
We all read every day even if it’s just a street sign or the ingredient list on the back of a cereal box. For teenagers and adults, reading can make them wiser beyond being literate and well spoken. Experts have studied cognitive differences between those who read often and those who hardly read. Reading also improves:
- general knowledge.
Reading may help you empathize and relate to others.
Reading gives us the opportunity to learn from someone else’s perspective. This can not only educate us, but also allow us to relate and empathize. Interestingly enough, this point has been proven true for fiction, not just non-fiction reading materials. According to MHFA England, “People who read fiction have been shown to improve your level of empathy, the ability for you to understand someone else’s belief’s, feelings and thoughts. Known as the theory of mind. Research has shown that people exposed to fiction predicted the results of an empathy task and even positively correlated with social support.”
Reading reduces stress levels.
Reading can improve mental health in many ways. One impressive benefit to reading is that it can reduce stress levels. When we dive into a good book and lose awareness of the outside world, our stress levels drastically decrease. A study conducted by cognitive neuropsychologist Dr. David Lewis, proved that reading as little as six minutes a day can reduce stress levels by 60%. Reading does this by:
- reducing heart rate
- easing muscle tension
- ultimately altering the state of mind
You can improve your sleep by reading.
Another incredible mental health benefit to reading is improved sleep. Reading before bed can improve your sleep whether you are:
- a child reading under your blanket with a flashlight
- a parent in their 30s who can’t seem to get enough shut eye
- a CEO who works 14 hours a day
Similar to how reading reduces stress levels, reading before bed:
- reduces heart rate
- eases muscle tension,
- alters the state of mind to prepare for bed time.
Reading is the perfect escape from the world.
Have you ever been reading a book and forgotten you’re not a character in the story? Or been reading a comic and thinking about which superpower you would pick to use next? Reading has this undeniable ability to transport us into another world. When you need a break from the “real world” try picking up a book as a way to escape!
Reading improves your memory.
Improving memory skills is another amazing mental health benefit of frequently reading. Studies have shown that when adults and elderly people set aside time to read, their memory skills are stronger. Reading is a great way to exercise the brain and keep everything running properly.
Reading groups can be very beneficial.
Reading groups, whether they are academic or social, can have many benefits. When it comes to the actual context of what is being read and studied, reading groups give members the opportunity to learn from each other. They share their own opinions and perspectives. This can instill confidence in the members.
Reading groups can also be beneficial for a social life. They are a safe place for like minded people and offer a guaranteed calendar date to talk about a common interest.
Some love reading, some hate it.
Generally speaking, some people may not like reading because they have:
- poor reading skills
- a short attention span
- had a bad experience with reading when they were younger.
This is likely due to no fault of their own. But since they cannot easily skim through a newspaper or have trouble understanding the plot of a book, it is not enjoyable to them. Struggling with reading can lead to frustration which ultimately leads to people finding other forms of entertainment.
Experts recommend reading every day.
Experts around the world strongly encouraging people to make time for reading every single day. Reading is a great way to:
- exercise the brain
- expand your horizons
- reduce stress
James Clear, author of the #1 New York Times Best Seller “Atomic Habits”, strongly believes in reading at least 20 pages a day to, among other things:
- break poor habits
- help with decision making
- find continuous improvement in your life
Did you know that for an averagely skilled reader it only takes about 30 minutes to read 20 pages? If you’ve gotten to this point, you must enjoy reading! Now keep it going!